Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers Party, has warned citizens to stay vigilant for “strange objects” flying over the border from the south, and suggested that they may be infected with the coronavirus.
“Even when we come across a strange object flying in the wind, we must consider them a possible route of transmission of the malicious virus rather than a natural phenomenon,” the newspaper warned, referring to the coronavirus, in an article dedicated to the country’s anti-epidemiological efforts.
The paper urged citizens to be on the lookout, and stressed that while many countries have developed vaccines and begun mass vaccinations to tackle Covid, strains of the virus are constantly mutating, potentially making vaccines ineffective in preventing the virus’s spread.
Also Thursday, South Korean media reported that ROK police had raided the office of activists engaged in the sending of hundreds of thousands of propaganda leaflets toward North Korea via balloons, in contravention of a recently-passed law outlawing such activities for fear of provoking a response from Pyongyang.
Between 25 and 29 April, activists from the so-called ‘Fighters for a Free North Korea’ were accused of using 10 large balloons to send 500,000 leaflets to North Korea, 500 booklets and 5,000 one dollar bills.
Seoul introduced the leaflet ban in March after reports that they helped cause the major cooling of ties between the two Koreas after many months of careful efforts and patient diplomacy between Chairman Kim and President Moon Jae-in.
North Korea has taken the concept of 'social distancing' among nations to a new level amid the coronavirus pandemic, closing its borders, cancelling all flights into and out of the country, barring tourists, and forcing foreign diplomatic missions to reduce their presence to a bare minimum while mobilizing and dispatching health authorities across the country to educate people about the virus and promote good public hygiene. The country’s total Covid cases remain unknown, with Pyongyang continuing to maintain zero confirmed cases after testing nearly 24,000 people out of a population of over 25.6 million.
North Korea isn't the first country to express suspicions about the use of the coronavirus as a potential tool of sabotage and warfare. Last year, Yemen's Houthi militia urged civilians not to use facemasks and other medical equipment dropped from Saudi-led coalition aircraft, fearing they may be contaminated with the coronavirus. Riyadh and its allies did not comment on those explosive allegations.