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North Korea seems to have despatched its first delegation overseas because it closed its borders in early 2020 in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic

ByNG HAN GUAN Related Press

August 17, 2023, 10:48 PM

North Korean males sporting monitor fits with the North Korean flag and the phrases Taekwon-Do printed on the again arrive to verify in for a flight to Astana on the Capital Airport in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. A staff of North Korean Taekwondo athletes are reportedly travelling by way of China to Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, to compete in a Taekwondo competitors. (AP Picture/Ng Han Guan)

The Related Press

BEIJING — North Korea seems to have cracked open its borders within the first important means since they have been shut in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, with the impoverished nation sending a big group of taekwondo athletes and officers by means of Beijing to a world competitors.

The group of round 80 women and men sporting white monitor fits with the North Korean flag on the entrance have been within the departure corridor of Beijing’s worldwide airport. They reportedly arrived Wednesday or Thursday.

The group was anticipated to take an Air Astana flight to Kazakhstan to compete within the Worldwide Taekwon-do Federation World Championships, in keeping with Japanese and South Korean media. The competitors is being held in Astana by means of Aug. 30.

North Korea has very restricted air connections at the most effective of occasions, and worldwide journey all however ended when it closed its borders to forestall the unfold of COVID-19. How badly North Koreans have been affected by the sickness is unknown. A lot of the nation’s 26 million folks haven’t any entry to vaccines, lack fundamental well being care and are prevented from sharing info with the skin world.

In September 2022, North Korea resumed freight prepare service with China, its largest buying and selling companion and financial pipeline.

On Thursday, South Korea’s spy company instructed lawmakers that North Korea is making ready to additional reopen its border progressively as a part of its efforts to revitalize its struggling financial system.

South Korea’s Nationwide Intelligence Service instructed lawmakers in a closed-door briefing that North Korea’s financial system shrank annually in 2020-2022 and its gross home product final yr was 12% lower than in 2016, in keeping with Yoo Sang-bum, one of many lawmakers who attended the briefing.

The obvious resumption of journey got here because the U.N. rights chief, Volker Türk, instructed the primary open assembly of the U.N. Safety Council on North Korean human rights since 2017 that the nation was rising its repression and other people have been turning into extra determined, with some reported to be ravenous because the financial state of affairs worsens.

Türk mentioned North Korea’s restrictions are much more intensive, with guards approved to shoot any unauthorized particular person approaching the border and with nearly all foreigners, together with U.N. employees, nonetheless barred from the nation.

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Related Press author Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.



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