North Korea has issued "shoot-to-kill" orders to prevent COVID-19 from entering the country, said Robert Abrams, commander of US Forces Korea (USFK). Abrams during an online event organised by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said that the "undernourished" country with a poor health system has instructed its forces to kill anyone trying to smuggle goods into the country or enter illegally from China. Surprisingly, North Korea has not reported a single case of COVID-19 so far despite sharing the border with China, from where the disease originated.
"North Korean smugglers been trying to to get across and as a result, the regime issued out instructions so now they've got an additional buffer zone, one or two kilometers up on the Chinese border they have got North Korean SOF (Special Operations Forces) out there managing these things, Strike forces, they've got shoot-to-kill orders in place and this is fundamentally about preventing COVID from getting into North Korea," Abrams said during the event.
"Everyone's aware of the sanctions on North Korea and sanctions historically always take a long time. The effectiveness of sanctions early on was sort of varied but with COVID-19 that has accelerated the effects of sanctions on North Korea. They closed their border at the end of January. If you look just back at the sanctions of 2017 that dropped Chinese imports by about 50 percent and then they rebounded last year. When the border shutdown with COVID-19 it dropped imports by China with 85 percent. There is a cumulative effect economically of COVID and the sanctions," Robert Abrams said on Thursday.
Abrams said that the measures are "understandable" because of the country's poor health system and undernourished population as they don't have the medical capacity and a very large outbreak could be devastating so they have taken the matter into their own hands. He further added that the effects of the three back-to-back typhoons are also one of the reasons that the regime has issued such orders as they are focused on getting their country recovered.