Having closed its borders in January in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus into the country from China, North Korea has declared that it has no cases of COVID-19. The country is believed to have established anti-coronavirus rules that involve “indiscriminate shooting” of anyone approaching its borders illegally. On 24 September 2020, the Republic of Korea accused North Korea of fatally shooting a public servant who was likely attempting to defect and was found in North Korean waters.
On 24 September 2020, commenting on the incident and North Korea’s claims regarding its lack of COVID-19 cases, a proliferation expert at the UK think tank RUSI told inews, “It’s really hard to know for sure whether or not there have been any cases of coronavirus in North Korea. Given the spread of the virus around the world, and North Korea’s trade relationship with China, I would be sceptical about North Korea’s no-cases claims. However, it’s also important to think about this critically, as the nature of the government and society in North Korea means that it is easier to implement and enforce measures that would stop the virus from spreading uncontrollably.”
In July, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered a city near the border with the Republic of Korea to be locked down after officials found a person who may have been infected with the coronavirus, state media reported.
- France24, “North Korea Issues Shoot-To-Kill Orders to Prevent Virus: US,” 11 September 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/20200911-north-korea-issues-shoot-to-kill-orders-to-prevent-virus-us
- J. Andersson, “Countries Without Covid: How Nations Such as Samoa and Micronesia are Coping with the Collateral Damage of the Pandemic,” inews, 25 September 2020, https://inews.co.uk/news/world/countries-without-covid-samoa-micronesia-coping-collateral-damage-pandemic-645574
- L. Chua and S. Kim, “North Korea’s Kim Locks Down City After Suspected Virus Case,” Bloomberg, 26 July 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-25/north-korea-locks-down-city-after-suspected-virus-case-kcna
- H. Kim, “North Korea ‘Very Sorry’ for Killing South Korean over Coronavirus Concerns,” Global News, 25 September 2020, https://globalnews.ca/news/7358085/north-korea-apology-south/