It comes as Kim Jong Un gives the go ahead for a border town with South Korea to reopen after spending weeks in lockdown.
North Korea is dealing with both the coronavirus and the aftermath of heavy floods which wiped out thousands of homes and crops in recent weeks. South Korea offered financial aid to their northern neighbor, but Kim Jong Un has rejected outside help.
The border town, named as Kaesong, had thousands of people quarantined there for weeks over coronavirus worries, state media said Friday.
The country has also suffered adverse affects such as 97,000 acres of crops were ruined nationwide, with around 16,600 homes and 630 public buildings destroyed or flooded.
Many people were relocated to other housing due to the flooding.
Even though Kim expressed sympathy for people, he has refused outside aid, especially from South Korea.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said: “The situation, in which the spread of the worldwide malignant virus has become worse, requires us not to allow any outside aid for the flood damage but shut the border tighter and carry out strict anti-epidemic work.”
Korean Central News Agency also said Mr. Kim replaced Kim Jae Ryong as premier following an evaluation of the Cabinet’s economic performance and appointed Kim Tok Hun as his successor.
South Korea had hoped to bolster diplomatic relations with the North by offering aid.
However, Professor Leif-Eric Easley of Ewha University in Seoul feels this rejection has all but ended it.
“The North Korean economy, while touting self-reliance, is increasingly dependent on China and will struggle to balance sanctions-busting efforts and COVID-19 prevention,” Easley said.
“The job of North Korea’s new premier will be to show the country has recovered from recent flooding and has upgraded public health facilities.”
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