Fewer North Koreans escape the country due to COVID-19

July 6, 2020 by Robert Kenna in Stories of Persecution

The coronavirus pandemic has made it even more difficult than usual for North Koreans to escape the country, with borders officially closed and increased security, making it harder than ever to cross the border illegally.

The Ministry of Unification in South Korea have said that only 12 North Korean escapees had managed to arrive in Seoul from April to June this year—seven in April, two in May, and three in June. During these three months last year, 320 North Koreans made it to South Korea.

‘The numbers of North Korean defectors who entered South Korea during the second quarter of this year was the lowest ever,’ a spokesperson for the Ministry of Unification has said.

On top of the challenges of leaving North Korea, the journey from China through another Southeast Asian country to South Korea—which could take them through Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, or Mongolia—will have also been more difficult than usual due to the pandemic, with travel restrictions and lockdowns in many of these nations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported North Korea has quarantined a total of 25,551 people over the past few months. Meanwhile, North Korea claims that they have not had a single case of the virus in the country.

However, the number of people quarantined reveals the likelihood of a great fight against the virus. In fact, when Kim Jong-un disappeared from the pubic for a few weeks earlier this year, he could’ve been in quarantine. Several non-state sources, including the Daily NK news site run by North Korean escapees, claimed that several deaths, including 180 soldiers and 11 prisoners at the Chongori concentration camp, were almost certainly caused by COVID-19.

While North Korean schools and universities had been closed, they reopened in early June. People must wear masks in public places, and no public gatherings are permitted. The country is continuing to use temperature checks, hand-washing and strict social distancing to help prevent infection. Sanitizers are available in public places such as shopping centers, restaurants and hotels. The borders remain closed, and any goods and medical supplies that enter the country are held for ten days.

Supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies from both the WHO and China have been shipped to North Korea. Additional supplies are also being sent from Dubai. The North Korean government seems to understand the current situation means that they need international aid more than ever.

  • Please continue to pray for the North Korean regime, that they will make the right decisions to help the millions of people suffering in their nation.
  • Pray that God will open their hearts to see the truth of Jesus and His love.
  • Pray that God will provide for the people of North Korea, heal those who may be infected, and protect those who have not.
  • Ask God to strengthen our brothers and sisters to be salt and light in their communities in this challenging time.

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