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N. Korean defector suspected to have COVID-19 crosses border again

N. Korean defector suspected to have COVID-19 crosses border again

Posted July. 27, 2020 07:52,   

Updated July. 27, 2020 07:52


North Korea declared that it sealed off Kaesong after a North Korean defector who is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 crossed the border again. It is the first time that the North publicly announced that there is a COVID-19 case within the country. The South Korean military is investigating the case based on the announcement. It is projected to trigger controversy as the case represents a loophole in the quarantine and military system.

“There was an emergency in Kaesong 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 to our nation on July 19 after illegally crossing the military demarcation line,” reported the Korean Central News Agency on Sunday. The KCNA also said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency Political Bureau meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee to declare a state of emergency in Kaesong sealed off from Friday and issue a top-class alert, which puts the state emergency anti-epidemic system at the maximum level.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that the military was closely coordinating with relevant organizations by allocating staff to examine the case. The South Korean military is looking into details of the case, believing that a person surnamed Kim who crossed the demarcation line in 2017 to the South, recently did a preliminary survey in Gimpo, Ganghwa and Gyodong Island. There is a high chance that he swam across the Han River estuary. The KCNA said the North sternly pointed out the issue of loose guard situation in the frontline area and the Central Military Commission decided to mete out severe punishment to those responsible when it gets the result of an intensive investigation on the case.

Ji-Sun Choi aurinko@donga.com · Kyu-Jin Shin newjin@donga.com