Kim Urges North Korean Officials to Overcome “Gloomy Situation”

North Korea said Monday that leader Kim Jong Un urged officials to address the “grim situation” facing the country and make tougher efforts to improve the food and living conditions of its people.

But state media made no specific comments on Washington and Seoul when reporting on Kim’s speech marking the 76th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Labor Party.

Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled for more than two years over disagreements over the US-led, US-led easing of crippling sanctions and North Korea’s denuclearization measures.

People watch a TV screen featuring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, September 30, 2021. (Photo: Associated Press)

People watch a TV screen featuring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a news program, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, September 30, 2021. (Photo: Associated Press)

The country has stepped up its missile testing activity in recent weeks while making a conditional peace offer to Seoul by reviving a strategy that pressures South Korea to get what it wants from the United States.

According to the state news agency KCNA, Kim in a speech Sunday said his party was determined to achieve the economic goals set during the party’s congress in January, when he acknowledged that previous economic plans had failed and issued a new development plan for the next five years.

KCNA said Kim reaffirmed the party’s determination to efficiently implement the five-year plan to boost the “national economy and solve problems related to food, clothing and people’s housing.”

KCNA said Kim analyzed the “unprecedented difficulties” facing North Korea and called for party unity in developing the country’s economy in the face of a “gloomy situation.”

Analysts say Kim may be facing the toughest moment in his decade in power.

He failed to secure much-needed sanctions relief at his summits with President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019. He was also forced to close his country’s borders in anticipation of the coronavirus pandemic, further pressuring a shaky economy after decades of mishandling and facing sanctions. heavily linked to Kim’s nuclear weapons program.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week some COVID-19 medical supplies had arrived at North Korean ports, an indication that North Korea is loosening its borders over the pandemic to receive outside help.

Kim has so far rejected the Biden administration’s offer to restart dialogue without preconditions, saying Washington must first abandon its “hostile policies”, a term North Korea primarily uses to refer to US-South Korean sanctions and military exercises.

But North Korea in recent weeks has also restored lines of communication with South Korea and said it could take further steps to improve bilateral ties if Seoul abandoned its “duplicity” and “hostile points of view”.

Analysts say North Korea is capitalizing on the South’s desire for inter-Korean dialogue to stretch ties between Washington and Seoul and to pressure South Korea into extracting concessions from the Biden administration for North Korea. [ab/uh]

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