- North Korea began its Covid vaccine programme — though it's currently only for soldiers, RFA said.
- Broadcast vehicles are calling the vaccines an "immortal potion of love" from Kim Jong Un.
- As of Thursday, North Korea has recorded more than 3.2 million cases of "fever" and 69 deaths.
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Covid-stricken North Korea has finally begun its vaccination programme — calling the Covid-19 jabs an "immortal potion of love" from their leader Kim Jong Un, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
However, the vaccines are so far reserved only for soldiers working on national construction projects, according to the US-funded non-profit media outlet.
Two anonymous sources provided details to RFA, describing how to broadcast vehicles would play loudspeaker messages at vaccination sites, highlighting how the vaccines were "a gracious gift" from Kim.
"They play loud political propaganda messages as the soldiers get injected with the vaccines from China," an unnamed government official told the outlet.
"They are calling it a 'vaccination of love from the Highest Dignity,'" he said, using the honorific term for the country's leader.
Another source, a resident, appeared to confirm this to RFA. "A broadcast vehicle that appeared at the vaccination site loudly proclaimed the greatness of the general secretary, who prepared for them the 'Immortal Potion of Love," she said.
The resident told RFA that the vaccines were imported from China but did not specify the type of vaccine.
The hermit kingdom confirmed its first-ever Covid case on May 12, and Kim Jong Un initially criticised his officials for the country's poor response to the virus. In the days since, however, North Korean state media has maintained the "much-disputed claim" that its Covid wave is subsiding, per Associated Press.
Experts feared that the Covid outbreak would become a significant disaster, given how the country had been entirely unvaccinated. Last September, North Korea rejected nearly three million doses of Sinovac from China, asking for them to be sent to countries that needed it more.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden said North Korea did not respond to a US offer of Covid vaccines, per the BBC.
Now that a vaccine program appears to have begun in the country, some soldiers were seen raising their hands in praise of Kim, the resident told RFA.
But other citizens are unhappy that they have yet to get the jab, she said. "People saw the scenes of the emotional soldiers, singing, weeping, and shouting 'Manse!' but they looked on emotionless," she said.
Manse, which means 10,000 years in Korean, can be translated here to mean "long live Kim Jong Un."
As of Thursday, the total number of "fevered persons" in North Korea topped 3.2 million, and 69 people have died, according to the state news agency KCNA. The country has yet to refer to this "fever" outbreak as Covid-19, as poor testing capabilities have hindered its ability to diagnose cases, per the BBC.