North Korea on virus threat: 'Under safe and stable control'

In this UNTV image, Kim Song, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Nations, speaks in person during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at U.N. headquarters. (UNTV via AP)
In this UNTV image, Kim Song, Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Nations, speaks in person during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, at U.N. headquarters. (UNTV via AP)

North Korea on Tuesday called on the world's governments to “display effective leadership” in the fight against COVID-19 and said its own measures against the pandemic, which it called “preemptive, timely and strong,” ensured it had the threat “under safe and stable control."

Kim Song, the country's U.N. ambassador, said a tightly administered anti-pandemic effort in his nation had been working. North Korea strictly regulates foreign visitors — even more so during the pandemic that's killed more than 1 million people worldwide — and filters all information through its state propaganda apparatus, with details about its approach to the coronavirus relatively scant.

"(The) anti-epidemic situation in our country is now under safe and stable control,” the ambassador said in a rare live address at the U.N. General Assembly.

“A series of state measures are now being taken to block the virus inflow into the country, and all people adhere strictly to anti-epidemic regulations while maintaining the highest alert,” he said.

Further, Kim said the government “will not tolerate even a smallest bit of slackness or concession, but further strengthen the state emergency anti-epidemic measures until the danger of the pandemic inflow is completely eliminated."

Until Tuesday, all speeches at the U.N. General Assembly over the past week were virtual, delivered by world leaders in prerecorded videos from their home nations. The meeting concluded with a smattering of speeches by officials based at the United Nations — including Kim.

North Korean state media later reported the nation's leader Kim Jong Un had presided over a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Politburo on Tuesday. The Korean Central News Agency said officials during the meeting warned against complacency and addressed unspecified problems in the country’s anti-virus campaign while discussing ways to maintain a “streel-strong anti-epidemic system.”

North Korea has steadfastly said there hasn’t been a single virus case on its territory, a claim widely disputed by foreign experts.