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North Korea's Decision to Allow Citizens Abroad to Return Home Signals Easing of Pandemic Restrictions

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North Korea to Allow Citizens Abroad to Return Home, Signaling Easing of Pandemic Curbs

North Korea announced on Sunday that it will permit its citizens staying abroad to return home, aligning with the global trend of easing pandemic restrictions. The State Emergency Epidemic Prevention Headquarters stated that returnees will undergo a week-long quarantine for medical observation, without providing further details. This move is expected to facilitate the return of North Korean students, workers, and others who have been stranded abroad, particularly in China and Russia. These workers are crucial for the country's foreign income. However, the return of citizens may result in the loss of a rare source of foreign currency, prompting the North Korean government to send new workers to replace them in China and Russia, potentially violating a UN Security Council resolution. The decision to quarantine returnees for a week suggests that North Korea may not resume receiving foreign tourists in the near future. The country is likely to consider reopening its borders to foreigners next year if the return of its nationals does not lead to any COVID-19 outbreaks. While North Korea claimed to have overcome the pandemic in August 2022, it has maintained restrictions on border crossings by individuals, despite resuming freight train service with China.

Implications of North Korea's Easing of Pandemic Curbs on New Businesses

North Korea's recent decision to allow its citizens abroad to return home signals a shift in its pandemic response, potentially impacting new businesses in several ways.

Impact on Labor Market

The return of North Korean workers from abroad, especially from China and Russia, could lead to a significant reshuffling of the labor market. New businesses in these countries may face a sudden labor shortage, compelling them to adjust their hiring strategies or operational plans.

Foreign Currency Dynamics

The return of these workers also means the loss of a rare source of foreign currency for North Korea. In response, the country might send new workers abroad, potentially disrupting the flow of foreign currency and affecting businesses that rely on these remittances.
Border Control and Tourism
North Korea's decision to quarantine returnees for a week suggests that the country is not ready to open its borders to foreign tourists, potentially impacting businesses in the tourism sector. However, if the return of its nationals does not lead to any COVID-19 outbreaks, North Korea might consider reopening its borders to foreigners next year, presenting new opportunities for businesses in the travel and hospitality industries. This development underscores the need for businesses to remain adaptable in the face of changing global circumstances.
Story First Published at: https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/north-korea-to-allow-its-citizens-abroad-to-return-home-a-sign-of-further-easing-of-pandemic-curbs
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