North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photograph:( Reuters )
Kim is dealing with probably his toughest moment in power as he finishes 10 years in rule, with North Korea’s coronavirus lockdown unleashing even further shock on a financial system devastated by long time of mismanagement and crippling U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear weapons programme
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has admitted that his country is facing its 'worst-ever situation' as its crumbling economy is battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kim made the comments during an opening speech at a meeting of the Workers' Party's cell secretaries on Tuesday. He addressed thousands of grassroots members in the course of the important political convention in Pyongyang.
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Experts say Kim is dealing with probably his toughest moment as he finishes 10 years in rule, with North Korea’s coronavirus lockdown unleashing even further shock on a financial system devastated by a long time of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear weapons programme.
“Improving the people's living standards ... even in the worst-ever situation in which we have to overcome unprecedentedly numerous challenges depends on the role played by the cells, the grassroots organisations of the party,” Kim said.
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He urged party members to carry out the decisions made at a party congress in January when he vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent in face of US pressure and announced a new five-year national development plan. The congress took place months after Kim, during another political conference, showed unusual candor by acknowledging that his plans to improve the economy weren't succeeding.
During Tuesday's speech, Kim also criticised the party's grassroots units for unspecified “shortcomings” that should be immediately corrected to ensure the “healthy and sustainable” development of the party.
Party cells, which consist of five to 30 members, are the smallest units of party authority that oversee the works and lives at factories and other places. The network is an important tool for the Workers' Party to perpetuate its power. The previous conference of cell secretaries was held in 2017.
The economic setbacks have left Kim with nothing to show for his ambitious diplomacy with former President Donald Trump, which collapsed over disagreements in lifting sanctions for the North's denuclearisation steps.
The North has so far rejected the Biden administration's overture for talks, saying that Washington must discard its “hostile” policies first, and dialled up the pressure by resuming tests of ballistic missiles last month after a yearlong pause.
(With inputs from agencies)