Pak Myong Ho, a North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs, was recently punished by a stern warning for disregarding the government’s disease control measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Daily NK has learned.
A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Jan. 29 that “Pak was subject to a severe warning for two months because he abused his power and behaved in an undisciplined manner despite the COVID-19 crisis.”
Pak, who is considered a China expert, had previously served as a minister at North Korea’s embassy in China and as a temporary charge d’affaires. He was promoted to vice minister of the Asia department in the foreign ministry in June of last year.
According to the source, Pak has received recognition from the state for his accomplishments. The Central Committee reportedly even considered him “a person who was good at his job.”
However, Pak was recently criticized by members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for “neglecting the pandemic situation” and behaving in an “undisciplined manner” while “taking advantage of the Party’s trust.”
“In accordance with the national quarantine policy, foreign embassies have been designated as emergency quarantine zones and social distancing measures have been imposed,” the source told Daily NK. “Pak nonetheless arbitrarily contacted foreigners in Pyongyang, [and was subsequently] reported to the party committee of the foreign ministry for his violation of national quarantine policy.”
As a consequence, he was subject to two months of punishment (in the form of a “severe warning”) – from Dec. 1 to the end of this month – for disobeying the government’s quarantine rules, such as contacting many people while visiting foreign embassies during an emergency quarantine.
In their condemnation of Pak, the North Korean authorities pointed out that foreign ministry employees are frequently acting like privileged people. The authorities also condemned trade officials on the Sino-North Korean border for their “undisciplined behavior.” They further emphasized that anyone who acts in an undisciplined manner will not avoid punishment.
The authorities also ordered all trade-related workers on the border to return to Pyongyang, saying that they must be strictly controlled because the activities they conduct near the border to earn foreign currency could cause a “major disaster” in the country.