Unlike in previous years, when his New Year’s address focused on his diplomatic policy, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un put the economy at the heart of his speech, reported on Saturday (December 31st). state media. The leader made economic development and the food situation his priority, during a plenary meeting of the Labor Party of Korea, the only party in the country.
The North Korean regime, which is under multiple international sanctions due to the development of banned military programs, suffers from food shortages and struggles to feed its population. The pressure on the North Korean economy has been heightened by the orderly border closures to combat the pandemic.
“It is important to take a decisive step in solving the problems linked to the daily needs of the population”Kim Jong-un said in his speech, according to the official North Korean news agency KCNA.
Risk of famine, according to the UN
North Korea experienced its biggest economic recession in two decades in 2020, according to South Korea’s central bank. The leader admitted in June that his country was facing a “Tense food situation”.
In October, a United Nations human rights expert warned that the most vulnerable were “Threatened with famine”.
The leader, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, ten years ago, announced during his party meeting that the fight against the pandemic was one of the main objectives for the year 2022: “Emergency measures against the epidemic must be placed at the top of national priorities and be vigorously implemented… without the slightest slack, deviation or loophole. “
In his remarks, he did not directly mention the United States or South Korea, merely stating that Pyongyang would continue to strengthen its military capabilities. “The increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean peninsula and the international situation require the strengthening of national defense capabilities”Kim Jong-un, quoted by KCNA, said, did not explain in detail what this means.
The deterioration of the economic situation linked to the pandemic did not prevent Pyongyang from developing its weapons program, according to a United Nations report published in October. Negotiations with the United States have stalled since the failure in 2019 of the meeting between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump.
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In North Korea, Kim Jong-un says food security is his priority