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Home / World / North Korea, fighting to prevent viruses and floods, says no thanks to foreign aid

North Korea, fighting to prevent viruses and floods, says no thanks to foreign aid



SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says the country is facing “two crises at once” – battling the spread of the coronavirus and tackling major flood damage. But Mr. Kim has ordered his country not to accept any international aid for fear that foreign aid could bring Covid-19, state media reported on Friday.

Mr Kim, who spoke during a Labor Party meeting at the Labor Party on Thursday, said he sympathized with the “great pain” of families who had lost their homes to the floods and were living in temporary shelters. .

But he said that “the situation, in which the spread of the malignant virus throughout the world has worsened, requires that we do not allow any outside help for flood damage, but close the narrowest border and carry out strict anti-flood work. -epidemic, “according to the official North Korean Central News Agency.

The dual pandemic and flood disasters have exacerbated Mr Kim’s economic woes. The Northern economy, already blocked by sanctions imposed by the United Nations on its development of nuclear weapons, has passed this year in a twist as fears of coronavirus infections deep cut into its exports and imports with China, its main trading partner. of the country.

An extremely long monsoon season, as well as rainfall this month, has caused floods and landslides in North and South Korea. But the North said the natural disaster had damaged 96,300 hectares of farmland and 16,680 homes, as well as roads, embankments and railway lines. Most of the damage was reported in the southern and western provinces, a bread basket for North Korea, which has suffered from chronic food shortages even during normal years.

North Korea has also taken drastic action against the coronavirus, sealing its borders in late January and quarantining all diplomats in Pyongyang for a month. He closed the border town of Kaesong last month, suspecting a guard who crossed the border from South Korea of ​​carrying the virus with him.

North Korea’s swift action was prompted by fears that a Covid-19 explosion could seriously prove its healthy undecided public system and economy, already struggling under international sanctions, analysts said.

On Friday, however, North Korea lifted the blockade, “based on scientific verification and guarantee by a professional anti-demid organization.”

North Korea’s state-run news media have long insisted there are no cases of the coronavirus in the country, although foreign experts have questioned the claim. The North did not disclose whether the defender who crossed back from South Korea had tested positive for the virus, and officials in the South have said there is no evidence he had it.

The global pandemic and slippery flood damage come as Mr. Kim has failed to lift UN sanctions on his stalled diplomatic relations with President Trump.

Excluding foreign aid, Mr. Kim appeared to have denied Seoul and Washington a chance to thaw relations with the North through humanitarian missions.

“North Korea’s refusal to provide flood relief is supposed to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 in the country,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “But humanitarian aid is highly politicized by the Kim regime, as it does not want to show weakness to the country’s population or international rivals.”

North Korea closed business with neighboring China, which accounts for nine-tenths of its foreign trade, and blocked smugglers from operating its thriving informal markets. The country’s exports to China, hit hard by border closures, fell to $ 27 million in the first half of this year, down 75 percent from a year earlier, according to the Korean Institute for National Unification in Seoul. Imports from China fell 67 percent to $ 380 million.

About 60 percent of North Korea’s population faces food insecurity this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

The floods and the fear of the coronavirus have also complicated Mr. Kim’s plan to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the ruling Labor Party on October 10 with pomp and spectacle.

“We cannot make flood-affected people celebrate the 75th anniversary of the homeless holiday,” Mr Kim said during a Politburo meeting, urging his government to restore people’s lives as soon as possible.

The Northern leader has been visiting flood-affected areas in recent weeks, sometimes photographing himself driving his car, and has ordered the release of spare grains for hard-hit cities, in a visible attempt to demonstrate what he has called the state news media. his leadership “beloved of the people.”

During the Politburo meeting, Mr. Kim replaced Prime Minister Kim Jae-ryong, who was in charge of the cabinet and the economy, with Kim Tok-hun, a senior official in the Workers’ Party. The outgoing prime minister was given a senior post within the party.

Mr Kim also set up Ri Pyong-chol, an official in charge of North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development, on the Politburo’s senior steering committee, along with the new prime minister.


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