NEW YORK, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- North Korea's top envoy to the United Nations said Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un fended off the COVID-19 pandemic in his country, as controversy grows in the South over a North Korean decision to shoot and kill a South Korean citizen in North Korean territory.
Ambassador Kim Song said before the 75th U.N. General Assembly the "far-sighted leadership" of the North Korean leader enabled the regime to bring the virus under "safe and stable control."
The North Korean diplomat did not disclose any health data. He also declined to say there have been "zero" cases of the coronavirus, a frequently issued claim in the first half of the year.
Kim Song instead said Kim Jong Un's "extraordinary wisdom and strong determination" enabled the country of 25 million to take "pre-emptive measures" to "prevent the inflow and spread of the pandemic."
North Korea took a "series of state measures to block the virus inflow into the country," the ambassador said.
The North Korean people "adhered strictly" to anti-epidemic measures. The state also does not tolerate the slightest oversight, Kim Song said.
The North Korean envoy's claims about the pandemic in his country comes at a time when some politicians in South Korea are demanding more answers on the recent death of a South Korean officer in the North. The man may have been shot and possibly burned because of draconian measures against COVID-19 in the country, South Korean news services reported last week.
Political friction is growing within the South. The administration in Seoul has called for a cooperative joint investigation with the North. Seoul has also said there is evidence the 47-year-old South Korean victim had voluntarily defected by sea, the same day his brother, Lee Rae-jin, said his brother was a patriotic public servant and that the government was framing him.
On Tuesday, Kim Song told a sparsely attended General Assembly in New York his country is under a growing nuclear threat, reversing the claims of the international community that Pyongyang continues to build weapons of mass destruction.
"The nuclear threat [against North Korea] continues unabated along with hostile acts before our very eyes," Kim Song said.
"It is an undeniable reality of today that cutting-edge military hardware, including stealth fighters, continue to be introduced into the Korean Peninsula."
Kim Song also said the conclusion North Korea has drawn is that "peace never comes by itself, by the mere wish of one's side." The ambassador also referred to Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal as an "effective deterrent for self-defense" realized through sacrifices, or the "tightening of our belts."
"Peace is now firmly defended," Kim Song said.
The North Korean ambassador also mentioned his country's preparations for a major anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, and that Pyongyang's "socialist construction" moves ahead despite the challenges.
"Great projects are being completed one after another...with brilliant labor achievement," Kim Song said, adding the Pyongyang General Hospital, a "modern medical facility," is in its final stages before completion.
"Although we have suffered considerable losses, we are vigorously striving to stabilize in a short period of time," the ambassador said, referring to recent floods that destroyed farms and upended entire villages.
Analysts have said North Korea is expected to showcase its latest intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine-launched ballistic missile at the military parade on Oct. 10.