‘Ghost disease’ sickening North Korean residents


Associated Press: December 4, North Koreans who defected but once lived near a nuclear testing site in the rogue nation now believe they are experiencing the dangerous effects of exposure to harmful radiation — and it’s triggered severe health problems, according to a report published Sunday.

“So many people died we began calling it ‘ghost disease,'” Lee Jeong Hwa, who in 2010 escaped her home in Kilju County where the nuclear testing site Punggye-ri is located, told NBC News. “We thought we were dying because we were poor and we ate badly. Now we know it was the radiation.”

Lee isn’t the only defector who believes the radiation is taking its toll on people who lived there.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported in November that close to two dozen defectors said the area surrounding Punggye-ri is turning into a “wasteland” where vegetation is dying and babies are born with deformities.

The defectors said drinking water in the area came from Mount Mantap, where nuclear tests reportedly were conducted underground.


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