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NK calls for strengthened discipline ahead of key party meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a politburo session of the Workers' Party on Friday, according to the Korean Central News Agency's report on Saturday. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a politburo session of the Workers' Party on Friday, according to the Korean Central News Agency's report on Saturday. (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea’s official newspaper on Monday urged officials to strengthen discipline in executing the country’s economic goals ahead of an important party meeting this month.

The Rodong Sinmun stressed that the five-year economic development plan laid out early this year was an order from the ruling Workers’ Party and was the “nation’s law,” one that all North Koreans were obliged to execute.

To strengthen discipline, the paper urged the officials to “strictly” report and analyze the progress of the business projects under the economic plan.

The regime’s tough words follow a Politburo meeting Friday, presided over by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his first public appearance in about a month. At Friday’s meeting Kim called a plenary session of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee in early June to discuss ways to improve the country’s deteriorating economy.

The plenary session’s purpose is to review state affairs for the first half of this year, to implement new measures and to correct “deflective matters,” according to the state media. The report did not specify a date, but the meeting is expected to take place soon.

The last plenary meeting was held in February, when Kim blasted his officials for their “passive and self-protecting tendencies” in setting economic goals this year.

North Korea’s deteriorating economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The reclusive regime was one of the first countries to shut down its borders, and it suspended all trade to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, dealing a blow to an already fragile economy that was suffering the fallout from international sanctions.

Early this year Kim, conceding that the nation’s previous five-year economic plan had failed to meet its targets in “almost every sector,” rolled out a new economic plan for the next five years, centering on “self-reliance” and “self-sufficiency.”

At the upcoming plenary session, observers expect economic issues to top the agenda. The North may also send messages to Washington and Seoul, having so far ignored calls to resume the nuclear talks that have remained stalled since 2019. 

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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