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NKorea Toughens Rules of Entry to Sea  11/29 10:22


   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea is further toughening restrictions on 
entering seawaters as part of elevated steps to fight the coronavirus pandemic, 
state media said Sunday, two days after South Korea said the North had banned 
sea fishing.

   The Korean Central News Agency reported the country is mobilizing more 
anti-virus units and establishing strong steps to "completely remove 
uncivilized and unhygienic elements that could help make room for the spread of 
an epidemic" at winter. Some experts say the coronavirus can spread more 
broadly during cold weather when people typically spend more time indoors.

   KCNA said officials were building firm anti-epidemic measures along border 
areas to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country. In front-line 
coastal areas, authorities were working out more stringent rules for venturing 
out at sea and collecting filthy materials in the waters, according to KCNA.

   North Korea has maintained no single virus case has been found on its 
territory, a claim widely questioned by outside experts. Despite its claim, 
North Korea has swiftly sealed its borders, flew out diplomats and isolated 
residents with symptoms. A major outbreak in North Korea could have devastating 
consequences because of its broken health care system and a chronic lack of 

   North Korea has previously mentioned a restriction on entering the sea. 
Sunday's report came after South Korea's spy service told lawmakers Friday that 
the North's anti-virus steps included a ban on fishing and salt production at 
sea, as well as and the lockdown of the capital, Pyongyang, northern Jagang 
province and other areas.

   Lawmakers who attended the closed-door briefing also cited the National 
Intelligence Service as saying that North Korea executed an official for 
breaching regulations restricting the import of goods in August and a money 
changer for a falling exchange rate in October.

   Ha Tae-keung, one of the lawmakers, quoted the agency as saying North Korean 
leader Kim Jong Un is displaying "excessive anger" and taking "irrational 
measures" over the pandemic and its economic impact.

   In September, South Korea accused North Korea of fatally shooting a South 
Korean fishery official found in the North's waters before burning his body 
apparently in line with an anti-virus policy that involves shooting anyone 
illegally crossing the border. North Korea later acknowledged and apologized 
for the killing, but claimed it only burnt his floating device, not his body.

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