North Korea shoring up loyalty in face of Covid-19 pandemic: Analysts – News Vibe24

    North Korea shoring up loyalty in face of Covid-19 pandemic: Analysts - Times of India
    SEOUL: Behind the self-imposed corona virus roadblock, North Korea is more isolated than ever and authorities are strengthening faith in the regime amid desperate times, analysts say.
    The impoverished country – which is subject to many international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs – has long struggled to feed itself, suffering from chronic food shortages.
    The North was the first country to impose a severe blockade when it sealed its borders in January last year to stop the virus from spreading to neighboring China, where it first appeared before sweeping the world.
    Pyongyang insists it has not yet detected outbreaks – a claim disputed by analysts – but has paid a huge financial price for the blockade, with leader Kim Jong Un acknowledging his people’s plight and warning them to step down. worse situation “.
    Trade with China, the economic life line of the North, has sunk.
    While the door has opened a crack in recent months – with Chinese Customs data showing that the North imported $ 29 million worth of goods in April, more than doubled in March – it remains in a fraction of pre-Covid levels.
    “Pyongyang was in dire straits long before the pandemic,” said Som Kim, a former CIA analyst now with the RAND Corporation.
    “The Koran pandemic poses existing systemic, institutional and economic challenges.”
    All UN international staff and foreign aid workers have been severely restricted.
    Several UN relief groups have confirmed to AFP that the document on needs and priorities – a key report summarizing the humanitarian situation in the country and the basis of United Nations calls – will not be published this year.
    The coordinated decision was made “in the absence of on-site assessment and monitoring due to traffic restrictions associated with Covid-19,” said Edwin Salvador, a spokesman for the World Health Organization in Pyongyang.
    The effects of the pandemic “likely worsened” the humanitarian situation in the north, with some 10.6 million people in need, said a spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
    The World Food Program, which has by far the largest international aid presence in the country, warned that it could shut down this year due to a lack of food imports.
    In a rare admission of misery, Kim in April called on his officials to “carry out another, more difficult ‘tough March’ to relieve our people of even a little trouble.”
    “Arduous March” is a North Korean term for the famine of the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of people when the fall of the Soviet Union left it without critical support.
    The illusion was intended to motivate people to “push adversity” and work for the “survival of the nation,” said Gianluca Spezza, a fellow researcher at the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm.
    “If the history of North Korea has taught us anything, it is that the peculiar nature of North Korean nationalism makes the DPRK ‘thrive’ (physically, of course) during the most difficult times,” he added, using the initials of the official name. the North .
    In recent months, Kim has issued a series of lengthy letters to regime organizations such as the Youth Union and the trade union federation congratulating them on carrying the “stick of faith and patriotism,” according to the KCNA news agency.
    State media have also made twelve reports since March pointing to hundreds of young people – sometimes orphaned – “voluntarily” taking on manual labor for the state, returning to a style of propaganda from years gone by.
    “The young people who are volunteering to work in the mines are definitely Pyongyang, confirming its identity to the wider world – even if outsiders see these as systematic human rights violations,” said Michael Madden, a fellow at the Center. Στίμον.
    Kim also seeks to eradicate “criminal” young people infected with foreign influences that are “dangerous poisons” in state ideology amid reports of North Korean teenagers enjoying television shows, movies and music in the South.
    In his letter to the Youth, the leader dismissed “words and deeds, hairstyles and clothing of young people” and said that a nationwide “large-scale cleaning operation” was under way.
    Pyongyang was looking to identify the younger generation, who experienced a tough March only as children, Madden said.
    “It adjusts their expectations for their material and cultural life in the DRC” and “aligns them closer to the Party, to the regime and is less dependent on things like markets and South Korean television.”
    At the same time, analysts say, the virus allows Pyongyang to deny responsibility for its financial woes.
    Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies said: “The North Korean authorities can blame the virus for all the problems that existed long before it appeared.”


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