A US forces commander in South Korea stated that shoot to kill orders have been released by authorities from North Korea in order to stop the coronavirus from entering its borders from China.
Despite having borders with China, the country where the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) first emerged, the Hermit Kingdom has not reported a single case of the disease. It has been noted that due to the impoverished health care system of the country, the North would struggle if the virus that caused the pandemic would lead to an outbreak in the country.
According to Yahoo! News, back in January, Pyongyang has already issued an order to shut down its borders with China in order to prevent the virus from entering the state. In addition, the state media also announced in July that the country has decreed a maximum level state of emergency.
Meanwhile, Robert Abrams, commander of the US Forces Korea, the closing down of the border prompted an increase in demand for smuggled goods. Due to this, the authorities needed to intervene.
In an online conference in Washington on Thursday which as organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Abrams stated that a new "buffer zone" was introduced by the North about one or two kilometers on the border with China.
Abrams added that Special Operations Forces of North Korea were deployed in the said buffer zone, who had orders to shoot-to-kill anyone who dares to cross.
Impact on the Economy
The commander further added that the closure of the border had accelerated the effects of many economic sanctions that were imposed on the rogue nation due to its nuclear arsenal. Thus, with imports from its closest ally, China, dropping by 85%, the North's economy has been crippled.
Aside from the effects of COVID-19, the North is also feeling the hard hit of the aftermath of Typhoon Maysak which destroyed at least 2,000 homes according to the state media.
Due to this, Abrams stated that he is not expecting Pyongyang to issue major provocations anytime soon. However, he also noted that the nation may show off its new weapons system during the celebration of the founding of Kim Jong Un's ruling party's 75th anniversary.
Moreover, Abrams noted that the focus of the regime at the moment is centered on recovering from natural disasters and also keeping COVID-19 out of its borders, Journal Online reported.
Meanwhile, regarding the issue of COVID-19, it has been repeatedly insisted by the North that the disease has not invaded its borders and no outbreaks have happened. However, many have expressed skepticism on the claims of Pyongyang since China is one of its closest allies and the two nations share a long border.
At the moment, there are no further information is given on the said shoot to kill directive by Pyongyang as a measure against COVID-19. The state is yet to release a statement regarding the claims of the US Forces commander.
On the other hand, the leader of the North, Kim Jong Un has also been in the headlines in the past weeks due to talks about a shift in power and delegation of some powers to his sister Kim Yo Jong.
Related article: North Korean Leader Admits Economic Shortcoming Needs More Planning