North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers an opening speech at a conference of the Workers’ Party’s cell secretaries in Pyongyang
on Tuesday. (AP/PTI)
By Kim Tong-Hyung :
NORTH Korean leader Kim Jong Un has acknowledged his country was facing the “worst- ever situation” as he addressed thousands of grassroots members of his ruling party during a major political conference in Pyongyang. Experts say Kim is facing perhaps his toughest moment as he approaches a decade in rule, with North Korea’s coronavirus lockdown unleashing further shock on an economy devastated by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions over his nuclear weapons programme.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim made the comments during an opening speech at a meeting of the Workers’ Party’s cell secretaries on Tuesday. “Improving the people’s living standards ... even in the worst-ever situation in which we have to overcome unprecedentedly numerous challenges depends on the role played by the cells, the grassroots organisations of the party,” Kim said. He urged members to carry out the decisions made at a party congress in January, when he vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent in face of US pressure and announced a new five-year national development plan.
The congress came months after Kim during another political conference showed unusual candor by acknowledging that his plans to improve the economy weren’t succeeding. During Tuesday’s speech, Kim also criticised the party’s grassroots units for unspecified “shortcomings” that should be immediately corrected to ensure the “healthy and sustainable” development of the party.