North Korea, thus far relatively quiet about South Korea’s Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak, on Monday criticized Seoul’s handling of the illness.
The context for the broadside – originating from the Secretariat of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea, as quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency – was a Saturday report by Seoul’s Korean Broadcasting System, the national broadcaster of South Korea.
The North Korean side said that the “reptile conservative media” KBS, under the order of the President Park Geun-hye’s government, had “spread the wild rumor that the DPRK has been engaged in a hacking attack.”
“This racket is another hideous reckless provocation against the DPRK as it is aimed to abuse even the epidemic spreading in south Korea for escalating the confrontation with the compatriots in the north,” it said. It laid the blame for the MERS outbreak at the feet of the Park government, and said the hacking allegations were a means of distracting from the “death phobia” resulting from the MERS outbreak.
“The ulterior design sought by the puppet group is to cover up the crime it perpetrated by causing the MERS case, divert elsewhere the public attention and thus tide over its ruling crisis,” the statement said.
“The puppet group is sadly mistaken if it calculates that it can get rid of its pretty fix through the conspiratorial racket against the DPRK.”
North Korean state media mentions of MERS had previously been brief and rather restrained. Also, while sources say it has been checking the temperatures of South Koreans crossing the border to get the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, they said North Korean workers at the facility have not displayed concern over, or even awareness of, the South Korean outbreak.
At latest count, 150 infections had been reported in the South, with 16 deaths. The South Korean government has thus far quarantined a little more than 200 people.
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Featured Image: MERS Coronavirus Particle by NIAID on 2014-02-12 10:19:50