It Was Never Funny To Begin With: North Korea and COVID-19

Did you hear the “joke” about North Korea and COVID-19?

NK: North Korea does not have COVID-19!

UN: How do you know?  Are you testing?

NK: Yes, we are testing.

{Person tests positive, *click*, *BLAM!*}

The “joke” has become the nightmarish reality.  The government is so paranoid about the disease getting in, they’re willing to let tens of thousands starve to death.  They are building death camps and publicly executing people.  From NPR in November:

North Korea Executed Coronavirus Rule-Breaker, Says South Korean Intelligence

North Korea is taking increasingly harsh measures to stop the coronavirus from entering the country, including executing an official in August who violated anti-virus rules, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers on Friday.

In a closed-door briefing to a parliamentary intelligence committee on Friday, the officials told lawmakers that the executed North Korean had brought goods through customs in the city of Sinuiju on North Korea’s border with China, in violation of coronavirus-related quarantine measures.

North Korea also has locked down the capital, Pyongyang, and prohibited fishing and salt production in the ocean as part of its restrictions to block COVID-19, lawmakers cited the intelligence officials as saying.

Lawmaker Ha Tae-keung, who is on the intelligence committee, told reporters after the briefing that North Korea has refused to take delivery of 110,000 tons of rice promised by China. The rice is sitting in northeastern China’s port of Dalian, he said, because North Korea fears the coronavirus could enter the country with the shipment.

Now this one from December 29.  Normally I would never trust anything from The Sun UK, but this might be the exception:

North Korea opens cruel prison camps for ‘special criminals’ who flout Covid rule working them until they collapse

NORTH KOREA has reportedly opened new prison camps for those breaching coronavirus rules with some dying just “a day after entering” their gates.

It’s claimed multiple detainees dropped dead as a direct result of the extreme “cruelty” dished out by the brutal guards running the highly-secure compounds.

Any cruelty you can imagine likely goes on.  The cold would be the least of their suffering, and death would probably be a gentle alternative.



  1. jrkrideau says

    While I would not put either act, execution or camp, beyond NK, I am reminded of the various officials (and one girlfriend?) whom Kim has had killed and who, miraculously’, rise from the dead a few months later.

  2. blf says

    Somewhat related, North Korea says South may ‘pay dearly’ for doubting its claim to be Covid-free (10-Dec-2020):

    [… South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha] said last weekend that it was hard to believe the North’s insistence that it was free of the coronavirus a year after the outbreak began.

    It is impossible to verify North Korea’s claims, but experts have said it is highly unlikely that the country has escaped the virus, despite tightening its borders and banning international air travel in late January.


    Kang told a forum in Bahrain on Saturday that the pandemic had “made North Korea more North Korea — that is, more closed, very top-down decision-making process where there is very little debate on their measures in dealing with Covid-19”.

    She added: “They still say they do not have any cases, which is hard to believe. So, all signs are the regime is very intensely focused on controlling the disease that they say they do not have.”

    North Korea is known to have taken drastic measures to prevent an outbreak and spare its fragile health infrastructure. It has closed its borders with China and Russia and sent home diplomats. Tens of thousands of people have been quarantined as the country attempts to isolate what it has described as “suspected” cases.

    Plummeting trade via its border with China has damaged the North’s fragile economy […]

    The North has admitted it is facing “multiple crises” due to the pandemic, as well as a spate of natural disasters last summer, and US-led sanctions.

    Last week, [the official N.Korean news agency] KCNA said the country had imposed “top-class emergency measures” in Pyongyang, including the closure of restaurants and other public places, and restrictions on people’s movements around the capital.


    South Korean intelligence agency claimed last month it had foiled attempts by North Korean hackers to disrupt attempts to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.

    I’d redacted the N.Korean response to Foreign Minister Kang’s comments, as they are the usual information-free bellicose delusional ranting.