SEOUL, South Korea – According to state media reports on Saturday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered a speech at an important political meeting this week, vowing to further strengthen his military capabilities, maintain stringent anti-virus measures, and work to improve the economy.
The official media reported Kim Jong-un’s speech at the five-day plenary meeting of the ruling Labor Party, but did not make any specific comments on his dealings with the United States and South Korea. Some experts say this means that Kim Jong-un is not interested in resuming talks with Washington and Seoul in the short term, but would rather close his country’s borders while seeking a stronger self-reliant economy to overcome the difficulties associated with the pandemic.
The official Korea Central News Agency quoted Kim Jong Un as saying: “The increasingly unstable military environment and international politics on the Korean peninsula have prompted calls for vigorous advancement of our national defense plan without delay.”
According to KCNA reports, Kim ordered the production of powerful modern weapon systems to improve his military power and called on the army to be “absolutely loyal and loyal” to the ruling party he leads.
The KCNA stated that the plenary meeting proposed a “tactical direction” for North Korea’s foreign relations, including South Korea, but did not elaborate. It does not mention the United States.
The purpose of this meeting was to review past projects and determine new policies, and coincided with the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s administration last month. Since he inherited control after the death of the dictator’s father in December 2011, Kim Jong Un has established absolute power in the country and strengthened his nuclear and missile arsenal. However, due to border closures caused by the pandemic, continued UN sanctions, and the impact of natural disasters, the North Korean economy has suffered major setbacks in the past two years.
North Korea shows no signs of political instability, but some experts say that if current difficulties continue, the long-term stability of Kim Jong Un’s leadership may be questioned. High-profile political meetings like the plenary session give King an opportunity to consolidate the unity behind his leadership and show that he firmly controls the government. However, it is not clear whether such meetings provide any fundamental solutions to North Korea’s difficulties. This is mainly due to decades of mismanagement, self-isolation and nuclear drive, making it one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. one.
At a party congress in January last year, Kim admitted that his previous economic development plan had failed and stated that his country was facing the “worst ever” situation.
But at this week’s plenary meeting, King claimed that the new development plan had made progress, saying that last year was a “great victory year” and that this year’s goal was a “great life and death struggle” that must be achieved. Jin mentioned progress in many areas such as agriculture, construction, electricity, mining, and forestry, but could not be independently verified.
According to South Korea’s estimates, North Korea’s trade with its largest trading partner and economic pipeline, China, shrank by about 80% in 2020, and then plunged again by two-thirds in the first nine months of last year. In 2020, North Korea’s economy will shrink the most since 1997, and food production will drop to the lowest level since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011. Seoul officials said North Korea’s food production improved slightly last year.
At the plenary meeting, Kim Jong Un ordered officials to give priority to the emergency anti-epidemic campaign, saying that negligence and loopholes should not be tolerated. Analysts say that Kim is worried that his country’s fragile public medical infrastructure will not be able to cope with a large-scale virus outbreak—even though he insists that North Korea does not have a coronavirus.
Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang said: “Due to the new (omicron) variant and the continuation of the global pandemic, North Korea is expected to continue to block the border and resort to self-reliance, while conducting the minimum level of necessary trade with China.” At the private Sejong Academy.
Cheong stated that it is “very unlikely” that North Korea will accept the United States’ call to restart nuclear diplomacy or South Korea’s call to end the 1950-53 Korean War with a symbolic political statement to ease tensions.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said: “The reason why North Korea can tolerate strict border restrictions and claims that the success of the’main’ self-reliance is due to the secret trade from China. And assistance helps meet the minimum national needs.”.
U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic and political gains failed in 2019. Then President Donald Trump rejected King’s request that the sanctions be broadly lifted in exchange for partial denuclearization. Since then, Kim Jong-un threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce high-tech weapons against the United States and its allies.