Kim Jong-un on food crisis: 'Improve the conditions of the people'
The North Korean leader's appeal came on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party. The economic situation seems increasingly serious. A former colonel who defected to the South tells of the illicit means used by the communist regime to obtain cash liquidity.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has urged officials to focus on improving the living conditions of citizens in the face of a "grim" economic situation. Kim gave the speech yesterday marking the 76th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party: there were celebrations of various kinds, but not a military parade as is usually the case on these occassions.
The economy of the North Korean communist regime is in the strangle-hold of the international sanctions againsits nuclear and missile program; the self-imposed isolation to face the pandemic has worsened the situation.
The need for liquidity was confirmed by Kim Kuk-song, a North Korean colonel who defected and gave an interview to the BBC. Once the "reddest of the reds," as he described himself, he had to leave the country in 2014 and has since been living in Seoul and working with South Korean intelligence services. He recounted the North Korean leadership's desperate search for money, obtained by any means possible, from drug trafficking to arms sales in Africa and the Middle East.
In April, Kim Jong-un had asked the population to prepare for another "strenuous march," recalling an intense period of famine in the 1990s, when the country was led by sup Kim Jong-il. At the time Kim Kuk-song was asked to find "revolutionary funds": translated into other terms, it meant trafficking in illegal drugs. But with the money earned the former North Korean leader "built villas, bought cars, food, clothes and luxury products." Estimates of the number of deaths from prolonged food shortages in North Korea in the 1990s range from hundreds of thousands to a million.
Another source of income, according to Kim Kuk-song, comes from illegal arms sales to Iran. Most recently, the United Nations has accused North Korea of supplying weapons to Syria, Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.
Since 2017, people arrested for espionage have decreased in South Korea . According to the former colonel, this is due to the formation of a unit consisting of at least 6 thousand hackers: "Moranbong University chose the brightest students from all over the country and subjected them to six years of special training."
The defected colonel then recounted leaving the country after Kim Jong-un came to power and killed his uncle Jang Song-thaek in 2013 because he was perceived as a threat and the de facto leader of North Korea.
"To abandon my country, where my ancestor's grave and family is, and to escape to South Korea, which at the time for me was a foreign land, was the worst grief-stricken decision of emotional distress."
Kim Kuk-song further added, "I'll be more active from now on to free my Northern brethren from the grasps of dictatorship and for them to enjoy true freedom."