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Analysis of the 8th Political Bureau Meeting of the 8th Term of the Party Central Committee and the Spread of COVID-19 in North Korea

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Author Hong, Min,Choi, Gyubin
Publish Date / Page 2022-05-20 / 15 p.
Series No. CO 22-14(E)
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It appears that North Korea has entered a phase of mass outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. On May 12, North Korea disclosed the number of confirmed cases and deaths nationwide as the 8th political bureau meeting of the 8th term of the party central committee declared the ‘maximum emergency epidemic prevention system’ while Kim Jong-un visited the national emergency quarantine command. It appears that the virus began to spread nationwide in late April, and major events including the recent military parade in April were the key catalyst of this outbreak. North Korea is likely to respond by actually achieving herd immunity through a management of the epidemic that focuses on ‘isolation’. The degree of the epidemic and how the maximum emergency epidemic prevention system is operated is expected to not only impact politics, the economy, and society in North Korea but also the country’s relationship with the international community. North Korea’s recent actions related to the advancement of its nuclear arsenal are expected to accelerate as a result of its intent to develop strategic weapons and the desire to convey a message on foreign policy. But there is the possibility that test launches of missiles will not be announced for the foreseeable future due to the pressures associated with announcing these tests amidst the ‘epidemic prevention crisis’. From this perspective, the schedule for ‘big events’ such as nuclear tests is also likely to be adjusted. It is necessary to pay close attention to North Korea’s current and future responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, its political motives, and how the response to the pandemic may potentially be manipulated. This study analyzes the intention behind North Korea’s disclosure of confirmed cases, the features of the major responsive measures, and the epidemic prevention situation to assess North Korea’s anticipated actions, the impact on domestic and international affairs, and the prospect for international cooperation.