North Korea said on Sunday that it had locked down a city near its border with South Korea and declared a "maximum" national emergency after finding what its leader, Kim Jong-un, said could be the regime's first case of Covid-19 there.
It issued the high alert after a North Korean who had defected to South Korea three years ago but secretly crossed back into the North's Gaeseong City last Sunday was "suspected to have been infected with the vicious virus."
South Korea said the man does not appear to have been infected with Covid-19.
North Korea's first case of Covid-19 or is it? It's the topic of our News In-depth with Christian Taaks, Head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation Korea to my left and Go Myong-hyun, Research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies to my right.
Welcome, gentlemen, to the show.
There have been rumors of Covid-19 cases in North Korea for months, but the state's tightly-controlled society and state media have made them impossible to confirm.
So the announcement that there's a suspected case in Gaeseong comes as something of a surprise.
What is going on? Is there a reason for this change in stance?
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared an emergency and a lockdown in a border town after a person suspected of being infected with the novel coronavirus returned from South Korea after illegally crossing the border.
Could this possibly be an appeal for help?
South Korea has said the man suspected of being North Korea's first confirmed Covid-19 patient did not have the virus. The man apparently defected from North to South three years ago, before seemingly deciding to return last week.
What are your thoughts on this?
North Korea shut its borders in January due to the virus, slamming the brakes on the little legal trade it was afforded due to global sanctions to punish it for its nuclear arms program.
How is the North Korean economy doing amid international sanctions AND Covid 19?
This comes as we mark 67 years since the Korean War armistice - a reminder that the Korean War ended in a casefire and not a peace treaty. There had been talks of an end of war treaty between the U.S. and North Korea and South Korea although South Korea is not a signatory of the Korean War armistice from 67 years ago.
How does North Korea feel about this now?
With the U.S. presidential election now fewer than 100 days away and President Donald Trump not doing so well in ratings polls, what could be North Korea's calculation at this point?
Hold another summit before November or launch another provocation?
Judging from the North's latest moves, what is your forecast of inter-Korean relations and North Korea, U.S. relations for the remainder of the year?
Christian Taaks, Head of Friedrich Naumann Foundation Korea to my left and Go Myong-hyun, Research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, many thanks as always. We appreciate you both.