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North Korean state media warned over the weekend authorities were cracking down on covid measures across the country. This included increasing the number of guard posts at border crossings, as well as imposing new restriction on sea entry. Authorities were even ordered to “incinerate seaborne rubbish”.
The World Health Organisation said it has not recorded any confirmed cases of coronavirus in North Korea as of November 5.
However, North Korea was quick to react after the pandemic was discovered in neighbouring China late last year, by quickly shutting its borders.
Last week, South Korea’s intelligence agency revealed details of the North Korean leader’s plot to curb the deadly virus at a parliamentary hearing.
Politician Ha Tae-keung said concerns were growing over Kim Jong-un’s “irrational actions” towards China.
He said: “Kim Jong-un is taking irrational actions.
“He is venting his anger excessively and rolling out measures that lack common sense.”
He added the dictator may be feeling pressure after closing the border over the economic consequences.
North Korea’s trade with China dropped by 73 percent in the first three quarters of 2020, according to a report released last week by the Korea International Trade Association in Seoul.
This is compared with the same period last year.
Mr Tae-keung added during the hearing prices of sugar and spices in North Korea have risen due to a lack of imports from China.
He said North Korea’s “paranoia” over coronavirus went as far as refusing to accept 110,000 tons of rice aid offered by China.
China is also banned from fishing and salt production in North Korean waters due to concerns seawater could be contaminated with the virus.
North Korea also placed the city of Kaesong under lockdown recently following reports that a defector may have brought the coronavirus in.
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As part of the new stricter measure to curb a potential pandemic, North Korean state media also regularly reminds citizens about the importance of its emergency anti-epidemic campaign.
The Korean Central News Agency reported the country is now increasing measures to “completely remove uncivilised and unhygienic elements that could help make room for the spread of an epidemic”.
Evans Revere, a former US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific, is sceptical over North Korea still not reporting any cases of covid.
He added the new measures “suggest that an already serious situation”.
He told CNN: “The fact that we’re getting so many reports suggesting that there’s been a massive lockdown and crackdown, tells me that something significant is up.
“And it’s it doesn’t bode well for not only North Korea’s economy, but for the ability of many people to get by on a day-to-day basis in North Korea.
“This is a pretty serious situation for the North Korean leader, and this also may explain the relative quiet that we’ve seen from North Korea since the US presidential election.
“They may very well be inward-looking right now and trying to figure out how to get through the next few months.”
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