SEOUL, June 30 (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the failure to implement measures to tackle the coronavirus had caused a “great crisis” and he chastised ruling party officials for risking the safety of the country and people, state media reported on Wednesday.
The report by state news agency KCNA did not elaborate on the nature of the crisis or how it put people at risk.
North Korea has not officially confirmed any COVID-19 cases, a position questioned by South Korean and U.S. officials. But the reclusive country has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.
Kim called a meeting of the Workers’ Party of Korea politburo to address some party executives’ neglect of duty, including failing to implement important long-term measures to fight the pandemic, the KCNA state news agency said.
“He mentioned that senior officials in charge of important state affairs neglected the implementation of the important decisions of the Party … and thus caused a crucial case of creating a great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people and entailed grave consequences,” the news agency said.
Several politburo members, secretaries of the central committee, and officials of several state agencies were replaced at the meeting, though KCNA did not specify if the shakeups were related to the neglect of pandemic-related duty.
When asked about Kim’s remarks, South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-kun said officials in Seoul were aware of the report but had nothing to add.