- North Korea has started its Covid vaccine program – although it is currently only for soldiers, RFA said.
- TV stations are calling the vaccines an “immortal love potion” by Kim Jong Un.
- As of Thursday, North Korea has recorded more than 3.2 million cases of “fever” and 69 deaths.
Covid-stricken North Korea has finally started its vaccination program – calling the COVID-19 shots an “undying love potion” of its leader Kim Jong Un, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
But the vaccines have so far only been reserved for soldiers working on national construction projects, according to the US-funded nonprofit media outlet.
Two anonymous sources provided RFA with details and described how vehicles would play loudspeaker messages at vaccination sites, stressing that the vaccines were “a gracious gift” from Kim.
“They play loud political propaganda messages while soldiers are injected with the vaccines from China,” an unnamed government official told the outlet.
“They call it an ‘Inoculation of Love from the Highest Dignity,'” he said, using the honorary term for the country’s leader.
Another source, a local resident, appeared to confirm this to RFA. “A broadcast van that showed up at the vaccination site loudly announced the greatness of the secretary-general who was preparing the ‘immortal love potion,’ for them,” she said.
The resident told RFA the vaccines were imported from China, but did not specify the type of vaccine.
The Hermit Kingdom confirmed its first-ever Covid case on May 12, and Kim Jong Un initially criticized its officials for the country’s poor response to the virus. In the days since, however, North Korea’s state media has maintained the “very controversial claim” that its Covid wave is waning, according to the Associated Press.
Experts feared the Covid outbreak would turn into a major disaster as the country was completely unvaccinated. Last September, North Korea refused nearly three million doses of Sinovac from China and asked that they be sent to countries that needed it more urgently.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden said North Korea had not responded to a US offer of Covid vaccines, according to the BBC.
Now that a vaccination program appears to have started in the country, some soldiers were seen raising their hands in praise of Kim, the resident told RFA.
But other citizens are unhappy they haven’t gotten the push yet, she said. “People saw the scenes of the emotional soldiers singing, crying and screaming.vicarage!’ but they looked emotionless,” she said.
vicaragewhich means 10,000 years in Korean can be translated here as “Long live Kim Jong Un”.
According to state news agency KCNA, the total number of “fevers” in North Korea surpassed 3.2 million as of Thursday, and 69 people have died. The country has yet to refer to this “fever” outbreak as COVID-19 as poor testing facilities have hampered its ability to diagnose cases, the BBC said.