SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has discovered “faults” in its anti-epidemic measures, its state news media reported on Wednesday, days...
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has discovered “faults” in its anti-epidemic measures, its state news media reported on Wednesday, days after the country apologized for killing a South Korean official found adrift near the disputed western sea border with South Korea.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, convened the politburo of his ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday to review its fight against the coronavirus. In its report on the meeting, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency did not mention the killing of the South Korean official, but said that the North’s officials had discussed some faults in the country’s antivirus efforts, such as “self-complacency, carelessness, irresponsibility and slackness.”
This is not the first time that North Korea has admitted to falling short in its antivirus campaign. In late August, Mr. Kim convened the party’s politburo and its Executive Policy Council to discuss “shortcomings” and “defects” in its battle against Covid-19.
Both the United States military and South Korean officials said that North Korea had given its soldiers “shoot to kill” orders to prevent smugglers and others illegally crossing its borders in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The South’s National Intelligence Agency told lawmakers that the North issued such orders in August.
On Sept. 21, an official from a South Korean government ship monitoring fishing near the disputed western sea border went missing. He was found adrift in North Korean waters a day later and shot and killed by the crew on a North Korean patrol ship that considered him an “illegal intruder,” according to a message North Korea sent to the South on Friday.
South Korea accused the North of killing its official despite his expressing a desire to defect and burning his body for fear of Covid-19. But the North said the official did not express any such intentions. It said that it had burned only his flotation device and that his body had been lost at sea.