Leave it to North Korea to take coronavirus lockdowns to an extreme.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has executed at least two people as he imposes even more strict lockdown measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.
Kim Jong Un panics over COVID
The National Intelligence Service (NIS), the South Korean spy agency, shared the shocking report with lawmakers in South Korea, the AP reported on Thursday. One of those executed was an official who violated coronavirus-related import restrictions, and the other was a money changer who was blamed for recent exchange rate problems, according to the report.
According to the NIS, Kim has reportedly placed North Korea is under intensified lockdown orders, which include a ban on ocean fishing and salt collection — “to prevent seawater from being infected with the virus,” South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-keung told reporters.
Pyongyang, the capital city of the communist nation, has also reportedly been locked down. Ha said that the NIS described Kim as paranoid and irrational about the virus, according to the AP.
“He has been expressing emotional excess, anger and signs of stress, and increasingly giving unreasonable orders” regarding the coronavirus, Ha said.
On Friday, reports emerged that North Korean hackers have recently targeted AstraZeneca, a British vaccine maker that is currently working on a COVID-19 vaccine. The hackers “are not thought to have been successful,” Reuters reported, adding:
“The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.”
Kim has boasted that North Korea had had no confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but the claim is doubtful, given the nation’s proximity and close trade relations with China, where the virus was first recorded.
In comparison, South Korea has recorded over 33,000 cases to date. Worldwide confirmed cases are nearly at 62 million, while the U.S. has confirmed over 13 million cases so far.
Secret “quarantine camps” reported
According to some reports leaking out of the communist dictatorship, North Koreans suspected of having the virus are being secretly forced into “quarantine camps.” And quarantine in North Korea is reportedly nothing like the West’s “stay home and watch Netflix for two weeks” version.
“My sources indicate many in these camps have already died, not only from the pandemic but also from starvation and related causes,” activist Tim Peters said, according to the South China Morning Post of Hong Kong.
Another was quoted by the Post as saying that he has heard reports of the sick “being forced into isolation, or being boarded up in their homes without food or other support and left to die.”