North Korea soldiers
North Korea's soldiers have been put on alert amid the sudden rise in snakes and have been ordered to capture any before they crawl over the banks of the Yalu River. ED JONES/AFP/Getty

Soldiers on North Korea's border control have been ordered to remain on alert for snakes, with Pyongyang accusing South Korea of a "cunning scheme" to release the reptiles over the border. Authorities in North Korea believe that the South is attempting to "challenge" their "unity" through the move.

North Korea's military have been told that Seoul's spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, is responsible for the sudden high number of snakes in the Ryanggang province. They have been ordered to capture all the snakes that appear in the region.

According to the Guardian, a source in the province said: "Earlier this month, border patrol units received orders to capture snakes before they crawl over the banks of the Yalu River."

North Korea's Ministry of People's Security, as well as other public agencies, have reportedly warned the public to stay on alert for snakes as rumours of people dying of snake bites have begun going around. However, some soldiers are yet to be convinced by North Korea's claims that the snakes are because of a South Korea plot.

A source said: "Some grumble about the nature of the state's claims. They point out that not even a three-year-old would believe the South would attack us with snakes over propaganda leaflets or CDs."

Some believe that Pyongyang's insistence that they are under attack from an outside force could be an attempt to "psychologically arm the people during the 200-day battle". This is part of one of Kim Jong-un's campaigns to boost the economy, which has previously seen North Koreans subject to mandatory mass mobilisation campaigns to measure loyalty to the regime.

North Korean propaganda previously stated that large numbers of stick insects in corn fields was due to a scheme planned by the United States. However, the source said that this had actually been caused by an increase in pesticides, adding that the snakes rumour would also be forgotten quickly as few people had actually spotted any snakes.