COVID-19 in North Korea: Executions, capital lockdown, fishing ban
According to the latest reports, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is taking some drastic steps, such as shutting down the capital city of Pyongyang and banning fishing, in order to halt the spread of COVID-19 in his hermit state.
Kim was reportedly taking “irrational measures” in a bout of coronavirus “paranoia”, ordering the execution of at least two people, banning fishing at sea and closing North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang.
According to South Korea’s spy agency, the Supreme Leader of North Korea banned fishing and salt production because of fears that seawater might have been contaminated with the virus.
This marine-related anti-virus paranoia reportedly also means 110,000 tons of rice from China has been stranded in the northeastern Chinese port of Dalian.
A number of regional lockdowns in the North, including the capital Pyongyang and other areas where officials found unauthorized foreign goods and currencies, were reported.
One of the two people allegedly executed, a high-profile currency trader, was reportedly responsible for a falling exchange rate. The other, an important public official, was executed in August after violating government regulations which restrict goods being brought in from abroad.
Despite these reported moves, Pyongyang is yet to publicly confirm any COVID-19 cases.
Earlier evidence suggested that Kim was taking the pandemic very seriously, with strict border closures and restrictions on movement since January.
In October, North Korean TV warned citizens to stay indoors over fears that a “yellow dust” cloud, which was blowing over from China, included “toxic material, virus, and pathogenic microorganism.” The streets of the capital were reportedly empty following the warning.
In July, Kaesong, the historic capital of a united Korea, was locked down due a suspected COVID-19 case after the person illegally crossed the border. The lockdown was lifted after three weeks.