March 5 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un made a rare appearance at a new workshop for city and county-level officials in North Korea, a multi-day event that could be designed to implement policy guidelines established during the Eighth Party Congress in January.
North Korean state media reported Friday Kim attended the workshop for the second day in a row to stress the importance of increasing agricultural output.
"The city and county-level [Workers'] Party committees must fulfill their mission and role evenly so that the entire Party, and projects of the state, perform well and overall development of our-style socialism can make progress," Kim said, according to Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
Kim also criticized local-level politicians for a "bluff deeply rooted in the agricultural sector," a reference to possible distortion of production numbers in farming. The North Korean leader made similar remarks in February.
Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University in Seoul, told South Korean network KBS that Kim could be turning his attention to local officials because of economic constraints the regime is facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Korean leader may not be finding it easy to immediately invest financial resources at the national level for local economic development, Lim said. Kim therefore could be seeking to derive future results by harnessing the capabilities of local party politicians, the analyst added.
Kim is taking a more hands-on approach to the economy than his predecessors, His father never publicly held an economic workshop during hard times and was responsible for widespread hunger during the Great Famine of the late '90s.
Food insecurity remains a persistent problem in North Korea.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said in its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report released Thursday that North Korea suffers from a widespread lack of access to food.
A large segment of the country suffers from "very poor dietary diversity" and floods in August and September last year affected large numbers of people, the group said.