North Korea Stops Reclaiming Escaped Citizens From China Due to Coronavirus Fears

By Breitbart. North Korea on Friday temporarily suspended “all air and train routes” to China due to the coronavirus outbreak, in addition to closing off its land border.

Pyongyang has also taken steps to close its border with South Korea, fearing the virus could spread there from China. According to South Koreans who work with North Korean defectors, the North is also temporarily halting the repatriation of defectors due to infection concerns.

Voice of America News reported that North Korea asked South Korea to close the liaison office in the border town of Kaesong and postpone operations to dismantle resort facilities on Mount Kumgang until the Wuhan coronavirus has been “completely erased.”

South Korea is planning to demolish the Mount Kumgang tourist complex on orders from North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, who declared the long-unused resort an “eyesore” with “no national character at all” in October. The resort fell into disuse due to international sanctions and the shooting of a South Korean tourist who wandered off the grounds by a North Korean soldier in 2008.

The movement of people and goods across the North-South Korean border has reportedly halted. South Korean pastor Kim Sung-eun, noted for his work with North Korean refugees, said North Korea has asked China to stop repatriating defectors until the coronavirus epidemic has passed. Chinese sources said they expected even black-market shipping into North Korea would be sharply curtailed, despite serving as a major component of the North Korean economy. (Read more from “North Korea Stops Reclaiming Escaped Citizens From China Due to Coronavirus Fears” HERE)


Washington State Businesses Brace for Impact of the Coronavirus

By The Seattle Times. As worries over the spread of the new coronavirus intensify, many businesses in Washington state said they’re monitoring the situation closely, taking precautions to protect their employees’ health and adjusting other plans.

Some major employers are halting travel or postponing opening new offices in Asia. Real estate brokers say they’re seeing fewer Chinese home shoppers.

And local industries already hard-hit by the U.S.-China trade war, like agriculture and tourism, are forecasting continued strain on profits. Nearly 18 months of retaliatory tariffs have cut exports through Washington state to China, its biggest trading partner, by nearly 40% since 2018.

The coronavirus outbreak — which public health experts predict could soon be a global pandemic — may send trade volumes plummeting further, said J. Norwell Coquillard, executive director of the nonprofit Washington State China Relations Council.

The new coronavirus, which seems to be less lethal than SARS but spreads more easily, has infected more than 17,000 people in at least 23 countries, leaving more than 400 dead, as of Monday. Nearly all the deaths are in China, where the new virus originated. (Read more from “Washington State Businesses Brace for Impact of the Coronavirus” HERE)

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