Kim Jong-un admits North Korea has food shortages due to pandemic

UMMATIMES - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said the country's economy was improving this year. However, he called for steps to address the increasingly difficult food situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and last year's typhoon.

"The food situation of the people is now increasingly tense as the agricultural sector failed to meet grain production plans, due to the damage from last year's typhoon," Kim said.

According to North Korea's official KCNA news agency, Kim chaired a plenary meeting of the ruling Workers' Party's central committee on Tuesday (15/6). He reviewed major policy progress and measures to solve economic problems.

The committee set goals and tasks for achieving the new five-year economic plan outlined at the previous session in February, including increasing food and metal production. Kim said the overall economy had improved in the first half of the year, with total industrial production growing 25 percent from a year earlier.

However, the North Korean ruler saw a series of irregularities in the party's efforts to implement the plan. The condition was judged to be due to several constraints, highlighting the limited food supply.

The ruling Communist Party pledged to direct all agricultural efforts this year and discuss ways to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. The prolonged pandemic also requires the party to increase efforts to provide food, clothing and housing for the people.

Kim also called for measures to minimize the impact of natural disasters as lessons from last year and key to achieving this year's goals. In January, Kim said the previous five-year economic plan had failed in almost every sector. It comes as North Korea suffers from chronic food and electricity shortages exacerbated by sanctions, pandemics and flooding.

North Korea has not officially confirmed any cases of Covid-19. However, the reclusive country has imposed strict anti-virus measures including border closures and domestic travel restrictions.

Covax, a global initiative to share a Covid-19 vaccine with poor countries, said it would deliver nearly two million doses to North Korea. However, its delivery has been delayed amid protracted consultations.