There are some hints that North Korea is seeing a late-fall surge in coronavirus cases, as is much of the rest of the world.

Not that the rogue nation will ever be transparent about infections, but there are reports surfacing that are highly suggestive. For example, suspected North Korean hackers have targeted COVID-19 vaccine maker AstaZeneca.

Suspected North Korean hackers have tried to break into the systems of British drugmaker AstraZeneca in recent weeks, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters, as the company races to deploy its vaccine for the COVID-19 virus

The hackers posed as recruiters on networking site LinkedIn and WhatsApp to approach AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers, the sources said. They then sent documents purporting to be job descriptions that were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to a victim’s computer.

The hacking attempts targeted a “broad set of people” including staff working on COVID-19 research, said one of the sources, but are not thought to have been successful.

There was an effort to blame Russia:

Some of the accounts used to target AstraZeneca staff were registered to Russian email addresses, however — which the sources said was most likely an attempt to mislead investigators.

It comes after South Korean officials have also accused the Hermit Kingdom of trying to hack its systems to steal information on potential vaccine.

North Korea has also executed a coronavirus rule-breaker, closed the capital, and halted fishing and salt production.

In a closed-door briefing to a parliamentary intelligence committee on Friday, the officials told lawmakers that the executed North Korean had brought goods through customs in the city of Sinuiju on North Korea’s border with China, in violation of coronavirus-related quarantine measures.

North Korea also has locked down the capital, Pyongyang, and prohibited fishing and salt production in the ocean as part of its restrictions to block COVID-19, lawmakers cited the intelligence officials as saying.

In a bold move, North Korea is also warning that yellow dust from its powerful neighbor carries the virus.

North Korea has reportedly warned that seasonal yellow dust from China might carry the novel coronavirus, and is advising its citizens to stay indoors.

Reuters reported on Saturday that North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun said that “the need to deal with the yellow dust and take thorough measures” has become more critical” as the virus spreads across the globe.

Finally, there are reports that victims of coronavirus have been left to starve in secret “quarantine camps.”

Tim Peters, a Christian activist who runs Seoul-based nonprofit Helping Hands Korea, told the South China Morning Post that the sources have reported that patients are suffering at camps near the Chinese border.

“One of the more alarming pieces of information that has come our way is that the DPRK government is providing absolutely minimal or no food or medicine to those who are interred there,” Peters told the outlet, using the acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“So, it’s up to the families of the quarantined citizens to come to the edge of the camps and bring food to keep quarantined relatives alive along with whatever health-related aids that they can muster, whether it be purchased medicines sold in the jangmadang markets, or even herbal home remedies gathered from mountainsides,” he said.

With the exception of the executions and quarantine camps, North Korea’s approach makes about as much sense as anything I have seen in California. I am a little troubled that our nation’s coronavirus moralists may pick up on a few of North Korea’s ideas and implement them here.

 

 
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