Go to contents

Defense minister: It’s difficult to predict whether N. Korea will postpone missile tests due to COVID-19

Defense minister: It’s difficult to predict whether N. Korea will postpone missile tests due to COVID-19

Posted May. 18, 2022 08:01,   

Updated May. 18, 2022 08:01


South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said on Tuesday that it is not certain whether North Korea will postpone or carry on missile tests amid COVID-19 emergency. “North Korea is ready to conduct seventh nuclear tests,” the defense minister said at the National Assembly Defense Committee meeting. He indicated that although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country was facing a “major national emergency,” showing a sense of crisis toward the spread of coronavirus, the chance that he makes political determination to pursue nuclear tests is still alive. “The spread of the coronavirus is better contained in the military, and it is reported that the military is less hit by the virus than the general public,” said Defense Minister Lee.

When asked by People Power Party lawmaker Ha Tae-gyung that whether the Yoon Suk-yeol administration is planning to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea even if it conducts nuclear tests, the defense minister answered providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea is possible, given that the Geneva Conventions states that treatment can be offered to members of the enemy forces who are wounded or sick. Then he took a step backward that there is no official government decision yet, when some of the opposition party lawmakers pointed out that President Yoon had criticized the Moon Jae-in administration’s assistance to North Korea as “squandering” of resources and asked to provide further explanation in that regard.

North Korea is making an all-out effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Rodong Sinmun reported on Tuesday that the Communist Party issued a special order that army surgeons be immediately dispatched to Pyongyang. The newspaper described medicine to be delivered to citizens of Pyongyang as “panacea of love” condensed with profound love of its leader for the people.

Three airplanes of Air Koryo, a state-run airline of North Korea, arrived at Shenyang Airport in Liaoning Province, China, collected COVID-19 related supplies and flied back to North Korea, according to sources in China.

ysh1005@donga.com · easy@donga.com