North Korea ruler Kim Jong-un admits economic plans failed


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has a taste for expensive nuclear weapons, but confessed his economic plans for the country had failed, according to state media.

In an uncommon admission, the leader described the situation his government faces as “the worst ever” and “unprecedented” as he spoke at the nation’s first full ruling party congress in five years.

Kim was blunt, admitting that “almost all sectors fell a long way short of the set objectives” from a five-year economic development plan created in 2016, reported the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

“We should further promote and expand the victories and successes we have gained at the cost of sweat and blood, and prevent the painful lessons from being repeated,” he reportedly said.

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Under his dictatorship, Kim leads one of poorest countries in Asia, which has been pummelled economically by international sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program, border closures with China as a result of COVID-19 and the impact of natural disasters last summer.

North Korea’s trade with China dropped by 80 per cent last year compared to 2019, with its GDP estimated to have declined by 9.3 per cent, said Song Jaeguk, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul.

US-led sanctions are also expected to be maintained on exports such as coal, textiles and seafood when Joe Biden takes up the presidency later this month.

Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, told The Guardian Kim would not come out and promise denuclearisation, marketisation and human rights improvements.

He added that the North Korean leader wants regime-sustaining economic growth while retaining nuclear weapons, which was a fundamental problem, reportedNine News.

“Pyongyang is thus likely to demand sanctions relief for merely reducing tensions rather than making progress on denuclearisation,” he said.

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At the Congress, Kim said he had analysed mistakes made in implementing the nation’s previous economic strategy and called for a new five-year plan, including strategic and tactical policies.

He also reviewed the status of North Korea’s industries such as metal, chemical and electric, said KCNA.

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