Pyongyang’s 80-day campaign to overcome crisis without foreign aid

Kim Jong-un's call for self-sufficiency comes after the country was brought to its knees by the pandemic and a series of floods. The policy is a veiled attack on China. About 40 per cent of the population is malnourished, but the regime is wasting resources on new ballistic missiles.


Seoul (AsiaNews) - North Korea’s strongman, Kim Jong-un, urged his country to commit all its energies to an "80 days" campaign to achieve self-sufficiency and overcome its problems, this according to Rodong Sinmum, the official newspaper of the country’s ruling party, the Workers’ Party of Korea.

Earlier this month, Kim chaired a party meeting, ordering an "80-day campaign" to achieve the country’s economic goals by the end of the year ahead of a party congress scheduled for January, the latter being a rare event.

Due to the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic, North Korea has already refused foreign aid in August after it was hit by floods.

For the party newspaper, North Korea must end the dependence “that hurts our pride and hinders progress and [must] boost production using our own raw materials and resources.”

Given its political and economic reliance on China, Rodong Sinmun’s attack was not aimed at the US enemy but at Beijing.

As a result of international sanctions to contain Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, China has become North Korea’s only real partner. Last year, bilateral exchanges with China accounted for 95.4 per cent of North Korea's total trade.

However, in the first eight months of this year, trade between the two countries saw a 70 per cent drop over 2019. For South Korea’s Unification Ministry, this is due to North Korea’s enhanced border controls to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim's call for autarchy comes a few months before a party congress, a rare event, which should decide the new five-year plan, and is indicative of the difficulties the North Korean regime faces.

Analysts note that the international community, Beijing included, could tighten the screws on Pyongyang for spending money on its own rearmament rather than on the primary needs of the population.

According to the World Food Programme, 40 per cent of North Koreans were already undernourished before the outbreak of the global health crisis.

Despite this, Pyongyang showed off what looks like a new ICBM and a nuclear-capable submarine launcher on 10 October during the military parade to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party,

According to the US Department of State, between 13.4 and 23.3 per cent of North Korea’s GDP goes to military spending, the highest percentage in the world.