Kim Jong Un Admits Economic Plans Have Failed, Offers Veiled Glimpse at Plans for North Korean Military


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to strengthen the country’s military defenses in a speech at a major ruling party meeting.

Kim expressed his “will to reliably protect the security of the country and people and the peaceful environment of the socialist construction by placing the state defense capabilities on a much higher level, and put forth goals for realizing it,” the Korean Central News Agency said on Thursday.

The state media report on Kim’s speech to the Workers’ Party congress the previous day didn’t elaborate.

North Korea has previously underscored its need for nuclear weapons and missiles as a deterrent to what it describes as American hostility.

Cheong Seong-Chang, a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Asia Program, said Kim’s speech likely contained “sensitive contents” that could provoke the United States and South Korea.

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Kim has openly pledged to expand his nuclear capability that he says already puts the American mainland within striking range. However, he has halted high-profile weapons tests.

This year’s congress — the first in five years — comes as Kim faces what appears to be his toughest moment since taking power in late 2011.

North Korea has been shaken by what he calls “multiple crises” including pandemic-related border closings, a series of natural disasters and U.S. sanctions.

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On the first day of the congress on Tuesday, Kim admitted his previous economic development plans had failed, saying that “almost all sectors fell a long way short of the set objectives.”

He said the congress would work out a new five-year development plan.

State media didn’t provide much detail on Kim’s economic review. Cheong said North Korea likely didn’t want foreign experts to learn of its poor economic performance.

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