Kim Yo Jong, senior North Korean leader and sister of North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, slammed the South Korean foreign minister for questioning the North’s claim to be coronavirus free, warning Wednesday of potential consequences for the comments.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, over the weekend, said it is hard to believe that there have been no coronavirus cases on its soil. Kyung-wha also said the North had rejected the South’s offer to fight the pandemic jointly, an AP report reads.
"It can be seen from the reckless remarks made by her without any consideration of the consequences that she is too eager to further chill the frozen relations between North and South Korea," Yo Jong said.
“Her real intention is very clear. We will never forget her words and she might have to pay dearly for it,” she added.
Kim Jong Un, at the military parade on October 10 had said the country hadn’t a single case of the coronavirus. North Korea has consistently been claiming that it has had zero coronavirus cases. Yo Jong snapping up to slam remarks by Kyung-wha show how the nation is sensitive to what is seen as an outside attempt to tarnish its image, that has been closely guarded against the pandemic and the economic fallout.
The country has been running a “maximum emergency” anti-epidemic campaign in which it has closed its international borders, flown out diplomats and isolated residents with suspected symptoms. North Korea shutting the borders it shares with China, a close trade partner, has been disastrous for its already fragile economy. The situation has been so dire, that in August Kim Jong Un asked dog owners to give up their pets for meat, as the country faced an acute food shortage.
According to experts, a major outbreak in North Korea could seriously hamper its economy and mean disaster otherwise due to its fragile health care system.
South Korea’s foreign minister told a forum in Bahrain on Saturday that the pandemic had “made North Korea more North Korea — that is, more closed, very top-down decision-making process where there is very little debate on their measures in dealing with COVID-19”.
“They still say they do not have any cases, which is hard to believe,” Kyung-wha said. “So, all signs are the regime is very intensely focused on controlling the disease that they say they do not have,” she added.