North Korea claims there are no instances of coronavirus in the country. It seems it has a "shoot-to-kill" policy to prevent the entry of any possible victim. It seems troops of the North shot dead an official of the South and set fire to the body. Seoul says the individual worked for the fisheries department. He disappeared from a patrol boat near the border and subsequently turned up in the North's waters. The 47-year-old wore a life jacket and might have had intentions of defecting. He died after North Korean soldiers shot him. The defense ministry of the South has condemned the "brutal act" while Pyongyang has maintained silence.

North Korea has been saying that there is no instance of the disease in its country from day one. Its origin was in China, and that led North Korea to seal its border with China at the first opportunity. Both the countries share a long border, and closing the entry points might have helped check the disease's spread. However, the move backfired because the North's economy depends on trade with China, its main ally. The BBC says this killing incident would be the second one in which troops of North Korea shot and killed a South Korean civilian. The earlier one was in July 2008. The victim was a tourist shot dead by a soldier at Mount Kumgang.

This could affect relations between North Korea and the South

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea described the killing as a "shocking" incident. He also said that such a killing is intolerable and wants the North to take necessary measures. The National Security Council added that it would be difficult for Pyongyang to justify killing an unarmed citizen.

The BBC quotes Secretary-General of the National Security Council saying - "This military action is in violation of international regulations. We will firmly respond to any action by North Korea that threatens the life and safety of our people."

North Korea had disconnected the hotline

There used to be a military hotline between the two Koreas.

North Korea destroyed the inter-Korean liaison office and disconnected the hotline in June. Hence, the options of a regular channel of communication do not exist. However, the military of South Korea might have evolved some method to keep track of activities of the North. The BBC adds that North Korea is determined to ensure a country free from the Coronavirus pandemic. The hermit kingdom has plans to hold a massive military parade on 10 October. The occasion would be the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the ruling Workers' Party. It could pose a significant risk given the virus.

Unification efforts between North Korea and the South affected

According to CNN, an official of the Unification Ministry says - the incident "throws cold water on our consistent patience and effort for inter-Korean reconciliation and peace and it goes directly against our people's yearning for peace on Korean Peninsula." It seems a North Korean patrol vessel opened fire on an attempted defector of the South and killed him.

Later, a soldier in a gas mask and hazard suit set fire to the body. Such apparel is usually associated with handling contagious diseases like coronavirus. There has been an escalation of tension between the two countries. South Korean President Moon Jae-in held meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to ease tensions. There were also summits between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore, Hanoi, and the DMZ. However, these failed to defuse tension due to a clash of priorities. The US President wanted denuclearization in the Korean peninsula while the leader of North Korea wanted relief from sanctions.

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