Pictures released by the North Korean state media showed soldiers wearing bright red hazmat suits and gas masks during a military parade. This development comes amidst a rising economic crisis in North Korea as COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the country.
North Korea is currently suffering massive food shortage and a rampant economic crisis because of the Chinese virus pandemic.
The fact that North Korea had a contingent marching in hazmat suits and gas masks could be an indication that despite the country being tight-lipped about its COVID-19 condition, has created a special task force to deal with the pandemic unleashed by China, reported BBC.
Reportedly, these military parades are more of a signal to the local population. North Korea has no democracy and the regime in the country often holds these parades to keep their population’s faith in the dictatorship alive.
According to the BBC report, while North Korea has not received any vaccination jabs and has regularly claimed that the COVID situation in the country is under control, this parade could be a signal to their population that the state is trying to battle the pandemic. It is also reported that three such military parades have been held over the span of 12 months, which is one too many even for North Korea. However, despite the spread of the pandemic, Kim Jong Un could have thought that signalling to his mask-less people amidst a pandemic is far more important than their safety.
China, North Korea and the COVID pandemic
North Korea is heavily dependent on China for food and other economic activity. As such, with most of the world boycotting the North Korean dictatorship, China is the only and staunchest ally left of the country. However, after Korea shut its borders for China after the start of the pandemic, the Korean nation has faced severe shortfall and economic crisis. Recently, it is reported that N Korea rejected millions of jabs of the Chinese vaccine against the Chinese virus.
Recently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), which procures and delivers vaccines on behalf of the COVAX distribution program, said North Korea proposed its allotment of about 3 million Sinovac shots be sent to severely affected nations instead. According to Unicef, North Korea’s health ministry has said it would continue to communicate with COVAX over future vaccines. This was a part of North Korea denying the COVID spread in the country while holding military parades with hazmat suits and gas masks to signal to its own people.
In fact, only recently Kim Jong Un had declared stricter restrictions in the face of the pandemic.
“Officials must bear in mind that tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance which must not be loosened even a moment,” Kim said during a politburo meeting on Thursday, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday.
Even though the food crisis in the nation and the economic crisis is worsening, North Korea has announced that the borders with China will remain shut in the face of the pandemic and that the people of North Korea should brace themselves for a prolonged fight.