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North Korea’s Kim warns of ‘grave incident’ in battle against pandemic

Kim Jong Un
The intelligence assessments, released simultaneously by the US and South Korea, came as North Korean state media reported Kim Jong Un had inspected the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground. Photo KRT via Reuters.

The nature of the development was not explained, but Pyongyang has claimed to be coronavirus-free due to tight border controls


(AF) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said a “grave incident” related to the coronavirus pandemic could threaten the safety of his people and country, state media reported on Wednesday.

The Korean Central News Agency said that Kim made the remarks as he presided over an extended Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday, accusing senior officials of neglect.

“By neglecting important decisions of the party in its national emergency antivirus fight in preparations for a global health crisis, officials in charge have caused a grave incident that poses a huge crisis to the safety of the nation and its people,” Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

“A major factor that hampers the execution of important tasks is inability and irresponsibility of senior officials,” he added. “A party-wide fight should be carried out against ideological defects and all kinds of negative factors found among senior officials.”

KCNA did not elaborate on what the grave incident was, but North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free due to tight border controls and other antivirus measures since the beginning of the pandemic.

The North has recently called for “maximum vigilance” against the coronavirus amid concerns over the global spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and pandemic fatigue.

‘Negative factors’

Pointing out “chronic” inability and irresponsibly among senior officials, Kim called for a fight against “ideological defects and all kinds of negative factors” that could be found among those officials.

At Tuesday’s meeting, “organisational matters” were also discussed, including the election of new Politburo members and secretaries of the party’s Central Committee, the KCNA said, without providing details on those newly elected.

The Politburo meeting came 11 days after North Korea held a four-day plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party, the third of its kind this year.

On Tuesday, KCNA reported that technological reforms in the public health sector had improved outcomes for patients.

“The system for quality management … is IT-based with different indices objectively judging the level of medical service of a hospital,” the news agency said.

“As a result of introducing the system into different central hospitals, the outpatients’ medical service, first-aid medical service and telemedicine have been improved in quality.”



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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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