North Korean leader Kim Jong Un kicked off a rare congress of the ruling Worker’s Party with a speech that admitted failure to reach the country’s five-year economic goals, state media reported Wednesday.
“The five-year strategy for national economic development ended last year, but it fell incredibly short of the goals set out in almost all sectors,” Kim said, according to the state-run news agency.
“The worst of the worst unprecedented difficulties that we are going through have been a major obstacle to the progress of our revolution,” Kim said in his opening address to the Eighth Party Congress, which began on Tuesday.
The meeting is expected to last for a few days with new economic development plans and changes to party leadership on the agenda. Observers will be keeping an eye on whether Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, will be given a higher position in the party after a year that saw her profile rise significantly on the international stage.
Kim said in his speech that “various challenges that hinder our efforts” have come from “both outside and inside.”
North Korea experienced severe economic hardships in 2020 from ongoing international sanctions and prolonged border closings due to Covid-19. Pyongyang took early action against the pandemic and sealed its borders in January, disrupting economic activity with its main trading partner, China.
The country was also battered by a series of late-summer typhoons that caused flooding and major damage to buildings, roads and crops.
“It is necessary to boldly acknowledge defects that became obstacles and stumbling stones and take decisive measures so that such a breakdown will not be repeated again,” Kim said.The North Korean leader said the congress will work to “pave a new path” and make a “leap forward.” SOVEREIGNPH