North Korea usually unveils new advanced weapons during their military parades. Last month on September 9, North Korea held a military parade to mark the 73rd anniversary of the nation’s establishment. This recent military parade was the third one during the year 2021. However, North Korea did not unveil any new nuclear weapons this time, which was odd and unlike the previous military parades and practices.
Aside from that, one of the fascinating things during the military parade was Kim Jong Un’s, North Korea’s Supreme Leader’s weight loss. He had a slimmer appearance which made the North Korean citizens speculate that the Supreme Leader was intensely feeling the impact of the economic crisis brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. You know it’s bad the only guy in the country allowed seconds is starving.
Effect of COVID-19 And UN Sanctions in North Korea
Following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, which emanated from North Korea’s neighboring country – China, North Korea has shut down its borders since January 2020. The nation has established border teams that operate under a ferocious shoot-to-kill policy to deter migration and trade transactions across the borders. This resolution and response to the COVID-19 pandemic have isolated North Korea and resulted in food shortages as numerous trade activities are blocked.
At the same time, North Korea is prominent for launching ballistic missiles during its annual military parades. Such nuclear launches are against the United Nations, and as a result, North Korea faces tough international sanctions and trade embargos. These international sanctions have exacted a heavy toll on the North Korean economy as they limit the trade of arms, military equipment, metals, vehicles and dual-use technologies.
Aside from that, the imposed international sanctions and trade embargos have capped imports of refined petroleum products, natural gas, and oil; hence, production costs have increased expeditiously. The United Nations measures have banned United Nations members from opening bank accounts and banking offices in North Korea, limiting international investors in North Korea. The United Nation members have also been restricted from technical and scientific cooperation with North Korea.
The COVID-19 pandemic coupled with the international sanctions and trade embargos has led bilateral trade with China to plummet more than 80% in 2019. Furthermore, North Korea’s trade volume, which made up to 21.9% of the Gross Domestic Product in 2016, sharply plummeted to 2.9% in 2020 after the border closure and COVID-19 lockdown impact.
Impact Of the United States’ Sanctions Against North Korea
The United States of America has also levied unilateral sanctions on North Korea that have restricted the country’s economic activity and affected North Koreans, international investors, and their jobs. The united states’ unilateral sanctions are contained in a legislative document – The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act.
The Act provides that the United States can freeze the assets of any individual, organization, business, or company that trades with North Korea. The United States government is also allowed to seize any property belonging to the North Korean government if it is under their jurisdiction. Aside from that, the sanctions are designed to restrict sources of revenue and fuel that are vital for North Korea’s nuclear program.
Despite the international sanctions and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of them have deterred North Korea in its endeavor of developing missiles and nuclear technology. Without the capacity to generate hard currency through exporting goods and importing necessary capital resources, the North Korean citizens have suffered food shortages and volatility. Aside from that, the process of domestic products has been consistently higher hence, threatening North Korea’s national security.
Given North Korea’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a meaningful reduction in the foreign diplomatic presence and foreign missions. Unless North Korea opens up its borders, the country will have to recourse to rigorous and draconian campaigns to cater to its economic problems.