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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

16:00 February 14, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

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N. Korea on highest alert to protect Pyongyang from coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been putting in all-out efforts to prevent the new coronavirus from reaching the capital city of Pyongyang, the country's state media said Saturday.

Pyongyang's anti-epidemic headquarters is meticulously carrying out testing and disinfection measures at every road reaching Pyongyang and at the same time strengthening all tests and medical monitoring, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, even though no confirmed case has been reported there.

On Friday, North Korea announced it has restructured departments at the Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters so that the responsibilities are rearranged to deal better with the viral disease.

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N. Korea appears to mark founding anniversary of armed forces in low-key manner

SEOUL, Feb. 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have marked the founding anniversary of its armed forces last week in a low-key manner amid its nationwide efforts to stem the outbreak of the new coronavirus on its soil, according to state media reports.

North Korea's 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on Saturday has been closely monitored as Pyongyang has often used such dates as a chance to showcase its new weapons and flex its military muscle.

Some speculated that the North might unveil a "new strategic weapon" that its leader threatened to showcase in the near future in his New Year's message, but experts said that the global outbreak of the highly contagious new coronavirus appear to make it hard for Pyongyang to organize any massive public events for the time being.

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N. Korea's paper reports on WHO's advice against using Wuhan in naming coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Monday reported on the World Health Organization's recommendation not to use "Wuhan" in naming the new coronavirus that originated in the central Chinese city in an apparent bid to avoid stigmatizing the city of its close ally.

The Geneva-based U.N. body made the recommendation during a press briefing last week, with an official saying, "It is the responsibility of us all to ensure that there is no stigma associated with this disease, and the unnecessary and unhelpful profiling of individuals based on ethnicity is utterly and completely unacceptable."

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried an article featuring the WHO's recommendation and advice against stigmatizing people based on the disease.

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Kim absent from public view amid concerns about new coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been absent from public view for more than two weeks amid concerns about the new coronavirus sweeping through the region, even though the communist nation has not reported any confirmed case yet.

Kim was last seen in public around at a concert in Pyongyang celebrating Lunar New Year's Day on Jan. 25. He has since not appeared in state media reports.

Pyongyang also quietly marked the 72nd anniversary of its army's founding on Saturday with no reports of the leader's attendance at the events.

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N. Korea propaganda outlet lashes out at S. Korean PM over Korean War

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean state media outlet lashed out at South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun by name Tuesday over a government committee that recently launched to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Radio Pyongyang denounced the committee's establishment as a "shameful" attempt to distort history, renewing groundless claims the North has been making for decades that the South started the war under a broader U.S. plan to conquer Asia.

Historical records indisputably show that the war began after tank-led North Korean troops invaded the South. The conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the divided Korean Peninsula technically still in a state of war.

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N. Korea deploys 500 personnel to border with China to support preventive efforts

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has dispatched around 500 workers to the country's border with China in the latest move to prevent an outbreak of the highly contagious new coronavirus on its soil, a Red Cross report showed on Tuesday.

According to the report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), North Korea's Red Cross recently dispatched the personnel for border quarantine operations at the request of the government.

The report did not provide details on when or exactly where the personnel were sent.

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N. Korean paper calls for improvement in healthcare amid coronavirus scare

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Tuesday called for beefed-up efforts to improve the country's health care system amid deepening concern over the new coronavirus that is spreading quickly across the world.

Pyongyang is making all-out efforts to prevent the virus entering the country. North Korea's weak medical infrastructure makes its people more susceptible to the highly contagious virus, which originated in neighboring China.

"Strengthening the material and technical foundation for the healthcare system will make it possible for us to put our socialist medical system on a par with those of other advanced nations as soon as possible and help our people enjoy better medical service," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, said.

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N. Korea's premier visits quarantine headquarters amid no confirmed cases of coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- North Korean Premier Kim Jae-ryong has visited quarantine offices in the country's southern regions set up to handle preventive measures against the novel coronavirus, its state media said Tuesday, amid no reports on any confirmed cases.

Kim inspected the emergency anti-epidemic headquarters in the capital city of Pyongyang and in South Pyongan Province and North Hwanghae Province, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

During the visit to the Pyongyang headquarters, he stressed the need to "enhance its responsibility and role decisively and meticulously exercise guidance and control" for quarantine efforts, KCNA reported.

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N. Korean media touts Xi's recent visit to hospital

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper on Wednesday carried a detailed report on Chinese President Xi Jingping's recent visits to various sites related to efforts to fight the new coronavirus, praising the neighboring ally for efforts to bring the virus under control.

The Rodong Sinmun report appeared to show that Pyongyang stands firmly by China and Xi, despite criticism of the way Beijing has handled the deadly COVID-19 virus that has killed more than 1,100 in China alone. The number of confirmed cases exceeds 44,000.

Xi's visits Monday to a disease control center and other sites were his first since the virus broke out.

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N. Korea offers English, Chinese services for website featuring Mount Kumgang

SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has begun providing English and Chinese-language services for information posted on a website promoting tours to Mount Kumgang amid its push to bolster tourism as a key industry and prop up its frail economy in the face of crippling international sanctions.

The move appears to show that Pyongyang's push to lure foreign tourist remains undeterred by growing concern over the global outbreak of the new coronavirus that has led the country to tighten its border with China. Most foreign visitors cross the border to enter the reclusive state.

The website run by Kumgangsan International Travel Company has added menus that will allow people to click and choose English and Chinese-language services for information the company is providing on Mount Kumgang on its east coast.

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N. Korea replaces domestic security chief: Seoul

SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has appointed Kim Jong-ho as new minister of people's security, a South Korean government publication indicated Thursday.

North Korea's leadership chart, released by South Korea's unification ministry, showed that Kim replaced Choe Pu-il, who was promoted to department director handling military affairs at the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, in December.

The Ministry of People's Security is roughly equivalent to South Korea's National Police Agency.

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N. Korean newspaper reports on spike in new coronavirus infections, death toll in China

SEOUL, Dec. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official newspaper on Friday reported about a recent spike in new coronavirus infections and the death toll in China as Pyongyang is making an all-out effort to prevent the flow of the highly contagious virus from its neighboring country.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried a series of articles providing details on latest developments on the spread of the COVID-19 that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

"China confirmed 15,152 new coronavirus infection on Wednesday alone with 254 people losing their lives," the paper said in an article.
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