North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was reported to have executed at least two people, banned fishing at sea, and closed the capital, Pyongyang, as part of frantic efforts to protect against the coronavirus and economic damage.
The Pyongyang government has ordered diplomats abroad to refrain from any actions that could provoke the United States because it is concerned about President-elect Joe Biden’s possible new approach to North Korea.
One lawmaker, Ha Tae Kyung, quoted the National Intelligence Agency as saying that Kim was showing “excessive anger” and taking “irrational measures” about the epidemic and its economic impact. Ha, Tae-Kyung said the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that North Korea executed a prominent cashier in Pyongyang last month after holding the person responsible for the exchange rate drop. The National Intelligence Agency was quoted as saying that North Korea also executed a senior official in August for violating government regulations restricting goods brought in from abroad. The two individuals have not been identified.
North Korea has banned fishing and the production of salt at sea to prevent seawater from contracting the virus, the National Intelligence Agency told lawmakers. North Korea also recently placed Pyongyang and North Gangang Province under lockdown due to virus fears. And earlier this month, lockdown measures were imposed in other areas as officials found that unauthorized goods had been brought in, according to the National Intelligence Service.
The agency said that North Korea has also made a failed hacking attempt on at least one South Korean pharmaceutical company that was trying to develop a vaccine for the Coronavirus.
North Korea has confirmed that it has not found a single case of the virus on its soil, and is making great efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. An outbreak could have dire consequences as the country’s healthcare system remains fragile and suffers from a chronic shortage of medical supplies.
The epidemic forced North Korea to close its border with China, its largest trading partner, and aid donor, in June. The closure, along with a series of natural disasters during the summer, dealt a heavy blow to the North Korean economy, which was subject to US-led sanctions. North Korea’s trade with China in the first ten months of this year reached $ 530 million, and the prices of sugar and spices rose steadily.
North Korean watchdog groups in Seoul said the North Korean won’s exchange rate against the dollar had recently decreased dramatically because people found few places to use foreign currencies after smuggling was largely cut off following the border closure with China.
According to the National Intelligence Agency, North Korea has ordered diplomatic missions abroad not to provoke the United States, warning its ambassadors of the consequences of their comments or actions related to the United States to cause any problems in relations with Washington.
The North Korean government remains silent about Biden’s election victory over President Donald Trump, with whom Kim Jong Un held three unprecedented summits in 2018-2019 on the future of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. While diplomacy eventually stalled, the meetings continued to help Kim and Trump build personal relationships and end the insults and threats of destruction they had previously exchanged.
Representative Kim Byung-ki cited, saying that North Korea is showing concern that its friendly relations with Trump have become useless, and it has to start from scratch in dealing with the upcoming Biden administration.
Experts are debating whether North Korea will soon resume a large missile test in an attempt to gain Biden’s attention. During previous government changes in the United States, North Korea often launched significant weapons to increase its influence in future negotiations with a new U.S. administration.