North Korea vows economic boost after Kim’s ‘tense’ food shortage admission

Seoul, June 17 (EFE).- North Korea has renewed its pledge for “development-oriented changes” in various economic sectors, the official news agency said on Thursday, after its leader Kim Jong-un admitted that the country was facing “tense” food shortages.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the pledge was made on the second day of the ruling party plenary meeting on Wednesday.

The second day of the plenary was focused on boosting the North Korean economic policy.

“The second day was held amid exceptionally high fighting will of all the participants in the plenary meeting to bring about without fail remarkable development-oriented changes,” the news agency said.

It said the changes would be brought about by implementing major policy tasks for the current five-year plan that began this year.

The news agency said sector-wise study and consultative meetings were held during the second-day sitting.

Among the sectors addressed during the plenary were agriculture, metal, railway transport, chemicals, electricity, coal, machine, construction, and building materials.

“The participants studied the draft resolution to be suggested to the plenary meeting and confirmed the draft measures and planned figures of which scientific accuracy and practicality are guaranteed.”

On the first day of the plenary session of the Northern Workers Party, Kim made a rare admission about the widely-reported lingering food crisis in the so-called “hermit kingdom.”

“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,” Kim said.

He stressed that the plenary meeting needed to take a positive measure for settling the problem.

That crisis has deepened due to the pandemic, which has further isolated the reclusive state.

The coronavirus outbreak forced the country to close its borders and reject the entry of humanitarian aid from abroad for fear of the spread of covid-19.

For the first time, Kim has directly mentioned the hardships the country is going through.

Last year in April, he called on officials to embark on what he called an “arduous march” to relieve the growing economic problems, comparing the crisis to the 1990s famine that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Experts say Kim’s references to food shortages and the pandemic reflected the serious internal situation the regime is facing.

The North Korean leader usually uses such plenary meetings to boast about the signs of technological, industrial, and military progress.

The plenary meeting, the third of its kind this year, will last for several days, although state media have not specified how long.

The meeting has been drawing keen attention amid expectations that the North Korean leadership will provide clues about its strategy towards the United States and South Korea.

The US recently reviewed its policy towards the North Korean regime after the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House.

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