North Korea reinforces border control amid mounting Covid-19 worries

North Korea still claims zero Covid-19 cases.
North Korea still claims zero Covid-19 cases.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - North Korea said on Sunday (Nov 29) that it was reinforcing border lockdown to prevent the coronavirus pandemic from spreading into its territory. The regime still claims zero Covid-19 cases.

"Every effort is made to keep strong border closures and to ensure everyone stick to antivirus measures and report anything out of ordinary," the official Korean Central News Agency said, adding that it was enforcing tighter controls over the inter-Korean border.

Earlier this month, a North Korean man, now in Seoul's custody, crossed the border on foot into the South.

Pyongyang highlighted that it was instructing major fish farms to follow more stringent antivirus guidelines so as not to allow contaminated sea waste to trigger a virus outbreak.

Seoul's National Intelligence Service told the Parliament last Friday that leader Kim Jong Un's response to Covid-19 fears appears irrational, citing Pyongyang's suspension of salt fields as one clear example. The North reportedly banned them over concerns that they could contaminate its water.

The spy agency added that the North's continued blocking of food supplies, including rice, into the country that still remains unable to feed its own people shows that Mr Kim was not thinking through his options to combat the pandemic.

Mr Kim expects to convene a party congress in January and set a comprehensive economic initiative to jump-start the flailing economy. The meeting, however, could be delayed given the aggravating virus concerns in Pyongyang, Seoul's spy agency said.

The North has from time to time described self-help as the way for its people to power through obstacles ahead, such as Covid-19, and encouraged them to follow through on the state-driven campaign.