the regime admits six victims. But 350,000 citizens have a fever –

from Paul Salom

Eighteen thousand cases in one day, no vaccination campaign: Covid-19 is rampant in the “Hermit Kingdom”. Kim Jong-un in public with a mask

After the admission of the presence of the virus, now the confirmation of the first arrives from North Korea deaths from Covid-19: you are the certified victims at the moment. Assuming it is true that in the last two years the various waves have never crossed the borders of North Korea – and it really is not clear how it was possible – the news of this sudden spread of the Omicron variant in the hermit kingdom represents a challenge not only for the authorities of the country.

In North Korea, as far as is known (little) a vaccination campaign has never been launched. The only defense against infections, until yesterday, was isolation from the rest of the world. But it is clear that no border, although hermetic, it is able to stop the spread of Covid-19: considering, then, that the survival of North Koreans is largely linked to
aid arriving from China
and also (if not above all) to smuggling across the Yalu River, the dividing line between North Korea and the Chinese province of Liaoning, the occasions of contagion are much more frequent than in Pyongyang they can imagine.

In any case, after 24 long months of silence, the KCNA, the regime’s official agency, began publishing alarming statistics. At the moment, over 180,000 people have been placed in solitary confinement, of the six confirmed deaths, one has already been linked with the virus. But they are over 350 thousand feverish citizens suspected of having contracted the disease, an increase of 18,000 cases last Tuesday alone. Until now, every offer of medical aid (in particular vaccines: from China and Russia) has always been flatly rejected: more than the general health conditions, the regime is distressed by the possibility of opening itself to foreigners, who would be necessary to educate the operators. locals. International experts do not hide a great concern. Because the 26 million North KoreansHuman Rights Watch says, for example, they are chronically malnourishedand they have insufficient health facilities available for ordinary administration, let alone a pandemic capable of putting a strain on the apparatuses of more developed countries.

So the concern, starting with neighboring South Korea, is really great. Also because in times of difficulty, the regime led by Kim Jong-un, and before him by his father Kim Jong-il and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, has a habit of reacting by shooting against the imaginary ghosts of an encirclement. Every generational change at the top was marked by even bloody war actions. It is the first time, however, that the threat from the outside is as real as it is invisible (and virtually unstoppable). That is why strong chills (but not of fever) run down the back of the leaders of neighboring governments.

May 13, 2022 (change May 13, 2022 | 11:04 am)

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