Diplomats serving in North Korea are enduring a shortage of goods and a lack of medicine, as restrictions to battle the Covid-19 pandemic have caused the already-secretive country to isolate itself even more than before.
Writing on Facebook, the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang revealed that 38 foreign nationals have recently left their diplomatic missions in the country, with representatives from the likes of the UK, Brazil, and Germany also flying home.
“The exodus of foreigners will continue,” an embassy statement read. “There are now hardly any foreigners left – fewer than 290 in all. One can understand those leaving the Korean capital – not everyone can withstand the unprecedentedly strict total restrictions, the acute shortage of essential goods, including medicines, and the lack of opportunities to solve health problems.”
Only nine ambassadors and four chargé d’affaires now remain inside the country, and most embassies are operating with a skeleton staff. However, despite the troubles facing those from Russia, the whole team is staying put.
“The white, blue and red tricolor still proudly flies over the building of the Russian diplomatic mission in the center of Pyongyang,” the statement continued. “Of course, it is not easy for us as well … but the capacity of the team is maintained in full.”
In February, a video released by Russia’s Foreign Ministry went viral after diplomats based in North Korea were forced to use a hand cart and push it themselves to leave the country.
With Covid-19 restrictions making it harder to travel abroad, the diplomats had to travel 32 hours by train, then another two hours by bus to the border, and then cross the frontier via the aforementioned unusual form of transport.
The North Korean border has been closed since January 2020, and some have claimed the nation’s citizens are subject to the strictest quarantine anywhere in the world. The restrictions are said to have caused significant problems, with six guards defecting to China just last week, citing “hunger and fatigue.” According to official figures, the country has so far recorded no cases of coronavirus.
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