July 04, 2022 12:58
North Korea has blamed the coronavirus pandemic there on contaminated leaflets sent by defectors from South Korea.
The official Rodong Sinmun last Friday claimed that North Korea's first outbreak started in the border region of Ipo-ri in Kangwon Province, where local residents and soldiers who tested positive had touched "alien things" "in a mountain in early April.
It warned people to keep an eye out for "alien things carried by balloons," such as those sent by South Korean activists on a southerly wind.
But even if the allegation was plausible, activist Park Sang-hak here denied his group sent any leaflets in April. The North first admitted the pandemic in May.
"We weren't able to fly leaflets in early April because the wind was in the wrong direction," Park said. Unification Ministry spokesman Cha Deok-cheol also took the bait, saying, "There's no possibility of COVID entering the North via contaminated leaflets sent from the South."
The virus can survive in the open air for about three hours.
The likeliest explanation for the surge is massive superspreader events in April. Millions of people were mobilized to various events such as mass rallies, military parades and other events held to mark the 110th birthday of regime founder Kim Il-sung on April 15 and the army anniversary on April 25.
Participants wore no face masks at any of those events.
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