North Korea’s Nuclear Testing Despite Announcement of Corona Epidemic | FRIDAY DIGITAL

North Korea’s Nuclear Testing Despite Announcement of Corona Epidemic

North Korea, which never reveals its domestic situation, suddenly announced the spread of corona infection. Behind this announcement, we can see Kim Jong-un's impatience and true intentions.

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Kim Jong-un inspects a pharmacy. Kim Jong-un has been stressing “minor illnesses” at every turn in an effort to suppress public anxiety over the spread of corona infection.

On the 12th of this month, the Korean Central News Agency suddenly reported a corona outbreak in North Korea. This is a 180-degree turnaround from the stance of Kim Jong-un, who has maintained that the situation was under control with zero coronas.

As of May 20, the number of people suffering from the fever is estimated to have reached 2.24 million, and Kim Jong-un has described the situation as “the biggest uprising since the founding of the country” and has completely sealed off all cities. In the capital Pyongyang, nearly 3,000 military doctors have been dispatched to pharmacies to supply medicine from door to door in an effort to contain the outbreak.


It is speculated that a factor in the spread of the outbreak was the military parade on April 25, the anniversary of the founding of the military, in which soldiers from all over the country participated without masks. International journalist Toshihiro Yamada, however, says that it may not have been a zero-corona situation from the start.

The North Korean government immediately began implementing corona countermeasures in January 2020, he said. First of all, it is said that a border blockade was set up to prohibit traffic with foreign countries, and quarantine facilities were also built. However, from January to February, 3,700 military personnel were reportedly in quarantine, and 180 died…On October 10, 2020, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Jong-un said, ‘There are zero corona cases in North Korea,’ but foreign media pointed out that the reality is different. It is said that there was a gag order on corona infections and other matters.

According to information confessed to foreign media by a North Korean defector, “81,000 people will be quarantined by November 2020. This does not include soldiers, and the number of people suspected of having corona infection was said to be much higher. At this point, 10 critical care facilities had been set up, and it was reported that at least 300 people had died. 

A military parade celebrating the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Revolutionary Army took place in April. Although the specific number of participants was not disclosed, North Korea’s Workers’ Party of Korea newspaper, the Labor Daily, reported that it was “the largest political and military celebration in history.”

It is believed that the Corona disaster in North Korea is not a new phenomenon. Kim Jong-un has indicated that he intends to control the outbreak by referring to the ongoing city blockade in Shanghai and other cities, and to receive Chinese support for medical supplies.

So, why did he make this public at this time? Mr. Yamada continues.

The reason for keeping the infection under wraps is nothing other than Kim Jong-un wanting to show that he is taking proper measures domestically. The fact that the coronary infection is spreading is seen as damaging to Kim Jong-un’s reputation and prestige. I think the reason they are only now making it public is that it is evidence that the outbreak is spreading and getting out of control.

There are other reasons as well. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With this turmoil, North Korea has completely lost its presence in the international community. It has recently been on a missile launch spree, but it is not being taken seriously by any country. North Korea has always been a brinkmanship diplomat. I think one of their aims is to attract the world’s attention.”

With North Korea’s medical system reportedly weak and corona test kits in short supply, it remains unclear whether the country will be able to contain the outbreak even with China’s help, and South Korea’s Yoon administration, which just took office on May 10, quickly announced its support, but there has been no response from North Korea. What is expected in the future?

The U.S. will probably lobby for the provision of vaccines, if not directly, then through international organizations such as COVAX, which is led by the World Health Organization (WHO). I don’t know if North Korea will accept that. If Kim Jong-un wants to show that he can control the situation without relying on the West, he may not accept it. We need to get attention and get the West to negotiate with us. They will want to have the sanctions eased.

Now that they can no longer draw the attention of the international community by launching missiles, the biggest focus of attention is whether or not they will conduct a nuclear test. It is not inconceivable that they could conduct a successful nuclear test and issue a corona convergence declaration at the same time to emphasize the results of both.

In fact, Defense Minister Kishi said at a press conference on March 20, “There is a fear that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test as early as this month. While the spread of infection in North Korea is a serious matter, Japan must not neglect its vigilance in the face of increasingly aggressive military provocations.”

The release of the coronas sent shockwaves around the world. What steps will Kim Jong-un take in the future? What steps will Kim Jong-un take in the future?
  • Photo: Kyodo News Kyodo News

Photo Gallery3 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles