This picture taken on August 19, 2020 and released from KCNA on August 20 shows DPRK leader Kim Jong-un (top, left) attending the 6th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. (PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
SEOUL - The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un announced that the ruling party will hold a congress next year to decide a new five-year plan, with a party meeting noting serious delays in improving the national economy, state media said on Thursday.
The plenary meeting of the ruling Party on Wednesday decided to convene a congress in January to set forth “a correct line of struggle and strategic and tactical policies” after reviewing lessons from the past five years, the official KCNA news agency said.
The meeting comes as the isolated country deals with international sanctions and struggles to contain the novel coronavirus and cope with damage from recent flooding after weeks of heavy rain.
Kim noted in a speech at the meeting that the DPRK had faced both “unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects and the situation in the region,” KCNA reported.
Economy was not improved in the face of the sustaining severe internal and external situations and unexpected manifold challenges
KCNA quoted the plenary of Workers’ Party as saying
The plenary meeting called the implementation of the decisions made at the last congress an “indomitable struggle” and said the party had made “a great revolutionary turn,” it reported.
"On the other hand, economy was not improved in the face of the sustaining severe internal and external situations and unexpected manifold challenges,” KCNA quoted the plenary as saying.
“Thereby planned attainment of the goals for improving the national economy have been seriously delayed and the people’s living standard not been improved remarkably.”
While the reports did not detail what the new plans might include, the mention of work by an auditing committee hints that the congress could be another step to press people involved in private economic activity to give more of their resources to state coffers, said Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a DPRK economy expert at the US-based Stimson Center think-tank.
“Auditing is often code for greater scrutiny into the financial affairs of various organs, institutions and enterprises,” he said. “And this scrutiny, in turn, often entails the state scavenging for more money and resources.”
The congress last met in 2016, where Kim announced the first five-year economic plan since the 1980s and vowed to not use nuclear weapons unless the country’s sovereignty was infringed by others with nuclear arms.
The 2016 congress was also when Kim Jong-un was officially elected to the position of chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party.
Last year, Kim vowed to make a “frontal breakthrough” in the country’s campaign to build a self reliant economy in the face of tightening sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programmes.
HONG KONG NEWS