On Thursday, the North Korean news agency said Mr Kim called for national unity in a time of emergency and told his people that unscientific fear, lack of faith and weak will is a “more dangerous enemy of ours than the evil virus. †

He urged his country to go ahead with the bold five-year economic development plan he unveiled at a Workers’ Party congress last January. Under that plan, North Koreans are building residential areas in the capital and greenhouse complexes in provinces.

For Pyongyang to publicly admit to having Covid-19 cases, the public health situation had to have been serious, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international relations at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“The deteriorating coronavirus situation is a serious challenge for Kim Jong-un, not just in terms of limiting infections, deaths and food disruptions,” said Mr Easley. Kim has credited strict social controls and self-imposed international isolation to protect North Korea from Covid. If those signing measures fail, it could be a blow to the legitimacy of the regime.”

The epidemic control measures North Korea enforced on Thursday could further restrict the movement of people and goods between cities and factories and disrupt supply and production, Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, said in a statement. south. Korea.

If North Korea fails to bring the outbreak under control, “it could face a serious food crisis and the kind of major confusion we’ve seen in China recently,” Mr Cheong said, referring to the serious problems being caused by the draconian restrictions imposed by China. has imposed on major cities like Shanghai in recent weeks.

Analysts questioned whether the Covid outbreak would affect Mr Kim’s plan to resume nuclear testing. US and South Korean officials last week warned that North Korea could resume such tests this month, possibly around the time President Biden is scheduled to meet South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul. . 21st of May.

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