Seoul: After more than three years of strict measures to combat the virus, North Korea has reopened its borders. The country has lifted the ban that prevented its citizens abroad from returning due to Covid-19 concerns, as reported by state media on Sunday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korean citizens residing abroad are now permitted to come back home. This decision comes as North Korea adapts its anti-epidemic measures to the improved global pandemic situation.
The Korean Central News Agency mentioned that individuals returning home will undergo a proper medical observation period in quarantine facilities for a week. Yonhap news agency, quoting KCNA, provided this information.
This action follows North Korea’s recent resumption of commercial flights with China and Russia, ending over three years of closed borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Air Koryo, the national carrier of North Korea, operated flights from Pyongyang to Beijing and Vladivostok last week, bringing back North Korean residents from these places.
The lifting of the entry ban is expected to lead to the return of more North Korean diplomats, laborers, and students who were staying in other countries.
In January 2020, North Korea initially closed its border and then imposed stringent “maximum emergency anti-epidemic” measures in May 2022 when it reported its first Covid-19 case. Although North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared victory over the Covid-19 crisis in August of the previous year, asserting an end to the pandemic in the country, North Korea maintained its tight border closure and only resumed cargo operations with China and Russia by train and truck last year.
In July, North Korea made headlines by inviting senior officials from China and Russia to its military parade, marking the first known foreign visitors since the border closure. Furthermore, North Korean taekwondo athletes crossed into China earlier this month to participate in the ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships in Kazakhstan.
The North has also registered seven judokas to compete in the upcoming Asian Games scheduled to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8.