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Home / World / North Korea, which fights to stop viruses and floods, says not to ask for outside aid

North Korea, which fights to stop viruses and floods, says not to ask for outside aid



SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said the country is facing “two crises at the same time” – to fight the spread of the coronavirus and deal with the damage. due to widespread flooding. But Mr. Kim ordered his country not to accept any international aid out of fear that outside help might bring Covid-19, state media reported on Friday.

Mr. Kim, who spoke at the meeting of the ruling Workers Party’s Politburo meeting on Thursday, said he sympathized with the “great pain” of families who lost their homes due to floods and are living in places. temporary shelter.

But he said “the situation, in which the spread of the malignant virus around the world has worsened, requires us not to allow any outside aid for damage caused by the floods,” he said. close the border and carry out strict anti-epidemic work, “according to North Korea’s Official News Agency.

The double catastrophes of the pandemic and flooding exacerbated Mr. Kim’s economic troubles. The North Korean economy, which has been affected by UN sanctions on the development of nuclear weapons, has gone into trouble this year due to concerns about a deeply impacting coronavirus infection. Its exports and imports with China, its main trading partner.

An unusually long monsoon wave, as well as torrential rains this month, have caused floods and landslides in both North and South Korea. But the North said the natural disaster damaged 96,300 acres of farmland and 16,680 homes, as well as roads, embankments and railways. Most of the damage reported has been in the southern and western provinces, which supply North Korea with bread, which has been experiencing chronic food shortages even during normal years.

North Korea has also taken drastic action against the coronavirus, closing its border in late January and quarantining all diplomats in Pyongyang for a month. It locked the border city of Kaesong last month, on suspicion of a fugitive who had crossed the border from South Korea back to the border with the virus.

North Korea’s rapid actions were fueled by fears that the Covid-19 outbreak could seriously test the undernourished public health system and its economy, analysts said. mixed with international sanctions, the analysts said.

However, on Friday, North Korea lifted its embargo, “based on scientific verification and assurance by a professional anti-epidemic organization”.

North Korea’s state media have long asserted that there are no cases of coronavirus infection in the country, although outside experts have questioned this claim. North Korea did not disclose whether a fugitive returning from South Korea tested positive for the virus, and Southern officials said there was no evidence that he had the disease.

A global pandemic and the damage caused by flooding is increasing as Mr Kim is unable to lift sanctions by the United Nations due to his delayed diplomatic relations with President Trump.

By excluding outside aid, Kim appears to have denied giving Seoul and Washington the chance to thaw relations with the North through humanitarian shipments.

“The North Korean refusal to provide flood relief is ostensibly to prevent Covid-19’s transmission into the country,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “However, humanitarian aid was politicized a lot by the Kim regime, because they did not want to show their weakness to the people at home or to international opponents.”

North Korea has shut down business with neighboring China, which accounts for nine-tenths of foreign trade, and controls smugglers who keep informal markets thriving. their activities. According to the Korean National Unification Institute in Seoul, the country’s exports to China, heavily affected by the border closure, plummeted to $ 27 million in the first half of this year, down 75 percent from with a year ago, according to the Korea National Unification Institute in Seoul. Imports from China decreased 67%, to 380 million USD.

About 60% of the North Korean population faces food insecurity this year, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Floods and coronavirus fears have also complicated Kim’s plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party on October 10 with an epic sight.

Kim said during the Politburo meeting, calling on the government to return people’s lives to normal as soon as possible: “We cannot make those affected by floods celebrate their 75th anniversary. the party becomes homeless.

The North Korean leader has visited flood-affected areas in recent weeks, has sometimes been photographed driving his own car and has ordered the release of a reserve grain to the affected towns. heavily, in a clear attempt to demonstrate what state media has called for his “loving everyone” leadership ability.

During the Politburo meeting, Kim replaced Prime Minister Kim Jae-ryong, who is in charge of cabinet and economy, with Kim Tok-hun, a senior official in the Workers’ Party. The departure prime minister was given a high-ranking party position.

Kim also raised Ri Pyong-chol, a North Korean official in charge of missile and nuclear weapons development, to the top leadership of the Politburo, along with the new prime minister.


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