By Umar Farooq
At a time when the World is suffering from deadly pandemic of COVID-19 there’s a country on globe who isn’t sharing figures of patients or death toll with rest of the World and that is none other than North Korea. However, since the outbreak of corona virus North Korea claimed there’s not a single case in the country but interestingly North Korea had reached out to international organizations such as UNICEF and IFRC for diagnostic kits and protective gears. It also made a request to Russia for help and Moscow sent 1,500 diagnostic kits to Pyongyang. North Korea closed off all of its borders in late January in an effort to shut off all official and unofficial trade with it’s biggest trading partner China.
In absentia of what is happening in Kim’s dynasty, there are speculations that North Korea could partly be effective in containing the virus spread as the leadership has already great control over the movement of it’s people even during the normal days.
General Robert Bruce Abrams, top US general in South Korea who is commander of United States Forces in Korea had also said that he is “fairly certain” North Korea has corona virus cases.
Even during this stressful times President Kim Jong Un regime tested latest short range projectiles in March 2020 which made the country’s fourth weapons test just during the same month.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry urged North Korea to immediately stop it’s very inappropriate military demonstrations when the World is struggling to cope with the new corona virus pandemic as the ballistic missiles experiments create security panic in the region.
North Korean missile experiments are considered as a serious threat by United States and South Korean military alliance. For thwarting any possible attack from Kim John command, US has already installed THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense & Opposition) system which it claims has the ability to restrict any ballistic missile attack. Currently, more than 20,000 US troops are present on South Korean soil to protect the World’s eleventh largest economy and for this US is spending around 10 billion dollars annually. In addition to this South Korea is the tenth country in World’s ranking which is spending on it’s defense budget due to a hostile neighbourhood.
Despite the United Nations sanctions on North Korea which has shattered it’s economy, authorities still believe work on it’s nuclear missile program continues and the government is involved in illicit activities like ship to ship illegal transfers of it’s export goods but it is hard to get the evidence and prove the state’s involvement as it is allegedly being conducted by the private contractors hired for such activities. The other concern for South Koreans are the cybercrime attacks at their private banks which are considered to be conducted by North Korean hackers with state’s help to generate money.
The stake holders are also concerned about the quality of life North Koreans are leading as they don’t have the internet access, disallowed to make any international calls, can only watch television for a specific period of time with the available content approved by the government and above all the strict punishments on different crimes are considered as human rights violations by the international community. In this knot created lifestyle defectors try to escape in search for a new and better life and do this through sea route and also from adjoining border of China but in some cases defectors have been sent back to North Korea by Chinese authorities as part of their bilateral relations.
Executive Director of Committee for Human Rights in North Korea Greg Scarlatoiu, an Amercian Think Tank who watches North Korean affairs in a thoughtful way is of the opinion that since 1960 North Korea is not sharing any of it’s data with international community and it’s people are leading miserable live. US has made out some sincere efforts in terms of dialogue with President Kim Jong Un and his administration to convince them for denuclearisation and the efforts continue till date. Pak Destiny