north korea coronavirusnorth korea coronavirus

Masked people walk in front of Pyongyang Station on April 27, 2020, amid concerns over the new coronavirus.

Kyodo News via Getty Images

  • North Korea has implemented a number of measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, though its claims of zero cases and fatalities is highly unlikely.
  • The government has halted tourism and shut down most of its border, though trade with China has continued.
  • Photos from inside the country in recent weeks show residents and workers taking precautions such as wearing masks and gloves.
  • But images of cramped classrooms and government meetings show challenges in implementing social-distancing measures, and experts have noted that the country lacks a healthcare infrastructure to combat a pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Like most countries around the world, North Korea has taken a number of drastic measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hermit Kingdom has so far reported zero cases and zero fatalities, though it’s unlikely that’s actually true.

Photos from inside the country in recent weeks show masked residents and workers, temperature checks, and efforts to disinfect imported goods and public transportation.

Amid the lockdown, speculation has also run rampant regarding the whereabouts of the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, who hasn’t been seen in public since April 11.

Here’s what life inside North Korea looks like as the country battles the outbreak.

North Korea’s government acted early to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and appears to have taken the threat seriously.

north korea coronavirus

People wearing face masks cross a road in front of the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

Associated Press/Cha Song Ho

Source: Reuters

First, it suspended foreign tourism in late January.

north korea

A man walks his bicycle at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, April 30, 2020.

Associated Press/Cha Song Ho

Source: 38 North

The country also said it quarantined 10,000 of its citizens and all of its diplomats.

north korea coronavirus

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Students wearing face masks disinfect their hands and undergo a temperature check as they arrive for a lecture on preventative measures against the COVID-19 novel coronavirus at the Pyongyang University of Medicine in Pyongyang on April 22, 2020.

Kim Won Jin/AFP via Getty Images

Source: The New York Times

In February, it closed down its 880-mile border with China almost entirely.

north korea china border

A tourist uses binoculars to look across to North Korea from a tower built on the Chinese side of the border between Russia (L), China (C) and North Korea (R) near the town of Hunchun in China, November 24, 2017.

Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Source: 38 North

Despite the measures, and images of masks and disinfectant, experts have remained highly skeptical of North Korea’s ability to contain an outbreak — decades of sanctions and widespread poverty have gutted the country’s healthcare infrastructure.

north korea coronavirus

A general view shows North Korean people working in fields in the countryside outside Kaesong, seen across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from the South Korean island of Ganghwa on April 23, 2020.

Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Sources: The New York Times, Business Insider

Chinese authorities even warned residents in border cities not to stray too close to North Korea, lest they be shot by North Korean guards.

china north korea border

A sign reading, “Take the initiative to preserve order along the border,” stands in a field at the border between China and North Korea just outside Dandong, Liaoning province, China, November 19, 2017.

Reuters/Damir Sagol

Source: Reuters