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Kim Jong Un reveals 'great crisis' in North Korea

Even though no details about the nature of the incident were given, the country's official mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency, quoted Kim as saying that cadres neglected important decisions for prolonged national quarantine efforts in dereliction of duty. 

Kim Jong Un reveals 'great crisis' in North Korea-VPN
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Pyongyang, First Published Jun 30, 2021, 1:26 PM IST
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly said that 'grave' quarantine negligence has created a crisis, hinting at Covid risk that could affect his rule after his regime repeatedly denied any infections. 

Even though no details about the nature of the incident were given, the country's official mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency, quoted Kim as saying that cadres neglected important decisions for prolonged national quarantine efforts in dereliction of duty. 

The report read, "He (Kim) seriously pointed out that chronic irresponsibility and incompetence of cadres at present bring artificial difficulties to the implementation of the Party's policies and become a major brake, doing tremendous harm to the development of the revolutionary work." 

The country has claimed that it has no cases of coronavirus. The claims have been doubted by the US and Japan. 

North Korea claims it has taken drastic quarantine measures that have worsened the economic crisis in the country, including closing borders with its biggest trade partner, China. The virus brings a large risk to the country as its outdated medical systems will not be able to handle an infection wave. 

Cheong Seong-chang, the Unification Strategy Studies Program director at Sejong Institute near Seoul, said that it would be a bit hasty to make any definitive conclusions based on the KCNA report, given it lacked in detail. 

But North Korea has been particularly sensitive about the pandemic as it lacks testing kits and medical facilities. 

He added that North Korea sees the virus as a threat to its already struggling economy and Kim's rule. 

In April, Fitch Solutions said that the country's economy, which has suffered its worst contraction in decades last year is on track to barely recover this year because of the pandemic, border restriction with China and international sanctions as punishment for nuclear-weapons testing. 

About a year ago, Kim's regime locked down the border city of Kaesong because it feared that a person who defected from South Korea might have been infected. 

According to state media, it investigated the military unit responsible for patrols and pledged to 'administer severe punishment' to those responsible. 

According to Gavi, the non-profit group that delivers immunisations, the country has received no vaccine doses through Covax. 

Japan's Kyodo News reported that the country was supposed to receive 1.7 billion doses of the AstraZeneca shots by the end of May, but shipments were delayed after it was unwilling to follow Covax instructions and rules. 

The country is eligible to receive vaccines through the WHO-backed Covax program but has shown hesitancy. During the pandemic, the country's small international contingent of foreign officials and residents dwindled as it pressurised them to leave. 

The Kim regime sees risks in bringing people from the outside world to deliver vaccines. The country's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, wrote in an article in June that they may not be able to protect people from the virus spreading or new strains of the virus, expressing doubt over the vaccines. 

The news on the quarantine incident followed a rare report on state TV that discussed Kim's health. It also cited a citizen report over North Koreans breaking down in tears overseeing a drastically-thinner Kim -- a move that might have been made to garner sympathy as the country struggles with food shortage and an economic crisis.

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