November 04, 2020 12:23
North Korea has planted a lot of landmines along the porous Chinese border to prevent people from moving to and fro and spreading coronavirus, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in a briefing Tuesday.
In the regular update on North Korea, the NIS also reported that rumors of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's health are exaggerated and he is fit and healthy if overweight at an estimated 140 kg.
The NIS said that a document from a session of the Workers Party politburo on Feb. 27 warned of a "big disaster" if the virus spreads and some 300,000 to 500,000 people could die.
The North has no quarantine equipment to contain the virus, it added. The regime has even transported serious patients on railway handcars instead of passenger trains for fear of contagion.
It is also rejecting all offers of aid from the outside and has punished many officials for bringing in goods through customs. However, the NIS then contradicted itself and said the North imports a "considerable amount" of food from China.
Recent flooding has devastated the North. An area 18 times bigger than Seoul's Yeouido region was flooded in Komdok, which has North Korea's largest deposit of minerals, crippling the production of lead and zinc by 30 percent in August and September, and reducing crops by 200,000 tons.
The NIS also reported that Kim's sister Yo-jong spent the two months when she disappeared from public view in August and September taking charge of coronavirus quarantine and flood control.
It said Kim has gained about 50 kg over the past eight years. He weighed 90 kg around August 2012 but now weighs 140 kg.
Since the brutal murder of a South Korean official in September, the regime has reduced radio communications and changed its code system to avoid surveillance and eavesdropping by South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies.
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