According to Human Rights Watch, in 2021, the North Korea government extended extreme and unnecessary measures under the pretext of protecting against the spread of Covid-19 by closing its borders, and tightly restricting domestic travel as well as distribution of food and other products within the country.
Senior Researcher, Lina Yoon writes, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, appears to be taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to entrench his already-firm grip on power.
North Korea became one of the first countries in the world to entirely shut its borders in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officially, the government claims it has no recorded COVID-19 infections, although media accounts say otherwise.
Through the year, the government then intensified restrictions on communications with the outside world. Domestic travel is now almost entirely prohibited, and borders are more tightly controlled than ever, with the police ordered to “unconditionally shoot” on sight anybody in border areas.
The government blocked almost all official and unofficial trade and limited domestic travel almost solely to the movement of essential personnel and goods. As a result, food and other essentials were kept from entering the country, and reduced capacities to move products internally caused shortages of basic necessities.
It has become increasingly difficult to learn the truth about what is happening to ordinary people, but there is little doubt that the situation is dire.
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