Pyongyang admits ‘faults’ in anti-virus measures for slain S. Korean

A South Korean boat patrols near Yeonpyeong Island on Sunday amid tensions with the North. (AP pic)

SEOUL: North Korea has discovered unspecified “faults” in its anti-epidemic measures, state media said on Wednesday, amid controversy over the death of a South Korean man whom Pyongyang said was killed to prevent the coronavirus.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened a meeting of the ruling Worker’s Party’s powerful politburo on Tuesday to review its anti-Covid-19 measures and discuss ways to improve them, the official KCNA news agency said.

The gathering came after a South Korean fisheries official was shot dead by North Korean soldiers at sea last week, a major incident that shocked many South Koreans.

Seoul has accused the soldiers of setting the man’s body on fire after killing him, while Pyongyang said they only burned a flotation device he was using, in order to stave off any risk of coronavirus infections.

At the politburo meeting, participants said “some faults” have been found during the implementation of virus prevention measures, KCNA said, without elaborating.

“The meeting stressed the need to strictly guard against self-complacency, carelessness, irresponsibility and slackness in the anti-epidemic field,” KCNA said.

“It also called for successfully maintaining a steel-strong anti-epidemic system and order.”

KCNA said the meeting also discussed unspecified organisational issues and preparations for the party’s 75th founding anniversary on Oct 10, a major holiday that North Korea usually celebrates with a massive military parade.