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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un faces a COVID-19 crisis and a tough new adversary in the south

In late April, after weeks of rigorous rehearsals, North Korea’s armed forces staged one of their signature military parades to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

About 20,000 people participated, with soldiers marching in perfect harmony before enthusiastic crowds waving mini North Korean flags.

The regime’s newest intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, was displayed worldwide.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un wore a white “imperial” suit for the momentous occasion.

Some analysts believe that COVID-19 was circulating at a mass rally held to mark the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army. (Korean Central News Agency via Reuters)

But while the choreographed show of confidence was underway, a COVID-19 catastrophe was brewing.

Weeks later, the North Korean regime admitted that it was around that time that a mysterious “fever” was first discovered sweeping the country.

Dominique Fraser, a research associate at the Asia Society Policy Institute, said reporting on the secret state took “guesswork.” Still, soldiers testing positive for COVID-19 has led to speculation that the parade was a major source of the outbreak.

“It is very difficult for North Korean leaders — especially in April, around those celebrations — to admit that something could go wrong in the country,” Fraser said.

“It just gets out of hand.”

North Korea’s secretive tendencies make COVID harder to track

According to the World Health Organization, North Korea is one of only two countries to be completely unvaccinated, and its healthcare system is decrepit.

The other is the northeast African nation of Eritrea.

Although North Korean state television has confirmed that the Omicron variant has been detected, it is impossible to ensure the outbreak’s true extent due to the state’s secretive nature and a serious lack of testing capacity.

Most, if not all, of the 1.7 million confirmed cases of “fever” are generally expected to be COVID-19.

But not just the absence of vaccines or high-quality healthcare makes the country vulnerable.

North Korea relies on outdated farming practices, so an outbreak that keeps farmers away from their crops could be dangerous for the nation. (Reuters: Reinhard Krause)

About 40 percent of the population is malnourished.

The country’s food security is weak after recent poor harvests, and farmers have been told to buy fertilizer due to a lack of fertilizer.

The United Nations has warned that a prolonged lockdown could be catastrophic for the impoverished country.

“The regime has little respect for its people,” Fraser said, adding that North Korea “definitely has the audacity” to follow in China’s footsteps with strict curfews and lockdowns.

“But on the other hand, they are not China. For two years, their economy has suffered from economic mismanagement, US sanctions, and closed borders.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, and up and down hands for volume. Watch Duration: 1 minute 22 seconds 1m 22s The WHO said earlier this week that China’s COVID-zero policy would not be “sustainable” given its impact on human rights.

Let Kim ask North Korea for help.

An allegedly outraged Kim Jong-un has expressed dismay at the lack of medicines in pharmacies and has labeled the country’s health officials “immature” for failing to contain the outbreak.

He mobilized the military to lead the response.

The situation is likely a major embarrassment to the regime, which has long dubiously claimed to be COVID-free.

North Korea has reported more than 1.5 million cases of “fever,” believed to be COVID-19. (AP: Cha Song Ho/File)

The injury would add to the insult if the military parade were a super spreader event.

North Korea has stubbornly refused to accept outside aid, including vaccines.

“The regime prioritizes control over effectiveness,” said Dr. Go Myong-Hyun of The Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

†[Vaccinations] should be carried out on a large scale and in a very short time. North Korea cannot do it.

“The regime is probably concerned about its view. The view that the regime is not capable enough.”

COVID is not the only threat that worries Kim Jong Un

The outbreak also comes amid a “year of provocations,” with the North Korean defense taking every opportunity to show off its latest military technology.

A flurry of recent tests included a submarine-launched ballistic missile and the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, which could theoretically hit the mainland United States.

According to the United States and South Korea, the country will likely conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

Pyongyang’s recent stance has been attributed partly to the rise of conservative South Korean leader Yoon Suk-you, who has taken an aggressive stance against the North and declared himself unwavering in the US alliance.

That has led to threats and counter-threats between arch-rivals North and South Korea.

State media reported at the end of March about the successful test of a “new type” intercontinental ballistic missile. (Korean Central News Agency via Reuters)

“Yoon was not shy about talking about things like preemptive strikes against the North Korean command,” said journalist Jeongmin Kim, chief correspondent for the online publication NK News.

†[There’s been] a change in North Korea’s rhetoric as they allude to the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons against South Korea, not just the United States.”

South Korea’s new president will host US President Joe Biden, who arrives today, before visiting Tokyo for the Quad Leader’s Summit with Australia, India, and Japan.

Yoon Suk-you won South Korea’s presidential election in March. (Reuters: Kim Hong-Ji/Pool)

Eyes will be on how the North behaves during this time, with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan telling reporters there is a “real possibility” of North Korea conducting a nuclear or missile test to coincide with the President’s visit. Biden.

South Korean intelligence has reported that preparations for a nuclear test are “complete”.

Dr. Go says the Nowill is likelyy to proceed with planned weapons tests after years of hard work, but Omicron’s outbreak makes such predictions difficult.

“The arrival of the Omicron variant represents an external shock to the regime,” he said.

“The regime is probably very surprised. This could slow down their external provocations. It could affect their military production.

“Regarding the big picture, I would expect a slowdown.”

A significant COVID-19 outbreak could spark a humanitarian crisis in North Korea, which is believed to be unvaccinated. (Kyodo via Reuters)

Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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