North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has said that his five-year economic plan failed “tremendously” in meeting the development goals that were set on “almost every sector”.
He spoke candidly about the five-year economic strategy unveiled in 2016, and noted that “the strategy was due last year but it tremendously fell short of goals on almost every sector” while urging the hermit kingdom to strive for yet greater self-reliance.
The North Korean leader, in his opening speech at the eighth congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, lauded party workers for ensuring “stable situations against the coronavirus from beginning to end”.
Mr Kim said: “They had resolutely overcome difficulties in the face of an unprecedentedly prolonged, unparalleled global health crisis,” according to the state-run KCNA news agency.
According to the World Health Organisation, North Korea has not confirmed a single Covid-19 infection since the pandemic began, though experts believe confirmed cases can’t be ruled out as it shared active trade and the movement of people movement with China before it closed their long shared land border in January 2020.
The party congress, a rare public event that was last held in 2016, is being attended by hundreds of party executives, delegates and spectators. It comes just two weeks before Joe Biden is scheduled to assume office, expected to herald a new era of US-North Korea relations.
The event is being closely monitored as it is expected that a new five-year economic plan will be unveiled, as well as potential insights into future relations with South Korea and the party’s wider foreign policy objectives for the years ahead.
In his address, Mr Kim said the country had achieved a “miraculous victory”, referring to the 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland, and his meetings with the outgoing US president Donald Trump.
According to KCNA, Mr Kim will suggest “strategic and tactical policies” aimed at promoting reunification during the congress. And after the event, the North Korean leader is also expected to give an address that outlines his diplomatic, military and economic policies.
Additional reporting by agencies