North Korea’s Kim warns of possible food shortage


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is warning of a “tense” food situation in the country and a potential extension of coronavirus restrictions as he looks to improve a deteriorating economy plagued by pandemic border closures and last year’s typhoons. 

The country’s Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Kim during remarks at a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee urged officials to find ways to increase agricultural production amid a potential impending food shortage, according to The Associated Press

The AP added that the state news agency noted that Kim also “set forth the tasks for the state to maintain perfect anti-epidemic state,” signaling that the North Korean leader may be extending the country’s pandemic lockdown. 

While Kim said that total industrial output in the country had increased by 25 percent from a year prior, he added there was “a series of deviations” in the party’s plans to improve the economy. 

“The people’s food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year,” he said during the meeting, according to Reuters

Kim and other party leaders at the meeting recommitted to elements of their five-year plan to improve the country’s economy that was unveiled earlier this year. 

In addition to increasing agricultural production, Kim has also called for further development to North Korea’s chemical and metal industries, which have been hit hard by continued international sanctions, as well as import suspensions throughout the pandemic. 

While it is difficult to measure the true reality of current conditions in North Korea, whose government maintains tight control over information leaving the country, South Korean government think tank Korea Development Institute predicted last month that food shortages in North Korea this year could total up to roughly 1 million tons. 

During the first ruling party congress in five years held in January, Kim admitted failures in the country’s previous five-year plan for economic development, explaining in an address that it had “fallen greatly short of its goals in almost all sectors.”

“We should further promote and expand the victories and successes we have gained at the cost of sweat and blood, and prevent the painful lessons from being repeated,” he said at the time. 

North Korea’s economy has been further crippled by continued sanctions over its nuclear development program.

Former President Trump’s repeated attempts at direct diplomacy with Kim to develop negotiations over the country’s nuclear weapons largely failed. 

President Biden, when announcing the appointment of a special envoy to North Korea last month, said that his administration aimed to establish diplomatic relations with the nation with an “ultimate goal of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Tags coronavirus pandemic Donald Trump food shortage International sanctions Joe Biden Kim Jong Un North Korea Nuclear program of North Korea Reuters South Korea The Associated Press

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