The Wall Street JournalThe Wall Street Journal

Kim Jong Un’s Covid-era power faces test as North Korea ends isolation

By Timothy W. Martin and Dasl Yoon

23 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. The pandemic, while severely impacting North Korea's economy, strengthened Kim Jong Un's grip on the nation, consolidating his control amidst strict Covid isolation measures.

SEOUL—The pandemic leveled North Korea’s economy, stoked fear inside the country and threatened the livelihood of Kim Jong Un.

But the fears produced a societal, economic and informational paralysis that worked to Kim’s advantage—and as North Korea unwinds one of the world’s longest periods of strict Covid isolation, the 39-year-old dictator finds himself more in control than ever.

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