The ruling Kim dynasty of North Korea has for decades predicated their regime on the notion that only they can protect the Korean people from the outside world, be that capitalists, the United States or other hostile forces.

Now, according to Pyongyang, a new threat has arrived — the first publicly reported suspected case of Covid-19 within North Korea’s borders.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened an emergency meeting Saturday after it was reported that a defector who fled the country three years ago had returned to the North Korean city of Kaesong, while possibly infected with coronavirus, according to state-run newswire KCNA.

Authorities in South Korea confirmed Monday that a defector had crossed the highly militarized border into North Korea.

The South Korean Health Ministry said the man was not a known coronavirus patient or a close contact of one, but local police said the man was being investigated for a sex crime.

KCNA said the defector had symptoms of Covid-19, but did not confirm if he had been testedClose contacts of the suspected case were being examined and quarantined, but KCNA warned of a “dangerous situation” developing in Kaesong that could lead to a “deadly and destructive disaster.

“Few experts believe that North Korea, a country of nearly 25 million people which shares a border with China, could have escaped the effects of a pandemic that has infected more than 16 million people worldwide and killed nearly 650,000

.It’s possible North Korea has simply not identified existing cases due to a lack of testing, or has successfully managed to isolate small clusters of cases and is not reporting them.

But if this defector does test positive and causes a major outbreak, Covid-19 could turn into one of the biggest threats Kim has faced in his nearly nine years of rule.


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