Kim Jong-un’s influential sister has launched a scathing verbal attack on the South Korean foreign minister over North Korea’s claims that there is not a single case of Kovid-19 in the country.
Kim Yoo-youngThe North Korean leader’s younger sister called Kang Kyung-wa’s remarks “reckless” and accused him of trying to damage the already strained relations between Pyongyang and Seoul.
Kang said last weekend that it was hard to believe the North’s insistence that he was free of coronavirus a year after the outbreak began.
It is impossible to confirm North Korea’s claims, but experts say it is highly unlikely that the country has escaped the virus despite tightening its borders and banning international air travel in late January. .
Kim Yoo-jong said in a statement issued by the official KCNA news agency on Wednesday: “This can be seen from his reckless remarks. [Kang] Regardless of the consequences, he is eager to further cool the strained relationship between the North and South Korea ”
Kim, a senior official of the ruling Workers’ Party, described by some as the de facto second-in-command of the state, added: “His real intentions are clear. We will never forget his words and he may have to pay a heavy price for it. ”
Kang told a forum in Bahrain on Saturday that the epidemic “has made North Korea more of a North Korea – a more closed, very top-down decision-making process, where they have to deal with Covid-19.” There is very little debate. “
He added: “They still say they have no case, which is hard to believe. So, all indications are that the regime is too focused on controlling the disease which they say they do not have. ”
North Korea It is known to have taken drastic measures to prevent the spread and has spared the basic health. It has closed its borders with China and Russia and sent domestic diplomats. Thousands have been excluded as the country seeks to separate it from what is described as “suspicious” cases.
The collapse of trade along its border with China has hurt the weak economy in the north, which has already suffered as a result of international sanctions in response to its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
The North has acknowledged that it is facing “multiple crises” due to the epidemic, as well as an increase in natural disasters last summer and US-led sanctions.
Last week, the KCNA said the country had implemented “top-class emergency measures” in Pyongyang, including closing restaurants and other public places and restricting movement of people around the capital.
Relations between the two Koreas have soured this year after a series of incidents along their heavily armed border.
In June, the North Blown up a liaison office It has been set up to improve communication with the South so that defectors’ plans to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border can be fulfilled.
South Korea’s intelligence agency claimed last month Unsuccessful attempts To thwart efforts by North Korean hackers to develop the Covid-19 vaccine.