In a country where power is concentrated is the hands of a small ruling elite and hospitals often lack even basic supplies, defectors say it’s common for anyone who can to keep stocks of medicine in their homes — and senior officials are typically able to stockpile more than ordinary citizens. Observers also said the donated medicine may have simply come from state storage facilities but was distributed in Kim’s name.
“The outbreak of measles or typhoid isn’t uncommon in North Korea. I think it’s true there is an outbreak of an infectious disease there, but North Korea is using it as an opportunity to emphasize that Kim is caring for his people,” said Ahn Kyung-su, head of DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a website focusing on health issues in North Korea. “So it’s more like a political message than medical one.”