North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday will open a key meeting of the ruling party for the first time in eight months to address issues of “crucial significance” — as the Hermit Kingdom grapples with a sanctions-ravaged economy, national security concerns and devastating floods, according to reports.
The Workers’ Party’s powerful politburo will discuss issues of “crucial significance in developing the Korean revolution and increasing the fighting efficiency of the party,” according to the official KCNA news agency, Reuters reported.
Last year, Kim vowed to make a “frontal breakthrough” in the country’s campaign to build a self-reliant economy amid tightening sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program.
Kim, whose reported health scare earlier this year raised questions about succession, faces wide-ranging difficulties, both at home and abroad, after floods wiped out farmland to deal another blow to the virus-hit economy.
The flooding has affected the Yongbyon nuclear facility, with waters reaching pump houses for mothballed reactors, the 38 North website reported based on an analysis of satellite images, Bloomberg News reported.
His nuclear talks with President Trump have stalled without him winning any sanctions relief, and the US and South Korea this week kicked off joint military exercises, according to the outlet.
“The unusual succession of party meetings in recent months — and possibly even the lack of much North Korean activity on the foreign policy front of late, for example weapons testing — suggest the quarantine measures and the global pandemic have had serious ramifications for the economy and the people’s living standards,” Rachel Minyoung Lee, a former US government analyst specializing in the rogue regime, told Bloomberg.
Pyongyang has boasted that the country doesn’t have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus — a claim doubted by American and Japanese officials.
Kim needs to revive the battered economy before the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10, Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Bloomberg.
“Kim may reshuffle his bureaucrats during the meeting in a bid to speed up the restoration of damages by the recent flood and COVID-19 before the October 10,” Yang said. “The meeting is likely to emphasize issues surrounding internal politics, mainly economy.”
With Post wires
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