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North Korea may keep borders closed amid pandemic for long time — Russian ambassador

Explaining the rationale, the official envoy mentioned a possible second wave of the disease

PYONGYANG, May 29. /TASS/. North Korea may keep its borders closed for quite a long time amid the coronavirus pandemic, Russia’s ambassador to the DPRK Alexander Matsegora told TASS in an interview.

"I’m afraid that this [the resumption of foreign trips to North Korea] may happen not very soon," he said.

In the envoy's opinion the situation around North Korea — in Russia and in China — remains complicated.

"We have not emerged from the first wave of the disease yet, and some say that another one is round the corner. Our Korean friends say the borders will be closed tightly until the global situation returns to normal. It’s up to you to make the conclusions," he stated.

Life changes in North Korea

North Korean citizens have experienced dramatic changes in their ordinary day-to-day lives due to imposed quarantine measures aimed at fighting coronavirus, Alexander Matsegora said in an interview with TASS.

"The lives of [North] Koreans changed a lot, that’s for sure," the ambassador noted. "The overwhelming majority of people have no restrictions placed on their movement, but you can barely see any children outside as you used to." The diplomat explained that people of different ages used to walk around every evening and do sports. "Now, there’s nothing like that," he said. Open cafes catering to a large numbers of clients, restaurants and bars are shut down. "Amusement parks, theaters and cinemas are not operating, you cannot go to swimming pools even though sauna facilities have already reopened," Matsegora added.

At the same time, most North Koreans are not facing any problems with work or salaries as all factories, plants, enterprises and various agencies continue working. However, the diplomat conceded that the country is experiencing certain issues with imported food and industrial goods. "The borders are opened for supplying limited amounts of essential goods," he explained. "That is why we have long since seen, for instance, lemons, oranges and other fruit sold in shops."

"Nevertheless, they are substituted by Korean strawberries, which are abundant on markets and are unaffected by coronavirus," Matsegora underlined.