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The Nikkei View

Beware North Korea taking advantage of coronavirus chaos

Pandemic must not be catalyst for regional disorder

The three-week disappearance by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from the public scene has fueled much speculation regarding his health and highlighted how the COVID-19 outbreak may potentially destabilize the region. Japan, the U.S. and South Korea must not allow regional stability to fall to the wayside because of the pandemic.

Rumors that Kim Jong Un was in critical condition -- or even dead -- have been quelled for now by his appearance in the North Korean media. But questions remain on how well the world's major powers shared information and coordinated with each other on identifying the whereabouts of Kim, who is capable of launching nuclear weapons with the push of a button.

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