04/08/2011, 00.00
NORTH KOREA

N Korean parliament discusses “economy”, not succession

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Meeting in Pyongyang, the members of the Supreme People’s Assembly have put aside the issue of Kim Jong-il’s succession, announcing inside “huge funds” for the country’s economic development. Of course, these are but words as people starve to death.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – “Huge funds" to develop industry and agriculture and a “renewed effort” to turn North Korea into "a great, powerful and prosperous nation" by 2012 are the goals set out today during the opening session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of North Korea, one of the poorest nations in Asia.

Meeting in Pyongyang, hundreds of delegates approved the first budget presented by the government, but, contrary to expectations, did not honour in any way the third son of Dictator Kim Jong-il.

Of course, this means very little. First, the plenary session will continue for a week. Second, before the assembly started its work, delegates visited a housing project sponsored by Kim Jong-un. Finally, the history of the country shows that succession only occurs when the current leader dies.

Nevertheless, the rubber-stamp assembly is useful for promoting or removing this or that individual from Kim Jong-il’s inner circle.

So far, the only significant development worth mentioning is the sacking of one of the government’s deputy prime ministers, for “health reasons”.

Instead, propaganda took the lion share of the SPA’s time. Prime Minister Choe Yong-rim stressed the need to meet grain harvest targets "to bring about a decisive turn in improving the standard of people's living".

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Pak Su-Gil promised "huge funds" to develop industry and agriculture.

Ultimately, the goal of this parliamentary meeting is to turn North Korea into "a great, powerful and prosperous nation" by 2012, the centenary of the birth of the country’s ‘eternal president’, Kim Il-sung, a goal that is nigh impossible given the fact North Korea is going through one of the worst socio-economic crises in its history.

There is almost nothing for the population to keep going. According to some reports, people are eating anything they can find, even earth.

“In North Korea, we are living like dogs,” an anonymous source said. “I’d like something else, but that’s the way it is”.

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