Kim Jong-un has warned North Korean authorities to prepare for the dangers posed to the country by the coronavirus pandemic and an impending typhoon.
Mr Kim’s appearance at a party meeting follows much speculation about his state of health.
North Korea had not confirmed any cases of Covid-19 and it is believed that a major outbreak would have a devastating effect on the impoverished nation.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Bavi is expected to hit North Korea later this week.
Speaking at a politburo meeting on Tuesday, smoking a cigarette, Mr Kim said there were “some shortcomings” in the state’s efforts to prevent the “malignant virus,” media reported. ‘State, without giving details.
Pyongyang has long insisted there was no infection in the country, although this was questioned by observers. No case has been reported, but its media has not reiterated this claim for several weeks.
After a suspected case, there was a lockdown in a border town near South Korea, but the infection was never officially confirmed.
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Kim Jong-un’s appearance came amid rumors about his health and that he had delegated some of his authority to his sister Kim Yo-jong.
Speculation about the North Korean leader’s health is not unusual but has so far always been proven to be false.
As the world’s tabloids obsess over Kim Jong-un – who is clearly doing well – there are greater concerns. The state and its 25 million people are clearly not doing well.
Typhoon Bavi could wreak havoc in a country already reeling from one of the longest monsoon seasons on record. Torrential rains in August caused widespread flooding.
And now the BBC weather center is forecasting storm surges of 200-300mm of rain just weeks before the fall rice harvest.
According to the UN, ten million people suffer from food insecurity in North Korea. This means that they live from harvest to harvest. They cannot afford to damage more crops.
North Korea also switched from insisting it had no Covid-19 case to holding another high-level meeting to discuss ways to mitigate the effects of the virus.
We still don’t know if the epidemics are under control in the secret state that closed its borders to the world in January.
Last week, Mr Kim admitted that his big economic plan, which was due to come to fruition in 2020, had failed and that he had to come up with a new one. A rare admission from a North Korean leader that he has failed.
Trade with China, the country’s biggest benefactor and ally, fell more than 20% in July, according to Chinese customs data. Closing borders to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country has had an impact on the vital supply chain.
NK News also reported that foreign embassy staff and the majority of the country’s NGOs have left due to severe virus restrictions.
2020 has been a bad year for most of the world. But for North Korea, this has the potential to be devastating and there are very few organizations available in the country to notice and help.