June 09, 2023

North Korea’s COVID-19 testing limitations cast fog over outbreak’s future

Expert says DPRK’s ‘crude’ approach to identifying variants could lead to continued uncertainty about true case counts

Less than three months into North Korea’s first-known COVID-19 outbreak, the true virus situation in the country remains as unclear as ever. And evidence suggests limited testing capacity, not to mention likely state media obfuscation, will keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

Authorities have sent mixed messages about COVID-19. On the one hand, state media has all but declared victory over the virus, reporting declining cases and an unrealistically low death total despite few vaccinations and decrepit health care infrastructure.