Defector May Have Just Brought COVID to North Korea
North Korea promises to protect its citizens from outside forces, but perhaps the coronavirus may pose the biggest risk to the hermit kingdom.
NORTH KOREA — North Korea promises to protect its citizens from outside forces, but perhaps the coronavirus may pose the biggest risk to the hermit kingdom.
Pyongyang's mouthpiece, KCNA reported that supreme leader Kim Jong Un hastily assembled an emergency meeting on July 25 after reports of a potentially infected defector — who fled the country three years prior — return to the city of Kaesong.
On July 27 South Korean authorities confirmed the crossing of the highly militarized border, but the Health Ministry said that the man was not a known coronavirus patient. The reason for his return is unconfirmed, however, South Korean police said the man was being investigated for a sex crime.
KCNA claimed the defector had symptoms of the virus, however, they did not declare whether or not he had been tested. The state-run outlet warned of an impending disaster, saying that a 'dangerous situation' was developing that could lead to a 'deadly and destructive disaster.'
North Korea had since claimed that there were no cases of the deadly virus within the country, despite a population of nearly 25 million people; leading to the possibility that Kim Jong Un's regime simply did not identify cases due to the lack of testing.
If the returning defector does test positive, resulting in a major outbreak, it could pose the biggest test to Kim's ruling of nearly nine years.
It's also conceivable that a positive result could be used as a means of propaganda. Pyongyang has so far claimed that it has protected its people from the virus by reporting zero cases, but if a man returning from the South is infected, Kim has reason to point out their failings.
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