WHO says no cases of COVID-19 in DPRK, despite statements by Kim Jong-un

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on June 30 that no cases of the coronavirus have yet been reported in the DPRK.

“WHO is not aware of any reports of a serious incident involving a loosening of anti-epidemic measures, other than those shared by the media. According to the latest update on COVID-19 provided by the WHO government [as of June 24], no cases of COVID-19 have yet been reported in the DPRK,” the WHO press office said.

Earlier in the day, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced a “great crisis” regarding the spread of the coronavirus in the DPRK, which threatens the security of the country and its citizens.

Since the discovery of COVID-19 in Wuhan in 2019, North Korean authorities have blocked movement toward Russian and Chinese destinations, although they have subsequently temporarily opened their borders with Russia for the movement of commodity flows. The government has stated that no cases of contamination have been detected within the country, but information has previously surfaced about a certain citizen who moved to South Korea several years ago and returned illegally. There are reports that he was accused of spreading COVID, but there have been no official reports with the results of infection tests on the subject.

Earlier in April, it was reported that North Korean athletes would not participate in the Tokyo Summer Olympics amid the spread of the coronavirus. The impact of the pandemic in North Korea was also reflected in the diplomatic environment: a large number of representatives of other countries’ interests left the country, and Peter Ilyichev, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s International Organizations Department, noted that humanitarian organizations curtailed their activities amid the Korean quarantine.