North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has blasted his top officials over lapses that caused an unspecified “great crisis” related to Covid-19, North Korean state media reports.
This is the first time the leader is publicly acknowledging the country’s covid-19 crisis as information that leaves North Korea is tightly guarded.
North Korea – closed its borders to keep out the virus after previously insisting it had no Covid cases a claim that was doubted by health experts.
Last week, Kim admitted there was a “tense” food situation and told citizens to prepare for the “worst-ever” outcome.
On Monday, North Korean state television aired a rare remark by a citizen commenting on Kim’s “emaciated” look after he appeared to have lost some weight.
In remarks reported by state news outlet KCNA, Kim accused senior officials of negligence at a specially convened meeting of party leaders.
As a result, they “caused a crucial case of creating a great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people and entailed grave consequences”.
The report then added that several members of the party had been recalled including one member from the powerful Standing Committee – which is composed of five members, including Kim himself.
Interpreting Kim’s remarks, North Korean defector and researcher Ahn Chan-il told the AFP news that the report meant that the country was likely to have confirmed Covid cases.
It was also a signal that “Pyongyang is probably in need of international aid,” he said.
“Otherwise they would not have done this as it inevitably involves acknowledging the regime’s own failure in its anti-epidemic efforts.”