Kim-Jong-un-run North Korea, which had so far claimed that not a single case of Coronavirus had been reported in the country, has now started reflecting signs of crisis and distress caused by the pandemic. The supreme leader of the country Kim-Jong-un according to the state-run media has blamed senior officials of the administration for the lapses that caused a “grave incident” which put the safety of public at risk, the Indian Express reported.
The government-controlled media of the country quoted Kim-Jong-un as saying that guilty officials caused a grave crisis in the country by neglecting the decisions made by the ruling party to take organisational, material and science and technological measures to battle the pandemic. While the media clearly refrained from spelling out what it meant by the “grave crisis” and how widespread was Coronavirus in the country, it indicated that the country had been substantially affected by the pandemic.
How significant is North Korea’s admission?
With neighbouring countries like China and South Korea, North Korea was understood to be one of the most vulnerable countries to the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 when it was causing havoc in China’s Wuhan city. However, the country defied predictions and took major steps including banning all foreign tourists starting from January 23 last year. While few reports from its nemesis South Korea hinted at the presence of Coronavirus patients in the country, the dictatorship refused to acknowledge any Coronavirus cases. The reclusive dictator Kim-Jong-un ordered construction of new hospitals in the month of March same year hinting at a brewing crisis but the government officially maintained that new hospitals were aimed at improving the country’s health infrastructure and had nothing to do with the pandemic. The administration did admit that it had put more than 10000 suspected patients of Coronavirus under quarantine the same month.
Even as the virus took gigantic shape in most parts of the world by April last year, the North Korean government organised its national assembly where delegates attended the meet without wearing face-masks. For few months afterwards the North Korean regime, which is more often than not a usual target of media and most Western countries, became the cause of envy as it seemed to be functioning without a trace of COvid-19 panic and fear. In the same year in June when the world was seeing the worst of the pandemic, the government informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that all educational institutions in the country were open and functioning well.
However from July, 2020 the Covid-19 management of the country went downhill as a state emergency was proclaimed by Kim-Jong-un and imposed complete lockdown in the Kaesong city after one Covid19 patient was traced in the city. The country known for its heartless and brutal state machinery was also reported to have executed an official for allegedly bringing goods into the country from China. The panic-stricken government went to the extent of refusing the supplies of rice sent by its patron China fearing entry of the virus.
Early this year, supreme leader of the country Kim-Jong-un acknowledged for the first time that the country was facing the worst ever situation on account of economic hardships and lack of food supplies impacted by the pandemic.