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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 12, 2020
Can I travel within the United States?
- Many states have travel restrictions, and many are taking active measures to enforce those restrictions, such as issuing fines or requiring visitors to quarantine for 14 days. Here you have an increasingly up-to-date list of restrictions across the country. In general, travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus, as you will meet more people than if you were left at home in your “pod”. “Staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and others from Covid-19,” says the CDC. If you travel, take precautions. If you can, drive the car. If you have to fly, be careful in choosing the airline. But know that airlines are taking real steps to keep airplanes clean and limit your risk.
I have antibodies. Am I immune?
- For now, this seems likely, for at least a few months. There have been scary stories about people suffering from what appears to be a second period of Covid-19. But experts say these patients may have an withdrawn course of infection, with the virus taking a slow week to months after initial exposure. People infected with coronavirus usually produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins made in response to an infection. These antibodies can last in the body for only two to three months, which may seem disturbing, but this is perfectly normal as an acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get the coronavirus again, but it is very unlikely that it will be possible in a short window of time from the initial infection or make people sicker a second time.
I am a small business owner. Can I get relief?
- Incentive bills approved in March provide assistance to millions of small US businesses. Eligible for assistance are businesses and non-profit organizations with less than 500 employees, including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and freelance translators. Some larger enterprises in some industries are also eligible. The assistance provided, which is being managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Payment Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Credit program. But many people have not yet seen payments. Even those who have received help are confused: The rules are draconian, and some are stuck sitting with money they do not know how to use. Many small business owners are getting less than they expected or did not hear at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about returning to work?
What will the school look like in September?
- It is unlikely that many schools will return to a normal schedule this fall, demanding that online learning, perfect childcare and busy workdays continue. California’s two largest public school districts – Los Angeles and San Diego – said on July 13 that the guidelines would be remote only in the fall, citing concerns that coronavirus infections in their areas pose a very high risk to students and teachers. Together, the two districts enroll about 825,000 students. They are the largest in the country so far to abandon plans for even a partial physical return to the classrooms when they reopen in August. For other districts, the solution will not be an all or nothing approach. Many systems, including the largest city, New York City, are designing hybrid plans that include spending a few days in class and other days online. There is still no national policy on this, so check your municipal school system regularly to see what is happening in your community.
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.