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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says his plans for economic development failed when, according to state media, he opened the government’s first full convention in five years

Mr. Kim said that “almost all sectors have lagged far behind,” reports the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) under a five-year development plan set at Congress in 2016

“We should continue to promote and build on the victories and successes we have achieved at the expense of sweat and blood and prevent the painful lessons from repeating themselves,” Mr Kim is quoted as saying

The Labor Congress – one of the biggest propaganda spectacles in the country – is designed to help Mr. Kim show a concerned nation that he is in control and strengthen the unity behind his leadership in the face of COVID-19 and other growing business challenges

However, some observers are skeptical that the stage-administered Congress will find basic solutions to North Korea’s troubles, many of which stem from decades of economic mismanagement and Kim’s headlong pursuit of expensive nuclear weapons targeting mainland America should

Mr. Kim, 36, is holding Congress, which is expected to last a few days, amid perhaps the most difficult challenge of his nine years’ reign and what has been called the “multiple crises” “

North Korea’s already besieged economy is plagued by pandemic border closings with China, the North’s main economic lifeline, the aftermath of a string of natural disasters last summer, and ongoing US-led sanctions against its nuclear program

US President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office later this month, is likely to uphold sanctions and avoid meeting Mr. Kim face-to-face until North Korea takes significant steps toward denuclearization

Congress met in Pyongyang to determine “a new line of struggle and strategic and tactical policy,” which was attended by thousands of delegates and observers, KCNA reported

In his speech, Mr. Kim described his government’s current troubles as “the worst” and “unprecedented,” according to KCNA

Mr. Kim requested a new five-year plan, reviewing the current status of North Korean metal, chemical, electrical and other key industries and setting unspecified tasks for future development, KCNA said

Also last year, he said that North Korea lacks modern medical facilities and that the anti-disaster conditions in the coastal areas are “bad” “

Few experts doubt that Mr Kim is in control of power, however, a prolonged coronavirus-related lockdown could further destabilize food and currency markets and worsen livelihoods in North Korea

It’s known for rocket launches and one of the most authoritative regimes in the world, but North Korea recently wanted to be known for something else: avoiding a coronavirus outbreak

Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said that “the fundamental problem” is that “Kim wants regime-sustaining economic growth while maintaining nuclear weapons”

“Pyongyang is therefore likely to ask for sanctions easing just to ease tension rather than making progress on denuclearization,” he said

The US-led sanctions were tightened after Mr. Kim’s unusually aggressive nuclear and missile tests in 2016 and 2017

Even so, Mr. Kim has repeatedly pushed for an expansion of his nuclear arsenal to deal with what he calls US hostility

After the border with China was closed for a year, the bilateral trade volume fell by around 80 percent in the first eleven months of last year, said analyst Song Jaeguk of the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul

North Korea’s GDP is estimated to have contracted 93 percent in 2020, he said

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World news – AU – “The worst of all time”: North Korean head of state Kim Jong-un says the economic plans have failed