01/07/2021, 16.07
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Kim Jong-un promises more weapons, but people are starving

The North Korean leader spoke at a rare Workers' Party congress. His silence on the country’s nuclear arsenal is seen as a wait-and-see approach towards Joe Biden. He admits guilt for the catastrophic state of the economy. Cities are running out of food.


Seoul (AsiaNews) – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed yesterday to boost the country's military capabilities to protect its people, state news agency KCNA reported today.

The announcement was made on the second day of a rare congress of the Workers' Party, which has ruled North Korea since the end of the Second World War.

Kim  did not mention nuclear weapons or war deterrent in his speech. Analysts see this as a way to avoid raising tensions with the US before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

North Korea is isolated internationally (except for China and a lesser extent Russia), and has been under international sanctions for years over its nuclear and rocket programmes.

Despite three summits and the apparent bonhomie with Donald Trump, nuclear talks with Washington have stalled for some time.

The country is in a very difficult situation. The coronavirus pandemic and a series of summer typhoons have weakened an economy already ravaged by sanctions.

At the opening of the congress, the first in five years, Kim admitted that the latest five-year plan was a failure.

He announced a new strategy to get the country out of its current state. This includes plans to innovate sectors such as construction, transport and communications, and promote a new approach in foreign political and economic relations.

According to several observers, Kim's admission of “guilt” is a sign that the regime is concerned about the country’s socio-economic situation. Pyongyang is aware of the serious food supply problem affecting the population (and the Armed Forces).

As North Korean cities begin to run out of supplies, vehicles are seen sneaking out at night to go into the countryside in search of food, reports the Daily NK, a Seoul-based online newspaper linked to South Korea’s Unification Ministry,

What is more, North Korean authorities are often turning a blind eye to these activities even if they break the curfew.

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