Gov't Offers to Help N.Korea with Coronavirus

      February 04, 2020 12:27

      The government has mooted helping North Korea with efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus even though the North has shut its borders and replied to no overtures from South Korea for months.

      "The government's position is that there's a need for inter-Korean quarantine cooperation," Unification Ministry spokesman Yeo Sang-ki told reporters Monday. "We're going to find out the best time to discuss it with the North depending on the situation on each side."

      North Kora insists no patients there have tested positive for coronavirus and has not asked the South for help. But there are suspicions that at least some patients have come down with symptoms since state media have been broadcasting warnings every day.

      When African swine fever broke out in the crackpot country last year, it snubbed all South Korean offer to help.

      North Koreans wear masks in this photo from the North's official Rodong Sinmun daily on Monday. /Yonhap

      The North's health system is woefully inadequate and it may lack the equipment to test for coronavirus.

      "We need to watch the situation," another ministry official said. "The government thinks it should deliver medical supplies to the North if it accepts our offer."

      The North Korean regime has even asked Beijing to suspend the deportation of North Korean defectors.

      "I've heard that the North is rejecting defectors from China," said Kim Seung-eun, a pastor at Seoul's Caleb Mission helping defectors. "China has stopped sending defectors back to the North at Pyongyang's request for fear of coronavirus infections."

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