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North Korea suggests that a balloon flying from the south brought COVID-19

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Hyunjin Kim

Seoul, South Korea (AP) — North Korea began outbreaks of COVID-19 on Friday in people who came into contact with balloons flying from the south. South Korea suggests — a highly suspicious claim that seems to be an attempt to hold rivals accountable amid heightened tensions.

For years, activists have flown balloons across national borders and distributed hundreds of thousands of promotional leaflets criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. they.

According to global health authorities, the coronavirus is spread by people with close contact who inhale airborne droplets and is more closed and poorly ventilated than outdoors. It is said that it is likely to occur. The South Korean Ministry of Unification said it is unlikely that South Korean balloons have spread the virus to North Korea.

Relations between South Korea were strained in a long-term stalemate in US-led diplomacy by persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for economic and political interests. There is up to.

According to state media reports, the North Korean epidemic prevention center found an infected cluster in the town of Ifo near the southeastern border, and some Ifo residents with fever traveled to Pyongyang. did. According to the center, an 18-year-old soldier and a 5-year-old kindergarten child were in contact with the town's "aliens" in early April, after which they were tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Called an "emergency order," the Epidemic Prevention Center "carefully addresses aliens coming from wind and other climatic phenomena and balloons" along national borders. I ordered the authorities to do so. Trace those sources to the end. He also emphasized that anyone who finds "foreign things" should be notified immediately to the authorities so that they can be removed. The

report did not specify what the "alien thing" was. However, blaming those who have flown across national borders is likely a way to reiterate opposition to the surge of North Korean defectors and South Korean activists. The

leaflet campaign was largely abandoned after South Korea's former free government passed legislation criminalizing them, with no public balloon attempts in early April.

Activists on trial for past activities flew across the border in late April after suspending a balloon with a propaganda leaflet for a year. Park Sogaku floated the balloon twice in June and switched cargo to COVID-19 relief supplies such as masks and painkillers.

Police are still investigating recent leaflet activity by activists, Cha Duck Chul, deputy spokesman for the South Unification Department, told reporters Friday.

Cha also said that a consensus between South Korean health officials and World Health Organization experts was virtually impossible to infect by contact with the virus on the surface of the substance.

Jung Sung-chan, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said that North Korea is derived from leaflets, US dollars, or other substances in which the coronavirus is carried across borders by balloons. I want you to believe me.

Mr Chung said North Korea is likely to severely punish those who are secretly taking such South Korean goods. He also said North Korea could try to shoot down an incoming South Korean balloon. This will urge South Korea to bring the fire back and sharply escalate hostility between nations.

North Korea is furious with the leaflet campaign because it is designed to undermine Kim's authoritarian dominance over a population with little access to outside information. In 2014, North Korea fired on a propaganda balloon flying towards its territory, and South Korea fired, although there were no casualties.

To blame objects that flew across the North-South border was a virus after North Korea temporarily reopened its northern border with China in January to carry out freight transport. An event in Pyongyang in April that contradicts the outside view that it has spread and surged further following military parades and the like.

After maintaining the widely controversial claim that it has not been infected with the coronavirus for more than two years, North Korea on May 12th, an unspecified number in Pyongyang. People have confirmed the outbreak of COVID-19. The omicron variant was tested positive.

Since then, North Korea has reported about 4.7 million cases of fever out of a population of 26 million, but has identified only a few of them as COVID-19. The case fatality rate is very low, with 73 people dead. Both numbers are believed to be manipulated to keep North Korea vigilant against the virus and prevent political damage to Kim.


The Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.