Coronavirus originated in China, and North Korea shares a long border with the country. Therefore, to prevent the spread of the infection, North Korea closed its border with China at the first instance.

China is its ally and an important trade partner. Obviously, businesses on both sides of the border suffered, and Pyongyang has had second thoughts. It is reopening its borders as its fragile economy is on shaky ground. The two-year lockdown brought its economy to the brink of collapse. North Korea resumed freight train traffic into China last week.

Trade between the two countries dropped drastically during the period of its closure of the borders.

In spite of the critical state of its economy, the hermit kingdom launched two short-range ballistic missiles recently. This happened to be the sixth missile test conducted this month. In the opinion of analysts, these are exercises to grab attention. However, a professor in international affairs in Seoul feels Pyongyang is in an arms race with Seoul. In his words, Kim Jong-un's regime is developing a wide variety of offensive weapons even though its resources are limited, and it faces economic challenges.

The U.S. wants North Korea to engage in dialogue

The United States, while condemning the launch, said it does not pose any immediate threat.

It believes in a diplomatic approach to resolving issues and wants North Korea to dialogue. As far as trade with China goes, the movement of a freight train between the neighbors has resumed. The authorities have earmarked an airfield to disinfect imported supplies like medicine and food. China's foreign ministry indicated trade across the border would continue as long as pandemic controls remain.

Officials in South Korea feel there is a lack of clarity on whether the North will fully reopen land-based trade with China. Moreover, the trade volume might be less than that of the pre-pandemic levels.

North Korea insists it has had zero virus infections

The virus from China left a trail of death worldwide, but the North insists it has had zero virus infections.

It took a tough stand to ensure a virus-free environment. The actions included banning cross-border traffic and trade, banning tourists, and banishing diplomats. It seems there were orders to shoot trespassers on sight. A think tank in Seoul says the North could become the only country in the world "without a real plan."

Chinese brokers expect a resumption of regular trade with North Korea soon

A train from North Korea came to a border town in China. It sent positive signals to the business community. A Chinese commodities trader told a section of the media: "My business partner in North Korea told me on Friday that the land border will reopen to cargo freight on Jan. 17." The word spread fast, and the whole import-export community began to draw up plans for cargo movement.

There are photos in the social media of freight carriages taken inside a railway station. China has not officially announced the reopening of the border. This is because earlier reports did not materialize. A news agency of Japan confirmed the arrival of a train, citing an informed source. North Korea has received some humanitarian aid. However, the supply of food continues to remain blocked as per directives of the United Nations.