as China and many other countries and
territories around the world continue to report more confirmed cases of the
corona virus infections every day once data has not reported of any case is
North Korea the array isolated regime was quick to seal its borders to prevent
the spread of the new corona virus though in the last week or so North
Korea stepped up coronavirus prevention measures and declared a state emergency the non-permanent central public health
guidance committee has declared that the hygienic and anti epidemic system will
be switched to a state of emergency anti epidemic system until the danger of the
corona virus infection disappears it has informed emergency quarantine centers in
the central city and provinces so how does a regime like North Korea deal with
an epidemic like the corona virus is there health or medical infrastructure
in North Korea how will the current virus outbreak in China threaten North
Korea’s lifeline questions to be answered on our news in-depth tonight
with dr. burrows eligor Resident Representative of Hong’s Idol foundation
he’s a frequent visitor to North Korea and dr. Christian Chuck’s head of
Friedrich Naumann foundation Korea gentlemen welcome to the program thank
you for him is now the death toll and number of people infected by the novel
coronavirus continues to grow with no signs of slowing despite the severe
quarantine measures and population control methods put in place by China
the number of confirmed cases globally stands north of 28,000 most of them in
China death toll has topped 560 the number of confirmed cases in South Korea
is already in double digits now earlier this week North Korea however announced
it was free of coronavirus and we haven’t heard from them as of yet what
are your thoughts or not well what North Korea said is they had not yet been
reported an outbreak and that could be really likely because I started very
early to impose quarantine measures however from what I heard from contacts
in North Korea there seems to be a lack of
possibilities to measure the outbreak so it might well be that the Hmong those
people who are current in now an outbreak would either now or later
hadn’t and it’s not very clear if that can be tested sufficiently by the North
Korean authorities so what you’re saying is that there may be cases it’s just
that they do not have a test kit for example well they have test kits but for
the test kits they need certain reagents and there seems to be a lack it’s
difficult to source now in China because China needs obviously all the things to
protect themselves that the con also is true for personal protective kits so for
the gloves and the masks and everything so it’s very very difficult to get and
there seems to be a lack of these equipment Christian would you agree that
yeah well definitely I would agree with that
what we see in North Korea is I think a health system which cannot be compared
with the one in the south or with the health system in Germany so therefore
what they are doing is prevention because when it comes to an epidemic it
will be at the catastrophe I think we have to face that and therefore these
are all prevent preventive measures and I think the government is quite well
advised to be aware and to raise awareness actually we don’t know any
figures so far but what I think is that they just take all measures to avoid
worse things to come right right and and you two gentlemen were correct to point
out that North Korea was in fact one of the very first to seal its borders with
China and Russia when this current of virus outbreak happened in China it’s
also stopped airline flights and trade services with its neighbors established
weeks long mandatory quarantines for recently arrived foreigners suspended
international tourism and impose a near-complete lockdown on cross-border
travel and North Korea to make secret of the super time measures which
is quite unusual for the Kim jong-un regime which rarely publicizes it’s a
whatever response measures to whichever epidemic how do you analyze this I mean
why are they publicizing this well I think there’s now some experience from
the past there was especially the case of Ebola crisis but also mayors and SARS
before and I think they learned from that they relatively closely coordinated
with wh0 in the country which is a good sign and they certainly want to avoid to
have troubles through sequence secrecy here and so I think it’s a kind of
learning process which start up there and which shows up saccharine measures
are probably done with a little more knowledge in the background than in the
past well I burn Argan Pyongyang tightness
quarantine measures in response to to this and its state-run media described
this as a matter of national survival even based on your experience in North
Korea and your visits to North Korea what is your assessment of North Korea’s
a health or medical infrastructure how do you think they’re coping with a
system right now I think they have a very tight border control system not
necessarily for medical reasons but for other reasons for political reasons and
for economic reasons and in the border they are quite able to control the
inflow and outflow of people once the people are in the country it gets much
more difficult especially if they’re in the countryside where often even basic
medical infrastructure is missing so they are probably well advised to have
these control measures as early as possible that is with the entry of
people as often in North Korea not all the measures might be exactly on point
many foreigners now complains that they’re basically under house arrest
because they are not able anymore to go shopping even go to restaurants etc
which includes w8o representatives which might not be the best to do but at least
as I try to do something there to prevent the
spread of the virus oh is that right whe representatives in North Korea they are
the same there and they’re the same restrictions like everybody else so they
should stay in their homes or offices and should not go out to any public
place that’s very interesting no Christian how did North Korea handle
infectious diseases outbreaks in the past for instance the SARS outbreak of
2002 and 2003 the MERS from 2012 through 2015
how have they deal dealt with it well I I don’t have any exact figures about
that and maybe Bernard can add on that a little bit later but what we already
said was that obviously Korea North Korea has undergone a learning process
so we have to see it from there what would they are doing today is not an
isolated thing it’s not the first time of a break out of of these dimensions
what we see is they have collected their experiences they know what they have
they know which kind of health care system they have and they have to work
