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Kim Jong Un addresses North Korea's food crisis at Workers' Party meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led the third plenary meeting of the Workers' Party's Eighth Central Committee Tuesday and addressed the growing food crisis in the country, according to state media. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led the third plenary meeting of the Workers' Party's Eighth Central Committee Tuesday and addressed the growing food crisis in the country, according to state media. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE

June 16 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un acknowledged North Korea faces a critical food shortage during a much anticipated meeting of the Korean Workers' Party.

Kim led the third plenary meeting of the Workers' Party's Eighth Central Committee on Tuesday and addressed the growing crisis in the country, KCTV and party paper Rodong Sinmun reported Wednesday.

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"Due to a series of difficulties and hardships, biases occurred in the process of carrying out national planning and policy tasks," Kim said. "The first task of battle is to prioritize proper agricultural production.

"The people's food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfill its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year," Kim said, according to KCNA.

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Kim also "stressed that the plenary meeting should take a positive measure for settling the problem," state media reported.

Kim's "biases" was likely a reference to economic sanctions against the country for nuclear weapons development, and also to measures North Korea took to block its borders during COVID-19. The policy cut off trade and hampered humanitarian assistance.

The North Korean leader said the country's economy is recovering. Kim claimed that industrial output was up 144% in the first half of 2021, an increase from 125% in the first half of last year.

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"The country's economy is on the rise as a whole," he said.

The plenary meeting also addressed the possibility of a "long-term emergency quarantine situation" due to COVID-19 and called for an assessment of "the current international situation and our party's corresponding direction," state media said.

Yang Moo-jin, a South Korean analyst at the University of North Korean Studies, told Hankook Ilbo that North Korea needs "external stability" for Kim to reach the goals of his Five-Year Plan for the economy.

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Relaxed international restrictions against North Korea could make it easier for the regime to send guest workers overseas to earn foreign currency for Kim, Yang said. The United Nations Security Council has banned North Korean workers abroad, but sanctions have been difficult to enforce in some countries.

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