aLast Sunday, Kim Jong-un lifted the lockdown in Pyongyang. At least that’s what NKNews, a North Korea specialist, and Yonhap News Agency – both based in the South Korean capital, Seoul – reported, citing conspiratorial information from the capital. There are no official confirmations of this yet.
Getting unofficial assurances from Western circles in Pyongyang became practically impossible, because with the exception of a few employees from the former Eastern Bloc countries, from China or Iran, there were no longer any diplomats or other foreigners in North Korea.
However, NKNews has always proven to be reliable. last day North Korea’s specialist website DailyNK* reported that the curfew in the northern city of Hyesan was eased a few days ago. Overall, the strict lockdown in North Korea has lasted less than two and a half weeks — a circumstance, according to DailyNK In China with a month-long curfew It was commented arrogantly by netizens.
Kim justifies the mitigation – how could it be otherwise in his country – the imminent “victory” over the “epidemic”. All the main numbers, the so-called new “fever cases” – behind which all Corona infections can be – as well as the new official cases of corona have fallen sharply since the end of last week, according to the system.
The absolute number of patients remains alarmingly high. Pyongyang remains on top with 709678 “fever cases” and 42 confirmed cases of corona, followed by neighboring South Pyongan Province, which has 353,903 “fever cases” and 36 confirmed cases of corona infection. According to the system, only six out of ten provinces in the country have confirmed their infection with the virus. These are all in the south or southwest. The north (that is, almost the entire part of the country bordering China) is already free of corona.
However, the epidemic map is problematic for Kim Jong-un – for two reasons. First, in the capital, Pyongyang, and in the supposedly completely coronavirus-free northern province of Ryanggang, people died in double numbers from a suspected “fever”, ten for each person.
Ryanggang is home to the luxurious Samjiyon Resort, which is one of two Alpine vacation destinations for distinct capitals. Next comes the province, which includes the Masikryong ski resort and holiday beach resorts under the State Security, the Ministry of Interior and other key departments, south of the coastal city of Wonsan.
All other counties reported no more than one or three “fever” deaths. This reinforces the impression that the Corona outbreak is a disease of the regime elite, for whose recovery the entire country must now be responsible.
The second reason is more uncomfortable for Kim, because if this is true, the North Koreans can say: only one person is responsible for the closure, for the entire outbreak of Corona – Kim Jong Un himself.
Zero patients have been identified
According to information from Daily NK, the North Korean authorities identified the cause of the Corona outbreak in mid-May. So Patient Zero was a foreign trade official who is said to have contracted omicron while controlling Chinese imports at the border with neighboring China — or his nephew, who was infected when the official returned to Pyongyang.
He is a student at the University of Foreign Trade and transmitted the virus to his fellow students there. On April 25, the border area of Dandong went into strict lockdown due to the eruption of Omicron volcano.
On the same day, a huge military parade was held in Pyongyang in honor of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung. There was an injured nephew and his fellow students. A few days later, after another show, the students and pupils were greeted by Kim – the nephew of the foreign trade official was also here and it is said that he was very close to the great Kim during the photo session.
The students then took special leave and traveled to neighboring counties – a privilege enjoyed only by the state’s top elite. When the authorities finally realized that the travelers were distributing the omicron variant in the country, all the red lights went on in Pyongyang.
Not only has public health been threatened, but system security has been threatened as well, in two ways. For one thing, the country would face a full-blown epidemic due to a lack of vaccines and testing capacity, which would belie all the regime’s propaganda. On the other hand, the country would be leaderless if Kim and his inner circle became impotent at the same time with severe symptoms.
So closure was needed immediately. But this will only work if you abandon the fantasy of a Corona-free North Korea. According to the officials’ analysis, a shutdown without an acceptable justification could spark resistance.
At least that is the description of the informant or informants who are said to have contacted DailyNK. Could you be right? One indication of this is Kim’s accusation that the authorities made a “fatal mistake”. Kim raised it at a special meeting of the Politburo when the lockdown was imposed. Indeed, the failure to detect or report an injury to the show’s assistants in time was an omission.
If the version is correct, then of course it can be said that Kim Jong-un was not responsible for the student’s injury. But because Kim wanted his military parade to be on April 25 at all costs, even though he had held only one military parade six months earlier, in early October – that’s why the virus spread, only because of this military bravado that an official’s nephew might get sick for her Such consequences.
When it became clear that the virus had spread at a meeting of officials shortly thereafter – Kim and his entourage were said to be unaffected – the rush began. The Politburo, which usually meets approximately every six months, meets almost every week. Kim had to bring the plague under control immediately, and put it under his personal control in order to maintain the regime’s supremacy in interpretation and action.
Lifting the closure and declaring partial victory on Sunday is a stage on this path. It remains to be seen whether residents believe the numbers and whether they are true from a distance. North Korea watchers have already noted that the total number of all North Korean “fever” and Krona cases provided by the system and the numbers released by the system for individual provinces do not match.
* DailyNK is a Seoul-based media outlet founded by North Korean refugees, but not affiliated with the local government. editor