Seoul: Reopening its border following more than three years of its stringent virus restrictions, North Korea has lifted an entry ban imposed on its citizens staying abroad over Covid-19 concerns, state media reported Sunday.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korean “citizens abroad have been allowed to return home,” as it has decided to “adjust the anti-epidemic degree in reference to the eased worldwide pandemic situation.”
“It added that those who return home will be put under “proper medical observation at quarantine wards for a week,” Yonhap news agency reoprted quoting KCNA.
The move came after North Korea resumed commercial flights with China and Russia last week following more than three years of border closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flights operated by Air Koryo, North Korea’s national carrier, arrived in Beijing and Vladivostok from Pyongyang last week, bringing the North’s people staying there back home.
With the lifting of the entry ban, more North Korean diplomats, laborers and students staying in foreign nations are expected to come back to the North.
North Korea, which closed its border in January 2020, imposed “maximum emergency anti-epidemic” measures in May 2022, when the country reported its first COVID-19 case.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared victory against the COVID-19 crisis in August last year, claiming an end to the pandemic in the country. But North Korea had maintained its tight border closure while only resuming cargo operations by train and truck with China and Russia last year.
In July, the secretive regime invited senior Chinese and Russian officials to its military parade, marking the country’s first known foreign visitors since Pyongyang’s border shutdown.
North Korean buses carrying dozens of its taekwondo athletes also crossed the border 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 Asian Games to be held in Hangzhou, China, from September 23-October 8.