North Korea’s Kim Jong Un talks food, a five-year plan in speeches that celebrates 10 years as a leader

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended his 10th year in power with a speech that mentioned more tractor factories and school uniforms than nuclear weapons or the United States, according to state media summaries on Saturday.

North Korea’s main goal for 2022 will be rapid economic development and to improve people’s lives when faced with a “great struggle for life and death”, Kim said in a speech on Friday at the end of the 8th Central Committee’s fourth plenary session. from the Korean Workers’ Party (WPK), which began on Monday.

The meetings coincided with the 10th anniversary of Kim taking over the management of the country in practice after her father’s death in 2011.

Kim has used previous New Year’s speeches to make major political announcements, including launching significant diplomatic engagements with South Korea and the United States.

But summaries of his speech published in North Korean state media did not mention anything specific about the United States, with only a passing reference to unspecified discussions about inter-Korean relations and “external affairs.”

The speech’s domestic focus underscored the economic problems facing Kim at home, where self-imposed anti-pandemic border locks have left North Korea more isolated than ever before, with international aid organizations warning of possible food shortages and a humanitarian crisis.

“The main task facing our party and people next year is to provide a secure guarantee for the implementation of the five-year plan and to bring about a remarkable change in state development and the people’s standard of living,” Kim said.

Kim spent most of his speech describing domestic issues from an ambitious rural development plan to people’s diets, school uniforms and the need to crack down on “non-socialist methods”.

The strong focus on rural development is probably a populist strategy, says Chad O’Carroll, founder of NK News, a Seoul-based website that tracks North Korea.

“Overall, Kim may be aware that revealing sophisticated military development plans while people suffer from food shortages and difficult conditions outside Pyongyang may not be such a good idea this year,” he wrote on Twitter.

Saturday’s state media report cited the development of “one ultra-modern weapon system after another” as a major achievement over the past year, saying Kim called for strengthening national defense to meet an unstable international situation.

A tractor factory he discussed in the speech was probably used to build missile launch vehicles, foreign analysts have said, and North Korea is believed to have expanded its arsenal despite the locks.

Reports on Kim’s speeches did not mention the US call for nuclear disarmament talks, or South Korea’s pressure on a declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War as a way to resume those talks.

North Korea has previously said it is open to diplomacy, but that US operations appear hollow while “hostile acts” such as military exercises and sanctions continue.

(REUTERS)

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