N Korea lifts lockdown along borders

Seoul, Aug 14:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un lifted a lockdown in a major city near the border with South Korea where thousands had been quarantined for weeks over coronavirus worries, state media said.

But Kim during a ruling party meeting also insisted the North will keep its borders shut and rejected any outside help as the country carries out an aggressive anti-virus campaign and rebuilds thousands of houses, roads and bridges damaged by heavy rain and floods in recent weeks.

Entering the last year of an ambitious five-year national development plan, Kim Jong Un in December declared a frontal breakthrough against international sanctions while urging his nation to stay resilient in a struggle for economic self-reliance.

But experts say the COVID-19 crisis likely thwarted some of Kim’s major economic goals by forcing the country into a lockdown that shut the border with China the North’s major ally and economic lifeline and potentially hampered his ability to mobilise people for labour.

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