Kim Jong-un is ‘having difficulty’ reveals North Korea expert
Kim Jong-un and his family are believed to have taken a coronavirus vaccine provided by China. Harry Kazianis, senior director at the Center for the National Interest, revealed that Mr Kim and multiple high-ranking officials within his leadership network has received the jab, citing unidentified Japanese intelligence sources.
Mr Kazianis wrote in 19FortyFive: “Kim Jong-un and multiple other high-ranking officials within the Kim family and leadership network have been vaccinated for coronavirus within the last two to three weeks thanks to a vaccine candidate supplied by the Chinese government.”
It comes amid reports North Korea tried to hack into AstraZeneca’s computer networks.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Kazianis said: “North Korea is for sure desperate for not only a vaccine but also effective treatments to combat the virus for those in country that are already sick, and trust me, don’t believe for one second the hermit kingdom has been spared.”
The hackers posed as recruiters on the social networking sites LinkedIn and WhatsApp by approaching AstraZeneca staff with fake job offers.
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Sources told Reuters the people were sent documents pretending to be job descriptions but were laced with malicious code designed to gain access to the person’s computer.
North Korea has previously denied carrying out cyberattacks and has not commented one the alleged incidents.
North Korea is yet to confirm any cases of COVID-19, claiming there have been no infections.
But South Korea’s Intelligence Service (NIS) claimed an outbreak in the North cannot be ruled out as it had trade and face-to-face exchanges with people from China.
Cities around North Korea, including the capital, have reportedly been placed into lockdown due to the pandemic.
The so-called ‘hermit kingdom’ has also instituted a ban on fishing and salt production in North Korean waters.
Mr Kazianis explained how an outbreak in the country could be devastating due to its poor healthcare infrastructure.
He said: “With North Korea’s healthcare system being so primitive, it would take just a small outbreak to become something much worse.
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“Think about how the US is coping with COVID-19 even with a world-class healthcare system.
“Coronavirus is a pandemic the likes we have not seen in a century, and no nation has a bulletproof strategy to combat and defeat it.
“That means North Korea looks at the pandemic as an existential threat—something that it would struggle to stop if mass infections took hold.”
Mr Kazianis indicated that Mr Kim is likely to go to any measure to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in North Korea.
He added: “The North Korean health system outside of Pyongyang is a total disaster, so anything the DPRK can do to combat the virus they will do.”
It comes amid reports North Korea has cut off trade with its closest ally Beijing, despite China’s current relatively low COVID-19 infections.
Mr Kazianis said: “Kim had to make a very tough call in cutting off all trade and contact with China. Keep in mind, North Korea was already in an economic depression thanks to US economic sanctions.
“Now add in three typhoon landings and food insecurity issues along with COVID-19 and North Korea now faces a perfect storm of having to combat so many challenges at once that the regime’s overall stability has likely been shaken to at least some extent.”
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