Seoul, Apr 9 (efe-epa).- North Korea’s leader has urged the ruling Workers’ Party to wage another “arduous march”, a state campaign during a period of famine in the 1990s, amid the country’s economic woes due to sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, state news agency KCNA reported Friday.
Kim Jong-un made this reference in a speech at the closing of a conference of cell secretaries of the Workers’ Party held in Pyongyang on Thursday.
The North Korean leader said that he has decided to ask party members at different levels “to wage another more difficult ‘Arduous March’ in order to relieve our people of the difficulty” and also to “provide them with the optimum material and cultural wellbeing.”
The “arduous march” was a state propaganda campaign that began in 1993, in which North Koreans were urged to take inspiration from the tribulations that the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung – the current leader’s grandfather – allegedly suffered during his fight against Japanese colonization, to face a famine that caused around 3 million deaths.
“There are many obstacles and difficulties ahead of us, and so our struggle for carrying out the decisions of the Eighth Party Congress would not be all plain sailing,” Kim warned the cell secretaries gathered in Pyongyang, without making more specific references.
At the Workers’ Party congress in January, Kim admitted that North Korea was going through its “worst-ever trials” in reference to the economic hardships caused by the sanctions imposed on it in response to its weapons’ programs.
Added to this are the economic difficulties resulting from the pandemic. The impoverished country closed its borders in January 2020, preventing the entry of tourists and foreign investment.
Strict border controls have even almost completely eliminated trade with China since October, according to Beijing’s customs data.
North Korea gets 90 percent of its imports from its powerful neighbor, and media outlets with contacts inside the hermetic country have reported shortages of basic goods, from food to medicine, for months.
The situation of extreme isolation has also forced many diplomats and workers from international organizations and NGOs to leave the country with practically no observers outside the regime remaining.
In its latest report to the World Health Organization (WHO) at the end of March, North Korea claims that it had tested 22,389 people without detecting a single Covid-19 case. EFE-EPA