Kim warns of ‘tense’ food situation, higher COVID lockdown

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned of food shortages and urged the country to prepare for increased COVID-19 bans

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency also said Wednesday that Kim had called for discussions on how the North is dealing with the “current international situation,” though it did not mention specific comments from Kim about in the United States or South Korea.

The North’s economy was damaged amid a pandemic closure of the borders, which destroyed China’s trade, while last summer’s storms and floods damaged crops.

Monitors examining the situation in North Korea have yet to see signs of widespread hunger or severe instability, but some analysts say conditions could be set for a full-blown storm. which hampered food and exchange markets and caused public panic. The Korea Development Institute, a South Korean government think tank, said last month that the North could face a food shortage of about 1 million tons this year.

During the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Labor Party at the opening on Tuesday, Kim urged officials to find ways to improve agricultural production, saying the country’s food situation “is deteriorating now.”

The KCNA says Kim is also “setting tasks for the state to maintain a full -fledged anti -epidemic state” – suggesting that North Korea will extend the pandemia lockdown despite its economic tensions.

While the report lacks details, the party meeting provided further indications about how severe the shortage of food and consumer goods in North Korea is, according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies. study at Ewha University in Seoul.

“Extended pandemic border restrictions are taking a toll on the economy as price and exchange rate indicators appear to be worsening,” he said.

Most experts doubt North Korea’s claim that it does not have even a single case of COVID-19, due to China’s poor health infrastructure and porous border, its main ally and economic lifeline.

Kim called for a party meeting to review the country’s efforts to rebuild the economy in the first half of the year. While addressing “unfavorable” conditions and challenges on Tuesday, Kim also expressed his gratitude for his described improvement, saying the country’s industrial output was up 25% from last year, according to the KCNA.

The report said the Central Committee meeting would continue but did not specify how long.

North Korea held its first ruling party congress in five years in January, when it laid out plans to progress over the next five years. At this meeting Kim urged the country to strengthen their struggle for economic self-reliance, He also called for the strengthening of greater state restraint of the economy, increasing agricultural production and providing priority in the development of the chemical and metal industries.

Experts say such sectors are crucial to the reform of industrial production that has skipped sanctions and the suspension of imports of factory materials amid the pandemic.

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