August 12, 2022 09:49
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's sister Yo-jong has accused South Korea of spreading coronavirus across the tightly sealed border and threatened a "strong retaliatory response," state media reported Thursday.
Kim Yo-jong told officials in a meeting that the COVID outbreak North Korea has experienced was triggered by attempts to "annihilate" the North by its enemies.
The outburst suggests the North Korean regime is desperate to find a scapegoat not only for the health crisis in a country without even basic medical facilities but also its economic crisis triggered by the total border lockdown and international sanctions.
In South Korea, a Unification Ministry official expressed "strong regret over North Korea's insulting and threatening remarks based on repeated groundless claims."
North Korea's current surge of infections has been widely blamed on organized mass rallies in April and the resumption of cargo train services to and from China. But Kim Yo-jong blamed "leaflets, bank notes, awful booklets and things" from the South for causing the outbreak.
Kim Jong-un also addressed the meeting, but he made no reference to his sister's remarks and instead declared victory in the battle against the outbreak, ordering officials to lower "maximum anti-epidemic measures" to normal levels. He claimed the country reported only 74 COVID-related deaths since its first case was found in May, hailing the fantasy figure as an "unprecedented miracle" compared with other countries.
The announcement came three months after the North locked down cities to prevent the spread.
Kim has often used his sister as an attack dog while remaining aloof from the rhetorical scrum.
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