Eight Russian employees of the Russian embassy had to leave Pyongyang, North Korea along with their families due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They spent 32 hours traveling on the country’s rail system before taking a bus to the border for another two hours.
It was the only way the diplomats and their families could leave North Korea. To push their luggage the rest of the way from the border, they ordered a railroad trolley.
One of the diplomats was Vladislav Sorokin, the third secretary of the Russian embassy in North Korea. The youngest in his group was his 3-year-old daughter Varya Sorokin.
Sorokin had to push the railcar for 0.6 miles until they reached the railway station in Khasan, Primorsky Krai, Russia. His colleagues from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs met them at the station and helped them get to the airport in Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai.
North Korea restricted travel during the outbreak of SARS in 2003 and the West African Ebola virus epidemic in 2014. In 2020, the country cut almost all of its connections with other countries in an effort to keep its territory free from COVID-19.
A source told Daily NK that 180 North Korean soldiers died in January 2020 and February 2020 while around 3,700 others were under quarantine. According to the source, there were too many bodies to be cremated in the military and they did not want news of the cremations to leak outside the military.
On April 1, 2020, North Korea’s State Hygienic Control Board president Pak Myong Su claimed that the country had still no COVID-19 infection. “If such a virus spreads in our country with a small population and a small territory, a serious disaster could not be avoided, in which thousands or tens of thousands of people are deprived of their lives,” Kyodo News quoted him as saying in Pyongyang.
A directly administered city, Pyongyang is the home to the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. The city is twinned with Algiers, Algeria; Baghdad, Iraq; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kathmandu, Nepal; Moscow, Russia and Tianjin, China.