Leader Kim says food situation getting tense in North Korea

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FILED - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends the performance titled
FILED - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attends the performance titled "The Glorious Country", on the sidelines of the Inter-Korean Summit, at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, 19 September 2018. Photo: -/Zuma Press/dpa

North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un said the food situation in the isolated communist country was getting tense due to the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s typhoon, state news agency KCNA reported on Wednesday.

At a plenary session of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party which opened on Tuesday, Kim called on officials to settle “the people’s food situation” which “is now getting tense,” according to KCNA.

He said the issue was in part caused by the agricultural sector’s failure to fulfil its grain production plan due to damage caused by the typhoon last year.

Kim also told North Koreans to brace themselves for extended Covid-19 restrictions.

He said the country’s economy showed “improvement as a whole” in the first six months of 2021, with the total industrial output growing 25 per cent compared to the previous year.

On top of a series of natural disasters, including floods and storm damage, and the coronavirus pandemic, the reclusive country is also subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea moved swiftly to close its borders as the coronavirus spread, strongly impacting foreign trade with China, which is considered the country’s lifeline.

In March, a UN human rights expert tasked with monitoring the country, Tomas Ojea Quintana, told the Human Rights Council (HRC) that the pandemic’s impact was contributing to “deaths by starvation.”

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 40 per cent of the population did not have secure food supplies, Quintana said in an earlier report.

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