The people of North Korea have no doubt that leader Kim Jong Un is in charge of the COVID-19 prevention plan.
When officials are executed for failing to follow protocol, it’s pretty clear.
This week, in another indication of coronavirus concern in North Korea, Kim has dismissed officials seen as failing to follow rigid guidelines regarding COVID-19.
It’s not clear what passes for the “grave consequences” Kim referenced as coming soon, but state media reported Wednesday that a few high-ranking officials have been replaced.
With limited resources and a stuttering economy, the country would have a difficult time handling a major COVID outbreak. Though North Korea has not reported any cases, it also has extremely limited capacity for testing.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) warned last summer of a “deadly and destructive disaster” when a defector from South Korea who had the disease came to the country.
Kim reportedly had two people executed for crimes related to the virus – one of whom was a customs official who violated guidelines concerning imported goods from China.
North Korea shut down its borders, a move that certainly helped virus prevention but has heavily compromised the economy as trade with Beijing ground to a halt.
Recently, Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, publicized a massive food shortage blamed on bad weather and trade issues.
A CNN story cites analysts’ beliefs that “Kim and the North Korean regime have tacitly accepted the costs of such an extreme plan to keep Covid-19 at bay because the country’s leaders recognize how the virus could overwhelm the health care system.”
North Korea has not received any coronavirus vaccines. President Joe Biden’s administration said it is willing to share vaccines with Pyongyang.