By Christoph Bluth writing for The Conversation
For most of the COVID pandemic, North Korea has taken a different approach to the rest of the world. While other countries locked down and restricted international travel, the North Korean government took its own measures to protect itself, including denying the existence of the virus, refusing donations of vaccines and restricting information to its citizens. In early 2020, North Korea had an advantage compared to other countries: much of the population never interacted with foreigners, as for most people international travel is tightly controlled and only rarely permitted. Even internal travel is heavily restricted, making it more difficult for a disease to spread. Nonetheless the country was not completely isolated, because in the northern region many would illegally cross the border for occasional work in China and then return to North Korea. There was also a great deal of official traffic across the border. But in January 2020, the North Korean leadership completely closed the border and terminated almost all cross-border trade.