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Ministry: N. Korea seems to maintain strict land border controls despite signs of easing sea route

All News 11:20 October 08, 2021

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to maintain its tight restrictions on the movement of materials through land borders with China despite some signs that it is easing up its maritime border controls to bring in outside assistance, Seoul's unification ministry said Friday.

The World Health Organization reported that it has begun shipping COVID-19 medical supplies to North Korea through the Chinese port of Dalian, indicating that Pyongyang might be opening a maritime route that has been blocked since July last year due to the pandemic.

"Media reports show that there are signs that some materials are being delivered (to North Korea) ... but up until now, no concrete changes have been confirmed about the resumption of land-based materials movement between Dandong (of China) and Sinuiju (of the North)," Cha Deok-cheol, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, told reporters.

"It is hard to predict exactly when it will be reopened at the moment, and we will keep an eye on relevant developments for the time being," he added.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free and rejected outside help for its anti-epidemic campaign for fear that any shipment could spread the virus on its soil.

A ministry official earlier said that the North might be easing its long-enforced border restrictions, given that its trade with China has been on a marked rise in recent months.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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