North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has fired several senior party officials over the “serious” coronavirus incident to protect the public and spread rumors that the coronavirus has violated the country’s defense. “In the face of a global health crisis, officials in charge have neglected important party decisions, demanding organizational, material and scientific and technological measures to support protracted work against the epidemic, causing a catastrophic crisis for the country. The security of the country and the people, “state news agency KCNA reported, quoting Kim at a meeting the ruling party’s politburo.
KCNA has not explained the nature of the border violation, but analysts believe that Kim’s aggression indicates that North Korea is no longer free of Covid-19. As the epidemic began, North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia, cut off international air travel, and imposed strict restrictions on domestic travel. It told the World Health Organization that not a single case of Covid-19 was found after testing more than 30,000 people.
The demand has been met with skepticism by the international community, with experts warning that the country is unaware of the worrisome healthcare outbreak. Earlier this month, Kim called on authorities to prepare for long-term epidemic sanctions, saying he had no plans to ease border restrictions despite the damage done to the economy by natural disasters and international sanctions, imposed in response to the regime’s nuclear policy and the ballistic missile program.
North Korea is also facing a wait for a vaccine. Kovacs, a global vaccine-sharing initiative, said in February that North Korea could take 1.9 million doses in the first half of the year, but plans have been delayed due to a global shortage. Kim said at Tuesday’s meeting that party officials showed a “lack of capacity” and accused them of “self-protection and passivity.” Members of the Politburo Presidium – the highest decision-making body of the ruling Workers Party – and the Politburo have been removed and replaced at Tuesday’s meeting, KCNA said.
Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean player who is now a researcher at the World Institute of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the report “basically means that North Korea has confirmed the case.”