South Korean troops have a new enemy to watch out for: diseased pigs stumbling and swimming across from North Korea.
After reports of an outbreak of African swine fever in North Korea in May, soldiers along the border were ordered to capture or shoot wild boars heading into South Korea. Officials set traps, inspected 160 miles of border fence and raised the reward for finding a dead boar.
The efforts didn’t stop the virus. Beginning in September, South Korea has found animals with the disease on 13 farms and culled all pigs within a roughly two-mile radius of each. The government said it would also cull all pigs in two cities near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.
Estimated number of pigs dead from African
Swine Fever or destroyed
to curb the spread of
5 million destroyed
1.17 million destroyed
25,000 dead or destroyed
3,115 dead or destroyed
As of Monday, 145,000 pigs had been culled since South Korea reported its first African swine fever case last month, in an effort to halt the spread of the virus.
It is a messy example of how the failure of the two Koreas to collaborate on everyday issues can bring problems beyond diplomatic deadlock.
Pyongyang has ignored repeated offers from Seoul to help fight the disease, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said—a contrast from 2007, when the two Koreas worked together to curb foot-and-mouth disease, which affects cattle and swine. Last year, the two Koreas agreed to strengthen cooperation to curb contagious diseases during South Korean President
historic visit to Pyongyang.
Pyongyang no longer pays much attention to Seoul now that it can engage directly with the U.S. and China, said Cheon Seong-whun, a former South Korean National Security Council official. “This is a fundamental shift in North-South relations,” he said.
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