North Korea has delayed the opening of schools, following possible indications of a coronavirus outbreak following recent events celebrating the Workers' Party Foundation Day on October 10, according to a new report this week by Daily NK.
The report states that the start of school has been delayed until November 1.
The reported outbreak follows Party Foundation Day, an annual holiday in North Korea that celebrates the founding of that nation’s ruling political party. Many students had participated in the ceremonies, as part of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards or Red Guard Youth. This year, Party Foundation Day was celebrated for the 75th time.
“The number of fever patients has risen nationwide since the Party Foundation Day events, and Central Anti-epidemic Committee figures suggest that 18% of those who have symptoms are students,” the publication’s source, based in North Pyongan Province, said of the outbreak. Some schools, in fact, had suspended classes so that students could prepare for their participation in the Foundation Day ceremonies.
“On the afternoon of Oct. 12, the education ministry instructed provincial education departments not to open schools because a decision [on when to open schools] would be reached on the weekend. Then, yesterday morning [Oct. 15], it suddenly handed down another directive for schools to open on Nov. 1.”
The report also said that North Korean children are not expected to have a winter break this year, due to the delay. And parents aren’t any happier about that news than many are in the United States.
“Parents have just been tolerating the fact that the border remains closed and no more smuggling is allowed, but now that the authorities are saying classes will resume without a winter vacation during the coldest months [of the year], they are sighing and commenting that they will again have to [give money to the schools] to prepare for the winter months,” Daily NK quoted its source as saying.
Daily NK is a publication based in South Korea that reports on goings-on in North Korea. It published in both Korean and English. Daily NK, per its FAQ page, “has never been ‘run’ by defectors, although the organization hires journalists who are originally from North Korea and have settled in South Korea.”
The same publication reported earlier this month that, in preparation for Party Foundation Day, the North Korean government had “increased the number of checkpoints and inspectors at internal boundaries nationwide.”
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un held an historic pair of summits with President Trump in 2018 and 2019, although the diplomatic opening did not lead to any permanent agreement.
The military parade held as part of Party Foundation Day was seen by observers as a message by that nation for the United States to not ignore North Korea, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.