Kim Jong-un's sister blames South Korea for spreading Covid-19 and warns of retaliation

The isolated country has taken a draconian approach to stopping the spread of the pandemic

Kim Yo-jong says North Korea will 'eradicate' authorities in the South unless Seoul stops its destabilising activities. AP
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The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has blamed South Korea for spreading Covid-19 in the isolated country.

Kim Yo-jong said the North would seek revenge and “eradicate” South Korean authorities unless the government in Seoul stopped its destabilising activities.

North Korea has introduced some of the world's most stringent controls on daily life in an attempt to stamp out the spread of the coronavirus, having long-claimed never to have had an outbreak.

Its tough “zero Covid” policy has led to the closure of borders, disrupted the movement of food for its vulnerable population and driven up poverty rates.

South Korean activists often send balloons with notes about life in South Korea — where the average citizen earns more than 30 times the average annual income in the North.

Ms Kim said these activities were responsible for the country's Covid outbreak and called them a “crime against humanity”, the official Korea Central News Agency reported.

She said that many countries — and the World Health Organisation — had acknowledged “the danger of spreading an infectious disease through contacting contaminated objects”, according to the report.

“It is very worrisome that South Korea is sending leaflets, money, sloppy brochures and items into our region,” she said.

Ms Kim said Pyongyang was considering “a strong retaliatory response”.

If the balloons continue, “we will respond by eradicating not only the virus, but also the South Korean authorities”, she said.

Seoul last month said there had been “no officially verified cases of Covid infections via post or materials”.

Ms Kim's comments come at a time when her brother has declared a “shining victory” in the battle against Covid-19, after officials reported no new cases of the virus for about two weeks.

The Pyongyang government said it had defeated Covid-19 on Wednesday, while hinting that the North Korean leader had suffered from the disease, falling ill with a fever.

The country has one of the world's worst healthcare systems, with poorly equipped hospitals, few intensive care units, and no Covid-19 treatment drugs or vaccines, experts say.

Updated: August 11, 2022, 7:48 AM
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