North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korean showcases shirtless soldiers lying on broken glass, smashing bricks on head North Korea's Kim rips US, promises 'invincible' military North Korea's Kim notes 'grim' economy while marking anniversary of ruling party MORE on Sunday warned officials of his country's "grim" economic state during celebrations to mark the 76th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
Reuters reported Kim told officials to concentrate on improving the living conditions of North Koreans, saying in a speech that the isolationist country faces "huge tasks for adjusting and developing the state economy."
"The only way for dynamically pushing forward the unprecedented crucial work despite grim situation is for the entire Party to get united," he added.
The North Korean leader reportedly cautioned officials against desiring privileges and said they "should always consider whether their work infringe upon the interests of the people or cause trouble to the people."
The country marked the anniversary of the ruling party's founding with galas and fireworks shows, though Reuters noted that no military parades were reported to have been held. State-run media showed young people attending galas and laying flowers at statues of previous leaders.
Earlier this year in April, Kim issued a similar warning, telling citizens that the country could face difficult times like it saw during the 1990s when it endured famines.
Human Right Watch senior researcher Lina Yoon wrote a report in March detailing the food shortages that North Korea is currently facing.
“There is barely any food going into the country from China for almost two months now,” one missionary who helps North Korans told Yoon. “There are so many more beggars, some people died from hunger in the border area and there’s no soap, toothpaste, or batteries.”
Kim's warning on Sunday comes less than a week after Reuters reported that North Korea's most vulnerable are at risk of starvation brought on by the country's COVID-19 isolation and international sanctions. These warnings were made in a report from United Nations rights investigator Tomas Ojea Quintana seen by Reuters. Quintana recommended that U.N. sanctions on North Korea be lifted to relieve starvation risks.
"Sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council should be reviewed and eased when necessary to both facilitate humanitarian and lifesaving assistance and to enable the promotion of the right to an adequate standard of living of ordinary citizens," Quintana wrote, according to Reuters.