Kim accepts policy failures, opens North Korean Congress


State media reported on Wednesday that SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un admitted that his economic development plan had failed as he opened the country’s first full-fledged Congress in five years.

According to the North’s official Korean Central News, Kim said in an inaugural address to the congress that began on Tuesday, “almost all areas lacked set objectives” as part of the previous five-year development plan established at the 2016 Congress. Agency.

“We must advance and extend the victories and successes we have achieved at the expense of sweat and blood, and prevent painful lessons from being repeated,” he said.

The Workers Party Congress is one of the North’s biggest publicity goggles to help show Kim an anxious nation he is firmly in control of and behind his leadership in the face of COVID-19 and other growing economic challenges Is to promote unity.

But some observers are skeptical that the platform-managed Congress will find a fundamental solution to North Korea’s difficulties, many of which meant decades of economic mismanagement and Kim’s mastermind of expensive nuclear weapons targeting the US mainland.

The 36-year-old Kim, who is expected to last a few days, may have the toughest challenge of the nine-year rule between him and what he called “multiple crises”.

Totalitarian North Korea is one of Asia’s poorest countries, and the already besieged economy China, the North’s major economic lifeline, slumped by a series of natural disasters last summer, and border closures related to frequent US-led epidemics Is getting affected by Ban on nuclear program.

US President-Elect Joe Biden, who assumes office later in January, will likely uphold sanctions and take significant steps toward denuclearization of North Korea until it evades any direct meeting with Kim.

Congress met in Pyongyang to determine “a new line of conflict and strategic and tactical policies” in the presence of thousands of KCNA representatives and observers.

According to KCNA, Kim described the difficulties facing his government as “the worst” and “unprecedented” in his speech.

KCNA said that Kim called for the new five-year plan and reviewed the current state of North Korea’s metals, chemicals, power and other major industries and determined unspecified actions.

This is not the first time that Kim has been outspoken about flawed systems and policies. Last August, he acknowledged the economic “shortcomings” due to “unexpected and unavoidable challenges”. Also last year, he said that North Korea lacks modern medical facilities and that the anti-disaster situations in coastal areas are “bad”.

Some experts doubt Kim’s hold on power. But prolonged coronovirus-related lockdown can destabilize food and foreign exchange markets and increase livelihoods in North Korea. Could possibly reduce Kim’s authority, some observers say.

Leif-Eric Eisely, a professor at Ewa University in Seoul, said the “fundamental problem” is that “Kim wants regime-economic development while maintaining nuclear weapons.”

“Pyongyang is seeking to relieve sanctions to reduce the possibility that this is to reduce tensions rather than progress on nuclearization,” he said.

US-led sanctions were tightened after Kim’s unusually aggressive run of nuclear and missile tests in 2016 and 2017. They maintain restrictions on major export items such as coal, textiles and seafood. Nevertheless, Kim still pushed repeatedly for expansion of his nuclear arsenal so that he could counter American hostilities.

Kim entered into negotiations with President Donald Trump in 2018, but his diplomacy remained at a deadlock for nearly two years due to conflicts over sanctions.

The epidemic and thunderstorms and floods last summer – which destroyed homes, farmland and other infrastructure in North Korea – have further damaged the North’s economy.

After a one-year closure of its border with China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, bilateral trade volume declined by nearly 80% in the first 11 months of the previous year from the same period in 2019, Seoul’s IBK Economic Research Institute analyst Song Jeguk said. He said North Korea’s GDP was estimated at 9.3% in 2020.

Spies in South Korea said that after a steep decline in external trade, North Korea experienced a quadruple increase of imported food items such as sugar and seasonings, while Kim’s lack of raw materials has led to its rise since Kim came to power. Factory operating rate fell to its lowest level. Lawmakers in late November.

“I can’t think of any words to describe how difficult the situation of North Koreans is, rather than saying that they are suffering tremendously,” Song said. “If the coronovirus epidemic continues, they will suffer more.”

As the caretaker leader Kim continues to insist on burning an image.

State media said Kim sent New Year’s Day cards to ordinary citizens when the first such letters by the leader of North Korea in 26 years were called Seoul. During a speech in October, Kim shed tears, thanking people for understanding the difficulties. He has made an unusually large number of trips to typhoon and flood-affected rural areas.

Officially, Congress is the highest-level decision-making body of the party, although day-to-day decisions are made by Kim and his inner circle. Representatives gathered for Congress are expected to support the new initiative by Kim without major debate. Congress will still offer Kim a chance to consolidate her authority by announcing a new vision, naming loyal lieutenants for top positions and calling for a strong unity behind her leadership.

Many experts say North Korea has no other option than to keep its border closed as the worldwide epidemic continues, as its public health care system is broken and a major outbreak could have terrible consequences. Despite North Korea taking anti-virus measures, North Korea has said that it has not found a single virus case on its soil, widely claimed by foreign experts.

Congress’ KCNA photographs show all participants, including Kim, wearing masks sitting next to each other.

During the congress, the North may issue thoughtful messages regarding relations with the incoming Biden administration, reducing its traditional ties with China and Russia, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said in a report on the outlook for Congress.

Kim did not mention the United States or South Korea in his speech on Tuesday. He is expected to make a few more speeches before the Congress ends.

Some experts say that Kim will never embark on a major provocation anytime soon, as it would reduce the possibility of early talks with the Biden government, which faces several essential domestic issues.

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