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Old 06-30-2021, 07:02 AM
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Arrow North Korea’s Kim warns of ‘grave incident’ in fight against the coronavirus

North Korea’s Kim warns of ‘grave incident’ in fight against the coronavirus
By: Simon Denyer - The Washington Post - 06-29-21
Re: North Korea’s Kim warns of ‘grave incident’ in fight against the coronavirus

TOKYO — North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un has chastised ruling party officials for failures in their anti-virus work that created what he called a "grave incident" that caused a "huge crisis" in the country's battle against covid-19, state media reported Wednesday.

But health experts said information was too sketchy to draw any immediate conclusions about whether the coronavirus had entered the country.

North Korea has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep covid-19 at bay, closing its border with China to people and most goods shortly after the pandemic broke out last year, clearly fearing that a serious outbreak could overwhelm the country’s ailing health care system.

It has not announced any confirmed cases of covid-19, a claim backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) but questioned by U.S. and South Korean officials.

However, the border closure lockdown has been severely damaging for North Korea’s own economy, fueling the worst economic crisis in two decades that has left many ordinary people struggling and hungry.

State media did not specify what had happened.

“By neglecting important decisions of the party in its national emergency antivirus fight in preparations for a global health crisis, officials in charge have caused a grave incident that poses a huge crisis to the safety of the nation and its people,” the Korea Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying.

Kim had called a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday to address some officials’ neglect of duty, including failing to implement important long-term measures to fight the pandemic, KCNA said.

Several Politburo members, secretaries of the central committee, and officials of several state agencies were replaced at the meeting, KCNA reported.

Shortly after the pandemic spread through China at the start of 2020, North Korea closed its border, cutting off its own economic lifeline, placed foreigners under effective house arrest and severely restricted domestic travel.

As a result, information about the pandemic has been extremely hard to come by, although unconfirmed reports of areas placed under lockdowns and quarantine last year fueled suspicion that some cases might have emerged.

Last July, North Korea did declare a state of emergency and locked down the border city of Kaesong after a former defector crossed back into the country from South Korea with suspected symptoms of covid-19, although tests were reported to have been inconclusive.

Yet the ruling party continues to hold events and meetings, with officials regularly seen without face masks, suggesting the pandemic has largely been kept at bay. The border with China had even begun to open to trade again in recent months, before clamping shut again more recently.

According to the WHO’s latest report issued this month, over 30,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in North Korea, and all the results were negative.

But that success has come at a huge price for the economy. Earlier this month, Kim warned that the country's food situation had become “tense,” amid mounting reports of shortages.

“Reading between the lines, my sense is senior official(s) may have turned a blind eye to some illegal border activities (smuggling or trade),” Chad O’Carroll, the founder of the NK News service tweeted. “Somehow, this may have led to COVID-19 exposure (not necessarily infection).”

“This might be why DPRK borders mysteriously closed again.” he added, using the acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

About a contributor to this post: Min Joo Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.

Also being reported:

* North Korea’s Kim calls food situation ‘tense’ as reports of shortages mount

* N Korea’s economy is ravaged by sanctions and pandemic isolation. Kim is lashing out.

* Kim appears to have lost some weight — and that could have geopolitical consequences
(Yea right the little fat-man doesn't miss a meal (plus a dozen snacks -each day).

Personal note: Hey Kim - what goes around comes around! The ramifications of said virus
doesn't care who you are or where you're from! Get used to it - give your people the virus
shots - no shots - no business - no food - no travel - But Kim I bet you got your shots -
didn't you!
Why not give the shots to your people - or don't they mean anything to you. Or is it to
keep fear in their hearts and minds is all you care about. You wanna eat the same as
your people - a cup of uncooked rise and a glass of water - hell you may even loose
some weight - not that you don't need it - right!

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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