Kim: North Korea faces “worst situation in its history”
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un admitted Tuesday that his country is facing “the worst situation in its history” during a speech to thousands of ruling party members at a major political conference in Pyongyang.
Experts say Kim faces perhaps his most difficult moment in nearly a decade in power, as isolation from the Coronavirus has caused further problems in an economy already torn apart by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.
Kim made the remarks during the opening speech at a meeting of Labor cell ministers, the state’s Central News Agency reported.
“Improving the residents’ standard of living, even in the worst situation in history where we have to overcome many unprecedented challenges, depends on the role played by the cells, the party’s grassroots organizations,” Kim said.
The president asked members to implement decisions taken by Congress in January, when he promised to strengthen his nuclear deterrence in the face of US pressure and announced a new five-year development plan. That meeting came months later, during another political conference, Kim showed extraordinary candor in admitting that his plans to improve the economy had not worked.
During his Tuesday speech, Kim also criticized the party’s grassroots units for unspecified “deficiencies” that must be corrected immediately to ensure the organization’s “healthy and sustainable” development.
Party cells, which usually have five to 30 members, are the smallest units of power in the party, and they oversee work and life in factories and elsewhere. The network is an important tool for perpetuating the power of the Labor Party. The last conference of the cell secretary took place in 2017.
The economic setbacks left Kim with nothing to show his ambitious diplomacy with former US President Donald Trump, who had collapsed over disagreements over sanctions relief in exchange for progress toward denuclearization.
For now, Pyongyang has rejected the Biden administration’s proposal to negotiate, indicating that Washington should abandon its “hostile” policies soon, and has increased the pressure by resuming ballistic missile tests last month after a year of their suspension.