North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has admitted that the country is facing a “food tension situation”.
The country, whose economy is being targeted by multiple international sanctions imposed in response to nuclear and missile programs, has long been suffering from severe food shortages.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as hurricanes and floods, had a huge impact on the economy.
The official told a plenary session of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party that the economic situation has improved, with industrial production rising 2% from the previous year, the official North Korean News Agency reported.
The leader admitted, however, that he faced “a series of difficulties” due to “many challenges” ahead.
“The food situation is now tense as the agricultural sector failed to achieve the target of grain production due to the damage caused by typhoons last year,” Kim said.
In the summer of 2020, tornadoes destroyed thousands of homes and farmland with floods.
Kim called for measures to reduce the impact of these natural disasters, saying that ensuring “good crops” was a “top priority.”
During the meeting, the “permanent status” of the epidemic was discussed, the Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korea was one of the first countries to impose strict health restrictions, including a decision to close the border with neighboring China, to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The regime argued that it was not affected by the epidemic, something many experts doubt.
Trade with Beijing, the regime’s main economic and diplomatic backer, has fallen dramatically.
The isolation came at such a high economic cost that in April Kim acknowledged the difficulties facing the country and called on North Korean officials to “lead” a “new and tougher” forced march to help people cope.
“Forced March” is the North Korean term for the 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands after Moscow curtailed aid following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
It is very likely that the pandemic has “exacerbated” the humanitarian situation in the country, with 10.6 million people in need of assistance, according to an estimate by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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