The first case of COVID-19 is suspected to have been found in North Korea. Leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency and lockdown after someone returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border.
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North Korea’s KCNA state news says someone who defected to South Korea three years ago returned with symptoms of COVID-19.
“An emergency event happened in Kaesong City where a runaway who went to the south three years ago, a person who is suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus returned on July 19 after illegally crossing the demarcation line,” KCNA said.
Cho Han-bum, a senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, told Reuters that North Korea’s claim that the case is imported from South Korea is noteworthy.
“North Korea is in such a dire situation, where they can’t even finish building the Pyongyang General Hospital on time. Pointing the blame at an ‘imported case’ from South Korea, the North can use this as a way to openly accept aid from the South,” Cho explained.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staffs admit there is a “high chance” that someone did cross the border according to surveillance footage. “Our military has specified some people and is verifying facts in close collaboration with related agencies,” the JCS said.