søndag 4. juli 2021

Kim Jong-un signal for help could mark a turning point in North Korea’s Covid fight

Almost 18 months after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, North Korea has come close to conceding that its attempts to keep the virus from its borders have failed. While North Korea’s state-controlled media have not reported any cases, some analysts assume the virus has breached the country’s defences, prompting its leader, Kim Jong-un, to issue a coded request for outside help this week. If their interpretation is correct, it would mark a significant turning point in the North’s coronavirus response, after repeated claims by the regime that it has not recorded a single infection.

North Korea’s proximity to China – the source of the outbreak – prompted it to take swift action early last year. In what it called a fight for “national existence”, it severely curtailed cross-border traffic and trade, and banned international arrivals and sent diplomats and aid workers home. North Korean citizens already accustomed to restrictions on their freedom of movement have been subject to even tighter controls on domestic travel.