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N. Korea unlikely to ease border control 'for the time being': ministry official

North Korea 11:21 November 17, 2020

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is unlikely to ease its border restrictions "for the time being" as it appears to remain on high alert against COVID-19 and to be seeking tougher preventive measures, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.

On Monday, the North's state media reported that leader Kim Jong-un held a politburo meeting of the Workers' Party and stressed the need to "keep a high alert, build a tight blocking wall and further intensify the anti-epidemic work."

"Recently, there was some media speculation that the border closure between the North and China will be lifted, but the North has taken tougher virus preventive measures as seen in the politburo meeting," the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"Given that other countries are also taking tougher preventive measures amid worries over a resurgence in time for winter, the North is not likely to ease its border closure for the time being," he added.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free, but it has maintained its tight border closure with China since earlier this year. The prolonged border closure is believed to be taking a toll on its fragile economy already under the stain of global sanctions.

Local media reports recently speculated that the North might be easing or lifting its border restrictions, including the possible resumption of the operation of international trains to and from neighboring China.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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