Safeguarding the North Korean people’s lives against the global COVID-19 pandemic is more important than economic development, the country’s ruling party daily stressed on Monday.
The article, carried on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun, argued that the country’s “emergency quarantine” work was now higher priority than meeting deadlines for economic projects set to be completed on October 10 — the ruling party’s 75th founding anniversary.
“It was the goal of struggle set by our people… to achieve big achievements in economic construction and meaningfully welcome the 75th anniversary of the founding of our great party,” the article read.
“However, responding to the unpredicted emergency situation, our party re-strategized to the principle of unconditionally obeying all things to guaranteeing the life and safety of the people.”
The argument that anti-coronavirus work should take priority over pending economic projects also appeared in the ruling party daily on Friday.
“It is our party’s demand that we should consider blocking the infiltration of the pandemic infection disease more important than any achievements in economic construction,” the “special article” (ronsol) said.
Since then, four consecutive front-page special articles in the Rodong had emphasized the ruling party’s reported work to improve people’s livelihood.
Three reiterated points made during the Political Bureau meeting held earlier this month, at which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for strengthened anti-epidemic work and disparaged officials for failing to take the pandemic seriously.
That meeting, which reportedly “reviewed” the country’s quarantine work over the past six months, discussed plans to further consolidate and “enhance” COVID-19 prevention efforts, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
And while Kim Jong Un assessed that the North had “thoroughly prevented” COVID-19 and “maintained stable anti-epidemic situation,” he also slammed officials that showed “self-complacence or relaxation on the anti-epidemic front.”
“Sharp criticism” was reportedly given to the “inattention, onlooking and chronic attitude prevalent among officials, and violation of the rules of the emergency anti-epidemic work.”
Apparently responding to that criticism, one article in the Rodong on Monday — titled “More Perfectly” — quoted an official at the Central Emergency Quarantine Command of DPRK conducting a self-criticism of their anti-epidemic work.
The central command for quarantine, they said, had been “self-conceited that the current quarantine measures were watertight, because our country until now did not see even one person infected of the malignant virus.”
The Political Bureau meeting in July reminded officials that “the people’s life and safety are more important” and more “urgent” than any economic projects slated to be finished by October 10 anniversary, the article said.
Among these projects is the renovation of the politically-symbolic city of Samjiyon, for which the second stage of construction was wrapped-up in December.
It’s unclear when work at the delayed Wonsan-Kalma Coastal Tourist Area project is set to wrap up.
And despite the North’s latest emphasis on COVID-19 prevention over economy construction, work on the Pyongyang General Hospital — the latest addition to the list of major ruling party projects — continues apace.
A front-page article said on Monday that officials at the DPRK Ministry of Public Health were “actively pushing forward” with plans to procure medical supplies and equipment needed for the hospital.
Workers and officials feel a sense of “responsibility” to complete the construction “as soon as possible,” another said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Safeguarding the North Korean people's lives against the global COVID-19 pandemic is more important than economic development, the country's ruling party daily stressed on Monday.
The article, carried on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun, argued that the country's "emergency quarantine" work was now higher priority than meeting deadlines for economic projects set to be completed on October 10 -- the ruling party's 75th founding anniversary.