tirsdag 8. juni 2021

North Korea’s Isolation Is Deepening

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, North Korea had a reputation as one of the most (if not the most) isolated societies on Earth. It was as if North Korea was already living under the conditions of a permanent COVID-19 lockdown. Indeed, it was hard to imagine that the hermit nation could get any more reclusive than it already was. Yet with COVID-19 raging all over the world, North Korea seems to be rolling down the path of new unprecedented levels of isolationism. Why is this happening and what will the consequences be?

The government’s COVID-19 measures became a key trigger of the North Korean iron curtain becoming almost impenetrable. Already in late January 2020, North Korea moved quickly against the virus, when other countries were still discussing what measures should be taken, if any. The borders were completely sealed off. All tourists were prohibited from entering; those already in the country were kicked out. All other foreigners residing in North Korea were put under a one-month quarantine. This rule applied to the staff of local embassies and international organizations. Some said they were literally locked out in their buildings despite the fact that they had arrived in North Korea way before the pandemic.