Explained: What we know about Covid-19 in North Korea


Communist-led North Korea, which throughout the pandemic has claimed very dubiously that it has no cases of Covid, has now shown a rare sign of distress.

Kim Jong-un, his dictator, blamed senior party officials for failures that caused a Covid-19-related “serious incident” that threatened public safety, state media reported.

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“By disregarding important party decisions that called for organizational, material, scientific and technological measures to support protracted anti-epidemic work in the face of a global health crisis, officials caused a serious incident that created a huge crisis for the security of the country and its people, ”Kim said at a meeting of the ruling party’s political bureau, according to the official KCNA news agency.

Although the press release did not clarify the nature of the transgressions, experts interpret the news as an admission that Covid has raped the isolated and impoverished country.

What do we know about Covid in North Korea?

North Korea borders China and South Korea, countries that experienced the first outbreaks of the virus. While its southern border is heavily militarized, its border with China is relatively porous.

In 2020, his totalitarian regime was quick to act, banning all foreign tourists on January 23 and declaring a “state of emergency” a week later. In early February, he did not confirm South Korean reports of the infections, but applied more stringent measures, such as closing schools on February 20. The same months saw international flights, as well as road and sea connections, suspended and a warrant mask was executed.

On March 18, Kim Jong-un ordered the construction of new hospitals, but said the development was linked to improving the country’s health system, and did not mention Covid-19. At the end of the month, the government said 10,000 people had been quarantined.

The Hong Kong-based Asia Times and US analytics site 38 North wrote at the time that the secret country’s early and effective measures appeared to have stemmed the onset of the pandemic. In April, the country held its national assembly, which hundreds of delegates attended without wearing masks.

In June, North Korea told the WHO that all educational institutions in the country were now open. In late July, Kim declared a state of emergency and imposed lockdown in the city of Kaesong after a suspected Covid-19 case was reported.

According to South Korean intelligence, a North Korean official was executed in August for bringing goods from China into the country. The government has also reportedly locked up Pyongyang and refused to accept rice shipments from China for fear of letting the virus in. In October, state media said the world was watching North Korea with envy because of its Covid-free status.

In March of this year, the country announced that it would skip the Tokyo Olympics this year. In April, Kim admitted that North Korea was facing its “worst situation ever” when it came to the economic impact of the pandemic.


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