May 19 (UPI) -- The Russian Embassy in North Korea said foreigners are being allowed entry into department stores in Pyongyang, while crediting the Kim Jong Un regime with effective COVID-19 prevention.
In a Facebook post published Monday, the diplomatic mission in the North Korean capital said the North Korean foreign ministry notified all embassies and international organizations of the new policy.
Foreign residents in North Korea are once again permitted to enter major stores, including Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, Pyongyang Station Department Store, Pyongyang Children's Department Store, Kwangbok Department Store and the Potong River Department Store.
The statement from the Russian Embassy comes after North Korea confirmed it had lifted some restrictions against foreigners in April. Following the declaration of a national emergency, North Korea had banned foreign residents from visiting any stores, restaurants or marketplaces carrying essential goods.
The Russian Embassy's update on developments in Pyongyang follow the publication of photographs of Pyongyang residents, including foreign nationals, shopping at various department stores in the capital. The photographs were published by DPRK Today, a North Korean propaganda service.
In early February, North Korea suspended most air and train operations to and from China and Russia, the regime's two principal trading partners. Pyongyang also required any diplomats remaining in the country to go into monthlong quarantine.
The Russian Embassy said last week Moscow delivered 25,000 tons of wheat to North Korea, citing food shortages in the country.
On Tuesday, Pyongyang's state media claimed the country was making progress in "food self-reliance."
"If you see any fields and paddies and sit down with farmers, you can find a very high level of spirit," a Korean Workers' Party official said, according to the Rodong Sinmun on Monday.
North Korea may be facing a serious food shortage. According to South Korea's unification ministry on Tuesday, the North could face an 860,000-ton grain shortage this year, according to Yonhap.