[ti:North Korea Weak Link in Fight Against Swine Flu]
[00:00.04]South Korea is creating traps and using unmanned aircraft and expert gunmen
[00:06.93]in an effort to stop wild pigs from spreading the disease swine flu from North Korea.
[00:15.52]African swine flu is deadly to pigs but is not a threat to humans.
[00:23.44]The virus has killed large numbers of pigs in many Asian countries.
[00:30.32]Experts believe wild hogs are a main reason for its spread.
[00:36.80]Officials say North Korea has ignored the South's
[00:41.32]repeated calls for joint efforts to stop the disease.
[00:47.80]South Korea has destroyed about 154,500 pigs in the past month.
[00:56.68]All were taken from farms near the North Korean border.
[01:02.48]North Korea has not released any detailed reports on the disease.
[01:08.51]But South Korea's intelligence agency says
[01:12.69]that pig herds in one North Korea province were almost totally lost.
[01:20.28]North Korea observers in Seoul say pork prices in markets there have increased.
[01:29.64]North Korea first reported an outbreak in May
[01:33.71]after the disease spread widely in neighboring China.
[01:39.80]Chinese officials say farms in the country have slaughtered
[01:44.25]at least 1.17 million pigs in an effort to control the disease since August 2018.
[01:54.20]North Korea told the World Organization for Animal Health
[01:58.91]that 77 of 99 pigs at a farm in Jagang province died of the disease.
[02:07.32]The remaining 22 pigs were destroyed.
[02:11.06]North Korea said it is fighting hard to stop the disease's spread,
[02:17.15]but has not reported any other outbreaks.
[02:21.68]Suh Hoon is director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service.
[02:28.48]He told lawmakers in a private meeting last month
[02:33.09]that African swine flu has spread across North Korea.
[02:39.48]He reportedly added that groups of wild pigs in an area north of the capital, Pyongyang,
[02:46.63]had been "annihilated" and people were complaining about the lack of meat.
[02:53.56]South Korean officials confirmed the first swine flu outbreak
[02:58.47]in the town of Paju on September seventeenth.
[03:03.16]Since then, officials have reported at least 13 more cases.
[03:09.44]Failure to contain the disease would be severely damaging for South Korea's pork industry.
[03:17.36]The situation would be much worse for the North, where food supplies are often limited.
[03:25.72]South Korean officials say North Korea had about 2.6 million pigs
[03:32.48]in 14 government-run or cooperative farms before the disease's outbreak.
[03:38.99]Cho Chung-hui is a former North Korean official in charge of farm animal issues.
[03:47.16]He fled to South Korea in 2011.
[03:52.08]He says pork makes up as much as 80 percent of protein eaten by North Korea's 25 million people.
[04:02.72]Many North Koreans raise and sell a pig or two each year to be able to buy rice.
[04:12.08]Cho said a 100-kilogram hog can be sold to buy about 150 kilograms of rice.
[04:21.04]That is enough for a family for a year.
[04:26.40]He said North Korean animal health officials and farms do not kill animals even if they are sick.
[04:36.12]African swine fever spreads easily through contact with infected animals, animal waste
[04:43.18]and contaminated substances such as food, clothing and vehicles.
[04:50.16]The 248-kilometer border between North and South Korea is the most heavily secured in the world.
[04:58.76]However, South Korean officials and experts say wild pigs
[05:04.04]could still enter in and out of North Korea by swimming across rivers.
[05:11.56]Cho said heavy rains from a powerful ocean storm in September
[05:16.88]likely caused contaminated soil and water from North Korea to enter the South.
[05:25.24]Insects and rats could also spread the virus, he said.
[05:31.76]Whatever the source of the South Korean outbreaks,
[05:35.10]experts say controlling movements of wild pigs is very important.
[05:42.40]I'm Jonathan Evans.