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North Korea - Mysterious flu-like illness spreading, affecting military workers (media report)

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  • North Korea - Mysterious flu-like illness spreading, affecting military workers (media report)

    ‘Fever’ cases spread in North Korea, but hard to say if it’s COVID
    By Jieun Kim and Jamin Anderson for RFA Korean

    A mysterious “fever” has broken out among North Korean “stormtroopers,” or soldiers engaged in construction work, and at least one of them has died from the disease, residents in the country told Radio Free Asia.

    The soldiers are apparently coming down with pneumonia and the flu, residents said.
    The fever seems to be spreading mostly among “stormtroopers,” who work and live together in dormitories near construction sites and therefore can easily spread diseases, said a resident of the northern province of Ryanggang province on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
    “Yesterday morning, near Hyesan Station, a 35-year-old stormtrooper was found dead,” he said. “The young man had been mobilized for road construction in Samjiyon county. He had pneumonia and was hospitalized, but they drove him from the hospital when his symptoms did not improve. He died on the road near Hyesan Station on his way home.”
    A South Korean expert on health in North Korea said identifying the disease was impossible now, but COVID-19 could not be ruled out.

    “I think the flu could be more likely,” said Ahn Kyungsoo, head of, a website that monitors health issues in North Korea. From the perspective of the North Korean authorities, even if it is COVID-19, it is difficult to distinguish it from a cold with body aches.”
    A recent resurgence of COVID-19 in China could easily spread to North Korea, said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director at the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea.
    The World Health Organization did not respond to inquiries from RFA, and UNICEF told RFA that it has not received any report of an increase in fever or COVID-19 cases in the country. The organization said it does not maintain a presence in North Korea but would be willing to return should Pyongyang request it.
    Fever cases have re-emerged in the capital, too, a resident of the northwestern province of North Pyongan said.

    “My acquaintance’s son is serving [as a stormtrooper] in Pyongyang, and he told his parents on the phone that a fever was circulating there,” he said.


    Mysterious Flu-Like Illness Is Spreading Across North Korea; Outbreak Affecting Military Workers

    By Kent Masing
    05/25/23 AT 1:31 AM EDT


    North Korea's "stormtroopers," who work and live together, are suffering from a mysterious "fever"

    A 35-year-old North Korean soldier died from the unknown illness

    Prices of medicines used to treat COVID-19 symptoms have already increased by 20% to 50%


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