with what they have so I don’t have any exact data of the other Ebola and SARS
and whatever when it comes to North Korea
do you know a bollock crisis was really a problem in that for a long period for
half a year basically the whole country was shut down the country of 25 million
people if you think of that it was very serious and it was in the end
nonsensical but it seemed to have been that time through the rules how they
adopted quarantine measures very difficult to remove now this is from
what I heard from North Korea in the moment not the case they have a
relatively moderate period of quarantine now it seems to be let for the beginning
they have a quarantine for the foreigners in the country until the 15th
of February and it might be extended through certain circumstances we have
this to 30 days the people who are coming
into the country should be in quarantine but nobody for the moment expects that
it will take another half year so and it would take considerable toll on the
economy of the country especially now you mentioned tourism in the beginning
which has been shut down which is one of the most important strategies for the
country to grow so if that would be prolonged certainly we would see what we
see now already increasing prices and we would see more of economic damage done
right right I mean Berta I mentioned Christian North Korean leader Kim
jong-un’s decision to to shut down his borders with China and and the lockdown
of Chinese cities who will have a huge blow on the North Korean economy and of
course Kim jong-un’s efforts to make good on his promise to jumpstart North
Korea’s economy I believe absolutely and what we also must not forget is that the
borders also have closed have been closed for any kind of trade so many
goods which are needed it cannot come into the country through China we all
know that of course there were the channels to bring goods into China but
this even this is now blocked this is one thing and Burnett was talking about
the hard currency issue when it comes to tourism and we just saw last month the
opening of the u city of the new tourist site as just six weeks ago and all that
was meant also as means for getting hard currency into the development of the
country and all that is cut now I think this is really a very very hard
development for the country and its economy absolutely how dependent Bernard
on China is the North Korean economy right now and and shit the coronavirus
out but persist in China for the next couple of months what will that mean for
North Korea well the bet fact is the good news
North Korea is not very dependent on trade because it’s one of the most
isolated stateless and that’s also true in terms of trade
dependency and sanctions already took away large part of trade but it is
dependent on certain imports some are crucial for the country like let’s say
oil others are very important and we have also seen in the last year’s
considerable imports of foodstuff so all of this if it doesn’t happen will have
an impact on the country less on those people who are maybe the least fortunate
loss living in the rural areas who live closer to a subsistence economy who
rather sauce most of the things themselves but especially for the middle
class for those people on which also basically the country or the regime if
you want so bases its loyalty so they will be hard hit if there are no more
imports and the longer it takes the more hard to eat meanwhile another victim of
the kernel virus outbreak is perhaps inter-korean relations I mean due to
concerns about the spread of the kernel virus outbreak Pyongyang asshole to a
temporarily closed jointly as an office in Kaesong near the inter-korean border
now it was the only face-to-face communication channel between the two
Koreas Christian how do you see the current of ours outbreak playing a role
in inter-korean relations well of course it it plays a very important role of
course that was never so close what was done in the liaison office of course and
everybody has agreed that the telephone lines of course will will remain open I
would like to see it from another side this is a problem of the world and it’s
not a problem of one country be it isolated or not isolated because what we
see day by day is that it comes in from other countries but not only this it’s
something like environmental protection or climate change or things like this a
country cannot do by itself with that and cannot cope with it so what this
would offer an enormous opportunity just to cooperate constructively and I think
this is the real bad news when it comes – let’s say signs like this we are going
to close down the liaison office we are going to cut our regular communication
and all that and restrict it to telephone lines this is much more it has
a symbolic value and I think yeah lots of opportunities are lost right I mean
as South Korea confirmed this double digit cases of the kernel virus in the
country the government here said that he wants to help Pyongyang stem the spread
of the virus across the border as it’s necessary to like Christian said
cooperate in coping with a spread of an infectious disease do you see this
happening Bernard in an ideal world certainly South Korea and North Korea
could easily work together and South Korea has a lot of that what not North
Korea needs meet certain knowledge need certain equipment they have but as you
know the world is political and North Korea especially so they will not easily
accept it from the South I think still for a number of reasons for the reason
that it affects the same country and those compatriots in the north for the
reason that it also has direct repercussions on the south and for other
reason South Korea should try to help maybe through international channels
where it’s still possible and it should also on a mid and longer-term
perspective increase science cooperation in international frameworks where it’s
easier possible than in a bilateral framework as much as possible and give
North Koreans the opportunity to participate in meaningful international
meetings and I think much could be done there and then if there are personal
relations created between both sides they could also survive politically
difficult times sure well we definitely hope the situation settled down not only
here in the Korean Peninsula but in China and all across the globe may
thanks GU Brazil agur and Christian talks for a fruitful discussion today we
appreciate your valuable insights as all and that is our news in depth on the
ever-growing current of virus outbreak and its possible impact on the North
Korean people and the economy thank you everyone for watching same time same
place tune in right here tomorrow for more
thank you take care

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