Kaesong

The fifth largest city in North Korea has been completely sealed off.

(Photo: AP)

Because of the first official suspected Corona case in the country, North Korea has completely closed off a big city for fear of a disaster. Despite the strictest epidemiological countermeasures in the past six months, “the malicious virus may have been introduced into the country,” the state media reported on Sunday.

The state of emergency has been declared for the region around the border town of Kaesong. The communist leadership announced the highest alarm level.

If the suspected case is confirmed, it would be the first official Sars-CoV-2 infection in the isolated country. According to its own statements, North Korea had so far not registered a single infection and described its defense measures as “shining success”. The information was questioned abroad.

The symptoms of the disease were reportedly found in an “outlier” who illegally crossed the military demarcation line between South and North Korea on July 19. The person had fled to South Korea three years ago and has now returned across the border.

There was initially no confirmation from South Korea for crossing the border within the four-kilometer-wide and mostly still mined military buffer zone.

The South Korean military believes illegal border crossing is possible

More than 33,000 North Koreans have fled south in the past 20 years, most of them across the porous border into China. It is more than unusual for a North Korean defector to return and then cross the mined border between the Koreas.

However, according to reports by the national news agency Yonhap, the South Korean military recognized the possibility of an illegal border crossing to North Korea as high. Video recordings from the border are examined. The investigation focused on an individual who may have crossed the line, it said.

By blaming a South Korean refugee for the virus’s introduction, the Pyongyang leadership is likely to blame South Korea, said Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul. Expert Cheong Seong Chang from the Sejong Institute in South Korea, on the other hand, said he did not think the story was invented by the defector.

North Korea said it called an emergency meeting of the Labor Party political bureau chaired by ruler Kim Jong Un on Saturday for the suspected case. The “dangerous situation in Kaesong could trigger a fatal and destructive disaster”.

As a preventive measure, Kim had already ordered on Friday to “completely block Kaesong and isolate each district and the region from others,” it said. The person concerned and all people in Kaesong who had been in contact with her were placed in quarantine.

The party’s central military commission should therefore investigate the “runaway case” and the behavior of the responsible military unit and, if necessary, impose severe punishment. An estimated 300,000 people live in Kaesong.

At a crisis meeting of the Politburo on Saturday, the report also said that the lax guarding of the border, which had made it possible for the suspected person to cross the border in the first place. It is considered a hard punishment of those responsible, it said.

More: North Korea – interior views of a dictatorship

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