Kim Jong Un places economy, food shortage at center of policy meeting
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed domestic issues such as the economy and the country’s food shortage at the center of his remarks during the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee’s plenary meeting this week, according to North Korean state media, The Washington Post reported.
The five-day meeting occurred around the 10th anniversary of the North Korean leader taking power following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, according to Reuters.
In the past, per the wire service, Kim has made significant policy announcements around the new year, including about foreign policy. But instead of focusing on South Korea or the United States, this year he highlighted North Korea’s anti-COVID-19 efforts and the “food problems” the country is experiencing during his speech.
According to state media outlet Rodong Sinmun, Kim said he would “boost agricultural production to completely resolve the country’s food problems” and made several references to “severe hardships” relating to the economy, according to the Post.
Reuters noted that some of the goals Kim stated for 2022 would include improving people’s lives within the country and addressing the economy.
“The main task facing our Party and people next year is to provide a sure guarantee for the implementation of the five-year plan and bring about a remarkable change in the state development and the people’s standard of living,” Kim said, according to state media, Reuters reported.
The reports come as North Korea is grappling with the effects of its shuttered borders and its refusal of international aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The circulation of food and imports of farm equipment and other supplies suffered as a result of the harsh measures, The New York Times noted.
South Korean government data indicates that North Korea’s economy plummeted 4.5 percent in 2020 compared to the year prior, the South Korean news agency Yonhap News Agency reported last week, as the Post noted.
Additionally, Yonhap reported that North Korea’s grain production decreased 5.2 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.