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Flood-battered NK rules out outside aid

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jon-un said Thursday his country will make efforts to rebuild homes and rice fields damaged by the recent downpours but would do so on its own, without outside help due to COVID-19.

“In the wake of the worsening coronavirus pandemic, outside help in carrying out those recovery efforts is not an option and stronger border lockdown is demanded,” Kim was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Korean Central News Agency.

“It is imperative that we fundamentally improve the regions affected by heavy rains to prevent damages later,” Kim said at a politburo meeting, adding “We cannot push ahead with the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party (in October) with residents displaced nationwide.”

Nearly 17,000 homes and 630 public facilities, along with 39,000 hectares of rice fields, were flooded in another blow to the regime still grappling with COVID-19. Kim ordered distribution of grain from his own reserves and mobilized the military to help with recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told Radio Free Asia it has offered relief goods to about 3,000 households in North Hwanghae Province and Kangwon Province, the hardest-hit regions all bordering the South.

Twenty-two North Koreans have died and four were missing, according to the IFRC.

Other aid groups said they were ready to provide assistance, with the Unite Nations Population Fund saying “A list of possible contributions-supplies by all UN agencies has already been prepared, awaiting the DPRK government’s final feedback on this support.”

DPRK is the official name of North Korea.

The European Union also said it will help, if requested.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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