Two years ago, President Donald Trump was meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore and celebrating the signing of a historic agreement.

Recall that Kim saw a video depicting the prosperous and productive nation North Korea could be if it were an honest partner and willing negotiator.

Kim treated Trump as if he were similar to his predecessors and act-out in the hopes of being bribed into good behavior. For example, he continues to order ballistic missile tests, trying to present “strength.”

North Korea fired what are believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles in the country’s first weapons test of the year.

South Korean officials reported the projectiles were fired from the coastal town of Wonsan on Monday. They soared 149 miles northeast to a top height of 22 miles before falling into the waters between South Korea and Japan. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff suspect the projectiles were short-range ballistic missiles, and an investigation into the incident is being conducted by South Korean and U.S. officials.

The test was believed to be a test of North Korea’s developing “super-large” multi-rocket launcher, which was tested in 2019. This launcher could give North Korea enough range to strike U.S. bases in Japan or South Korea.

Kim chose poorly.

In these days of infection and fear, a recent propaganda photo sums up the image North Korea wants to show the world, as well as its people: Soldiers with black surgical masks surround leader Kim Jong Un, ensconced in a leather overcoat and without a mask as he oversees a defiant military drill.

As a new and frightening virus closes in around it, North Korea presents itself as a fortress, tightening its borders as cadres of health officials stage a monumental disinfection and monitoring program.

That image of world-defying impregnability, however, may belie a brewing disaster.

North Korea, which has what experts call a horrendous medical infrastructure in the best of times, shares a porous, nearly 1,450-kilometer (900-mile) border with China, where the disease originated and has since rapidly spread around the world. The North’s government has also long considered public reports on infectious disease — or, for that matter, anything that could hurt the ruling elite — matters of state secrecy.

Legal Insurrection readers may recall a previous report I did on North Korean farming techniques and their reliance on human feces, which is also another poor choice.

Parasitic worms have been found in a North Korean soldier critically injured while defecting to South Korea, highlighting nutrition and hygiene problems that observers believe have plagued the isolated country for decades.

Dozens of flesh-coloured parasites, one of which was 27cm (11 inches) long, were found in the man’s digestive tract during life-saving operations, according to the lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong.

“In my over-20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” Lee said.

Between the sanitation, a diet limited by corrupt farming practices and sanctions, and North Korea’s secret society, conditions ripen for a COVID-19 epidemic. There are indications that this may be occurring.

The Daily NK is a South Korean newspaper that reports on the North, using informants. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il’s eldest son Kim Jong-nam described it as the most accurate source of inside information on North Korea, particularly the country’s markets. Sometimes even South Korea’s National Intelligence Service contacts Daily NK asking for information.

Here is what that publication is reporting:

North Korea has ordered major provincial organizations, military-run factories and other facilities to prepare a months’ worth of food, signalling that the state is unable to provide rations anymore, Daily NK has learned.

“The order was handed down by provincial party committees to local people’s committees, Ministry of State Security offices, police stations, military-run factories run by the Second Economic Committee [of the Workers’ Party of Korea], and even orphanages,” a North Hamgyong Province-based source told Daily NK on Feb. 26.

“This is the first time the party has handed down an order for these organizations to prepare a months’ worth of food. It’s particularly noteworthy because North Korea isn’t facing the threat of war,” the source continued.

The images taken at the missile testing show several officers wearing face masks. Reports indicate North Korean military maneuvers have been trimmed back, perhaps to stem the spread.

James Carafano of The Heritage Foundation wrote in a recent op-ed piece for Fox News that Pyongyang had closed its border with China.

Lack of trade and travel – even a temporary ban – will further cripple the economy of what is already the poorest country on Earth. The bottom line: Starving North Koreans will starve more, Carafano wrote.

North Koreans are tough, Carafano also noted. They have suffered through decades of deprivation and pain at the hands of the regime in Pyongyang, so they will likely survive this.

Still, if the virus gets loose in North Korea, it will be hellish, he said. Most North Koreans are malnourished, and malnourished people have depressed immune systems. People with depressed immune systems are more likely to get the flu and more likely to be debilitated by it.

I suspect that last week’s ballistic bluster was an attempt to distract a sick and miserable population. That is a prescription likely to fail.

And the saddest part of all, it didn’t need to happen.

 

 
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