|North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 19th Meeting of the Political Bureau of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). (File photo by=Reuters)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Kim Jong Un appears to have kicked North Korea's pandemic prevention plan into overdrive, further tightening the country's nearly impassable borders, cutting off nearly all trade with China, and even allegedly executing a customs official for failing to handle imported goods appropriately.
Beijing exported just $253,000 worth of goods to Pyongyang in October a 99% drop from September to October, according to data published by China's customs administration. China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and Kim's regime's economic lifeline. Before major UN sanctions were placed as punishment for North Korea's nuclear weapons program in 2016 and 2017, Beijing accounted for more than 90% of Pyongyang's foreign trade.
The new customs figures, if accurate, show that Kim appears willing to step back, or even cut off trade with China to prevent the virus from entering North Korea, even if it means risking the country's food and fuel supply. The move is even more extreme considering mainland China is only reporting a handful of cases each day. North Korea hasn't publicly acknowledged the drop in a trade or the reason behind it, but the pandemic is the most likely explanation. Additionally, North Korea's crumbling health care infrastructure is unlike enough in treating a large number of patients sickened with a virus that the global health care community still does not fully understand.