South Korean president expresses willingness to supply COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea

Thursday, June 17, 2021

On Monday, during a state visit by the South Korean president to Austria, president Moon Jae-in said in a joint press conference with Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen, "If North Korea agrees, [we] will push proactively for cooperation on [COVID-19] vaccine supplies for it".

Moon Jae In in 2017.
Image: Blue House.

Austrian President Van der Bellen agreed with Moon, speaking about united efforts of all countries to end the pandemic. He further said, "In case of any signal from North Korea [for requesting help], we will of course help."

The status of COVID-19 in North Korea is unknown, as the regime still claims to have no case of the virus, a claim many foreign observers qualify as untrue. In an article by Daily NK, North Korean military authorities are reportedly "scrambling" to secure any doses of any vaccine to inoculate their military in a "military-first" effort, with multiple sources claiming up to 25% of the military has been placed in quarantine.

In the same article, Chinese medical supplies have reportedly been banned from use in Pyongyang hospitals after the death of an official who had received an injection of Chinese-made medicine. The exclusion of Chinese medicine may have also been applied to Chinese-made vaccines, such as the ones made by Sinovac and Sinopharm, furthered the article.

The visit was the first of its kind, as president Moon is the first South Korean president to make a state visit to Austria since the countries first opened diplomatic relations in 1892. Relations between the two countries will mark their 130th anniversary next year.