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North Korea’s H1N1 Watch: Isolation Vs. Contagion

December 16, 2009

For a country that appears to be so isolated from the outside world, North Korea seems to have been on edge for months regarding the possible impact of swine flu (H1N1) on its population. These rumors of North Korean anxiety have been underscored by an unusual admission last week of nine confirmed cases of swine flu in Pyongyang and Sinuiju (the WHO has reported that all nine have recovered), but these cases may be the tip of the iceberg. North Korea’s admission has prompted a South Korean offer to supply 500,000 doses of Tamiflu to the North and an unusual North Korean acceptance of the South’s offer on Thursday, December 10.

If negotiators can agree on how the assistance will be delivered, South Korea’s delivery of the medicine will mark the first case in which the North has actually accepted assistance from the Lee Myung-bak administration.

Read the full piece in the Council on Foreign Relations blog Asia Unbound.

Scott Snyder directs The Asia Foundation’s Center for U.S.-Korea Policy. He can be reached at

View all posts by Scott Snyder


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