North Korean authorities are spreading medically unproven information throughout the country as part of efforts to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Daily NK has learned. 

Some recommendations government officials have been providing to ordinary people to prevent coronavirus infections include eating soy bean paste and kimchi, a Kangwon Province-based source told Daily NK on Mar. 30. 

North Korea recommended its citizens eat kimchi to prevent infection during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

There is little solid evidence that food such as kimchi can prevent people from contracting COVID-19 and even South Korea’s Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) recently dismissed such rumors. 

North Korean officials are also reportedly encouraging their citizens to consume health supplements. North Korean media outlet Arirang Meari recently promoted the use of ginseng and burdock roots for their immune boosting and antiviral properties. 

Daily NK sources suggested that North Korean authorities are focusing efforts on strengthening the immunity of their population given that the country’s healthcare system is in shambles. 

In fact, as Daily NK has long reported, ordinary North Korean citizens have stopped relying upon the state healthcare system and generally prefer to seek out treatments for themselves.

Meanwhile, the North Korean authorities are placing continued emphasis on providing health information and education to citizens.

“The party is stepping up its efforts to promote proper hygiene in relation to the coronavirus,” a source stated. “Recently, meetings and education sessions have been held to provide citizens with intensive and substantial health information, in accordance with party guidelines.”

Various tuberculosis and pneumonia treatments along with ginseng injections are also reportedly popular among consumers at the country’s local markets, sources told Daily NK.

The Global Tuberculosis Report 2019, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), ranked North Korea among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of numbers of sufferers from TB and MDR-TB (multiple drug resistant TB). The report estimated there are roughly 5,200 people suffering from MDR-TB within the country. 

*Translated by Kathryn Beaver

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to