December 09, 2023

North Korea’s COVID-19 outbreak by the numbers

Official statistics paint bleak, if uneven, picture of mass outbreak inside the country

Since early 2020, North Korea has maintained one of the strictest COVID-19 border control regimes on the planet — no one in, almost no one out. Trade, too, was largely limited as the country’s leadership did everything in its power to keep the DPRK COVID-free.

That strategy has failed. On May 12, North Korea acknowledged for the first time that COVID-19 – specifically the highly-contagious omicron variant – finally reached the North Korean people. DPRK state media has since reported over one million cases of “fever” and 50 deaths.