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Summary of domestic news in North Korea this week

All News 16:00 February 07, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of domestic news in North Korea this week.

NK newspaper urges 'absolute obedience' to Pyongyang's campaign to fight coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, called on the country's people Saturday to show "absolute obedience" to Pyongyang's stepped-up campaign to prevent the spread of the deadly new coronavirus stemming from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The call came as the North has reportedly shut down all air and railway routes across its borders with China and taken other stringent steps to fend off the highly contagious disease that could potentially hamper its efforts to improve people's livelihoods.

"We have to thoroughly protect the lives of the people and the safety of the nation by ramping up disinfection efforts," the paper said in an editorial.

N.K. cabinet holds this year's first plenary session on economy, people's livelihoods

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea recently convened an extended plenary session of its cabinet, the first this year, to discuss a series of tasks for economic development and other issues, Pyongyang's state media said Saturday.

The Minju Chosun, the daily of the North's Cabinet, reported that participants discussed what leader Kim Jong-un put forward at a key session of the ruling Workers' Party's Central Committee late last year.

At the time, Kim made clear that his country would make a "frontal breakthrough" through "self-reliance," as prospects of sanctions relief had dimmed amid the deadlock in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Senior N. Korean party official visits China

BEIJING/SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean ruling party official handling relations with China visited Beijing on Saturday, a source said, amid efforts by both countries to stem the spread of a deadly new coronavirus.

Kim Song-nam, first vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea, arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport in the morning, the source said, with the purpose of his visit unknown.

Japan's Kyodo News reported that Kim may hold talks with Beijing officials during his stay.

N. Korean leader expresses support to Chinese President Xi Jinping over coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expressed support to Chinese President Xi Jinping over China's efforts to stop the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has killed 259 Chinese people and sickened more than 11,000.

On Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said that Kim "conveyed his sincere feelings of wanting to share the suffering and trial of the fraternal Chinese people and to render help even a bit" in a letter to Xi.

Kim also sent "militant greetings" to the Chinese president and expressed the conviction that China would emerge victorious in its campaign to combat the deadly virus.

N. Korea stepping up efforts to prevent influx of coronavirus: report

SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is ratcheting up efforts to prevent an influx of the new coronavirus into the country, the country's main newspaper said Sunday.

The communist state has not yet reported the outbreak of the deadly virus but given its proximity to China, it has been extremely vigilant against the outbreak of the novel virus.

North Korea has shut down all its air and railway routes across its borders with China in an apparent effort to prevent the spread of the new strain of coronavirus into the country, according to the British government.

N. Korea continues group events despite fears over new coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Koreans have been moving around in large groups without wearing masks in state-organized events despite the government's campaign to prevent an outbreak of the new coronavirus, according to state media reports Tuesday.

The North's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, carried photos of participants in a 250-mile journey to celebrate the North's late founder and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Il-sung, saying they arrived in Phophyong in Ryanggang province bordering China on Monday.

Photos showed hundreds of people gathered in a plaza and marching together without masks.

N. Korea deploys minister-level officials to lead nationwide fight against coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has put minister-level officials in charge of its nationwide fight against the new coronavirus, Pyongyang's official newspaper said on Tuesday, amid growing concerns over the global spread of the potentially deadly virus.

The move is the latest in a series of North Korean measures to prevent the spread of the virus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

"Our party has taken additional steps so as to help relevant units under the central emergency quarantine office increase their capacity, organize business, find any loopholes in preventive efforts and draw up thorough countermeasures," the Rodong Sinmun said.

N. Korea maintains stable rate of inflation despite sanctions: report

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have maintained a relatively stable rate of inflation last year despite crippling sanctions restricting its global trade, a report showed Tuesday.

The report by a researcher at the Korean Institute for National Unification contradicts speculation that the prices of daily necessities have risen sharply in North Korea as sanctions undercut supplies to the communist state.

According to the report published in a monthly review of North Korean economic conditions by the Korea Development Institute, a state-run think tank, the prices of such products as rice, seafood and refined oil remained stable last year.

N. Korea beefs up mask production to fight coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is beefing up production of facial masks as part of efforts to provide more protection for its citizens and health officials from the new coronavirus fast spreading in China and many other countries, state media reported Wednesday.

North Korea has yet to confirm any case of coronavirus infection, but it is making all-out efforts to prevent its outbreak by strengthening preventive measures.

In an article titled "Let's completely block the new coronavirus," the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, reported that factories in Pyongyang are now producing masks "in earnest."

N. Korea to examine drinking water sources to ward off coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is preparing to examine drinking water sources, such as rivers and lakes, to make sure that the new coronavirus won't flow into the country, state media reported Thursday.

The move is the latest in a series of measures that the North has taken to fight the fast-spreading virus that originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.

"Detailed work plans are being drawn up to analyze the water quality of rivers, streams and lakes that are being used as sources of drinking water," the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported.

N. Korea unlikely to hold massive public events this month amid nationwide fight against virus

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is unlikely to hold a military parade or other massive events to mark this month's founding anniversary of its armed forces and the birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il as Pyongyang is on alert to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, an official said Thursday.

North Korea marks the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the Korean People's Army on Saturday and also celebrates the 78th birthday of the late father of leader Kim Jong-un on Feb. 16. The North has often used such celebrations 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 Day 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.

N. Korea keeps spa and ski resorts running despite fears of new coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korea continues to operate its newest spa resort in the central county of Yangdok and the country's No. 1 Masikryong ski resort in the eastern region despite fears over the global spread of a new coronavirus from China.

Around 25,000 tourists have visited the Yangdok spa resort in the North's South Pyongan Province since it first opened on Jan. 10 up to Feb. 4, Pyongyang Radio said Thursday.

"Many workers and the youth continue to visit the resort, where they can enjoy treatment and recuperation, ski and horseback riding facilities as well as luxurious homes in this well-connected resort," the state's radio channel said, emphasizing that the number of visitors continues to grow amid the new coronavirus crisis.

N. Korea restructures anti-epidemic agency amid fight against new coronavirus

SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has restructured its anti-epidemic headquarters as part of efforts to prevent the new coronavirus from reaching the country, Pyongyang's state media said Friday.

The responsibilities of departments at the Central Emergency Anti-epidemic Headquarters have been rearranged to deal better with the viral disease, the Korean Central News Agency said, even though no confirmed case has been reported there.

North Korean scientists are also actively carrying out projects to develop new medicines to prevent or cure the deadly virus, which has killed at least 636 people and infected over 31,000 in China, according to Meari, one of the North's propaganda websites.

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