North Korea

North Korea: The mystery of its Covid outbreak

The BBC has pieced together information, through conversations with people who have managed to contact those living in North Korea, and by using publicly available resources.

Voices inside North Korea

Kim Hwang-sun was sitting alone in his kitchen in Seoul when his phone rang. It was a Chinese broker with the news he'd been waiting for. His family could talk.

It has been 10 years since Hwang-sun escaped North Korea alone. His two children, grandchildren and his 85-year-old mother are all still there, and he's given up hope of ever getting them out.

North Korea reports first Covid-19 outbreak, orders lockdown in 'gravest emergency'

The first public admission of Covid infections highlights the potential for a major crisis in a country that has refused to accept international help with vaccination and shut down its borders.

As of March, no cases of Covid-19 have been reported, according to the World Health Organization, and there is no official record of any North Koreans having been vaccinated.

North Korea missile tests: Biggest launch since 2017

It said the ballistic missile was an intermediate range Hwasong-12.

Japan and South Korea said it reached a maximum altitude of 2,000km before coming down in the Sea of Japan. Both countries have condemned the launch, the seventh test this month.

The UN prohibits North Korea from ballistic and nuclear weapons tests, and has imposed strict sanctions.

But the East Asian state regularly defies the ban, and leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to bolster his country's defences.

North Korea confirms 'successful' submarine-launched missile test

North Korea's KCNA news agency said the missile had "lots of advanced control guidance technologies", and was fired from the same vessel as in a 2016 test.

It did not mention leader Kim Jong-un, suggesting he did not attend the test.

On Tuesday, South Korea's military reported an apparent weapons test in waters off Japan's coast.

North Korea has carried out a flurry of missile tests in recent weeks, including of what it said were hypersonic and long-range weapons.

Some of these tests violate strict international sanctions.

North Korea says it fired new 'hypersonic missile'

State media said the new missile was one of the "five most important" new weapons systems laid out in its five-year military development plan.

They called the missile a "strategic weapon", which usually means it has nuclear capabilities.

Tuesday's launch is another indication of Pyongyang's growing weapons technology amid strict sanctions.

"The development of this weapons system...[has increased] the nation's capabilities for self-defence in every way," North Korean state news outlet KCNA said.

North Korea tests ballistic missiles amid deadlocked nuclear talks

Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.

The negotiations, initiated between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.

N.Korea test-fires long-range cruise missile amid stalled talks with US

The missiles flew 1500 km before hitting their targets and falling into the country's territorial waters during the tests held on Saturday and Sunday, KCNA said.

It was seen as the North's first missile launch after it tested a new tactical short-range ballistic missile in March. North Korea also conducted a cruise missile test just hours after US President Joe Biden took office in late January.

North Korea warns young people against using slang from the South

There were also fresh warnings in North Korea's official newspaper against adopting the fashions, hairstyles and music of South Korea.

It is part of a sweeping new law which seeks to stamp out any kind of foreign influence, with harsh penalties.

Those found in breach of the law can face jail or even execution.

Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned millennials of the dangers of following South Korean pop culture.

Russia offers North Korea Covid vaccines again as crisis worsens

Pyongyang has refused vaccines and aid from a number of countries.

It has instead sealed borders to try and keep the virus out but that has affected trade with China. It relies on Beijing for food, fertiliser and fuel.

Kim Jong-un has acknowledged that the country is facing food shortages, describing the situation as "tense".

He made the comments last month and also told citizens to prepare for the "worst ever outcome" which has invoked comparisons to a deadly famine in the 1990s.

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

Pyongyang is banned from testing ballistic missiles, considered threatening weapons, under UN Security Council resolutions.

Both Japan and South Korea have condemned the test.

It comes just days after North Korea reportedly fired two non-ballistic missiles into the Yellow Sea.

Japan said no debris had fallen within its territorial waters.