SEOUL, South Korea — (AP) — North Korea and China resumed freight train service Monday after a five-month hiatus, South Korean officials said, as North Korea struggles to revive a country hit by the pandemic, U.N. sanctions and other factors. economy.
The reopening comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dubiously claimed last month that he had overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and ordered an easing of restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said it assessed the restart of North Korea-China freight rail services on Monday, although neither Beijing nor Pyongyang confirmed this. Spokesman Cho Joonghoon said it remains to be seen how long the train service will continue and what cargo will be diverted.
Earlier on Monday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said it had seen a freight train with more than 10 carriages leave the Chinese border city of Dandong and cross a railway bridge into the North Korean city of Sinuiju.
Kim Eul-chul, a professor at Kyungnam University’s Farr Institute, said Kim may want to import consumer goods, materials needed to build homes in Pyongyang and modernize factories in rural areas, and other items related to his desire to improve public livelihoods. Seoul Oriental Studies.
Lim said the Dandong-Sinuiju railway has handled more than 70 percent of official trade between the two countries. There are no reports that other cross-border rail or trucking routes have reopened.
In April, China said it had halted traffic on the Dandong-Sinuiju freight train due to the spread of COVID-19 in Dandong. In early January, the two countries reopened their railroads after a two-year suspension, while North Korea closed all international borders as part of the world’s toughest restrictions to guard against the pandemic.
China’s porous border with North Korea is North Korea’s economic conduit and last major diplomatic ally. More than 90% of North Korea’s foreign trade is with China. Trade between them is believed to have plummeted during the pandemic, putting further pressure on North Korea’s fragile economy, which has also been hit by sanctions, natural disasters and Kim’s own mismanagement.
Kim Jong Un’s claim to have defeated the pandemic comes just three months after his country first acknowledged an outbreak, following a controversial claim to be coronavirus-free for more than two years.
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