North Korea’s dictator was ‘seriously ill,’ his sister says, as she blames South Korea for COVID-19

In a striking speech to thousands of North Koreans, leader Kim Jong-un’s sister said he had a fever as he led the country to victory over the coronavirus. She blamed rival South Korea for the outbreak and vowed “lethal” retaliation.

Kim Yo Jong, a powerful official responsible for inter-Korean relations, glorified her brother’s leadership during the outbreak in her speech Wednesday at a national rally where he applauded the country’s widely controversial success over the virus as a “Amazing Miracle” in Global Health.

“Although he was seriously ill with a high fever, he couldn’t lie down for a moment thinking about the people he’d had.
to care until the end in the face of the anti-epidemic war,” she said in comments broadcast on the North Korean state
television.

Kim Yo Jong called the virus outbreak in the country a “hysterical farce” started by South Korea to escalate the confrontation.

“[South Korean] puppets are still pushing pamphlets and dirty objects into our territory. We have to act hard against it,” she said. “We have already considered several counteraction plans, but our countermeasure must be a deadly retaliatory measure.”

North Korean state television showed some people in the crowd of thousands crying as she talked about her brother’s fever – a reference that was not explained further. The crowd applauded and cheered as she vowed that North Korea “will not only eradicate the virus, but also” [South Korean] government agencies” as the “enemies continue to engage in dangerous acts that could introduce the virus into our republic”.

While Kim Yo Jong’s profile has grown in recent years, Thursday appeared to be the first time North Korean media outlets have broadcast the full video and audio of one of her speeches, the South Korean Unification Ministry said.

‘Great Miracle’: Victory Declared Over COVID-19

North Korea first suggested in July that the COVID-19 outbreak started with people coming into contact with objects carried by balloons launched from South Korea — a dubious claim that appeared to be an attempt to blame its rival to give.

The South Korean Unification Ministry, which manages inter-Korean affairs, expressed deep regret at North Korea’s “extremely disrespectful and threatening remarks” based on “ridiculous claims”.

Korea’s official central news agency of the north said on Thursday that Kim Jong-un has declared victory over COVID-19 and ordered an easing of preventive measures, just three months after the country first acknowledged an outbreak.

Since acknowledging the coronavirus outbreak in May, North Korea has reported about 4.8 million “fever cases” in its population of 26 million, but identified only a fraction of those as COVID-19. The country, which is unlikely to have test kits and other public health tools, has claimed that the outbreak has been slowing for weeks and that only 74 people have died.

“For a country that has yet to administer a single vaccination, our success in overcoming the spread of the disease in such a short time and restoring public health security and returning our country to a clean virus-free zone make an astonishing miracle that would be recorded in world public health history,” KCNA quoted him as saying.

VIEW | North Korea keeps COVID-19 toll under control:

North Korea refuses help to fight COVID-19 outbreak

There is looming fear of a COVID-19 disaster in North Korea as officials turn down offers of vaccines and aid from other countries. The rise in cases is partly attributed to a series of national celebrations in April where huge unvaccinated crowds gathered and likely spread the virus.

Several weeks since the last missile test

If Kim declares victory against the coronavirus, it suggests he wants to move to other priorities, such as boosting the country’s fractured and heavily sanctioned economy, which has been further damaged by pandemic border closures, or conducting a nuclear test, it said. Leif Eric Easyy. , a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

South Korean and US officials have said North Korea could prepare for its first nuclear test in five years amid a scorching series of weapons tests this year, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile launches since 2017, with the final missile test beginning. June .

Kim Yo Jong’s bellicose rhetoric indicates she will try to blame South Korea for any resurgence of COVID-19 and also justify North Korea’s next military provocation, Easley said.

North Korea’s claim as to the origin of the outbreak contradicts outside experts, who believe the Omicron variant spread when the country briefly reopened its border with China to freight traffic in January, and rose further after a military parade and other large-scale events in Pyongyang, its capital, in April.

In May, Kim Jong-un banned travel between cities and provinces to slow the spread of the virus.

During the virus meeting, he called for the relaxation of preventive measures and for the maintenance of vigilance and effective border controls, citing the global spread of novel coronavirus variants and monkey pox.

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