North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed all-out efforts to bolster his country’s nuclear deterrent during a major ruling party meeting where he earlier laid out plans to work toward salvaging the broken economy.
Separately, Kim’s powerful sister criticized South Korea’s military for saying it had seen an apparent military parade taking place in Pyongyang.
Kim Yo Jong, who was described last year as being in charge of inter-Korean relations, said in a statement Wednesday that such close tracking proved Seoul’s “hostile approach” toward its rival. The eight-day Workers’ Party congress that ended Tuesday came as Kim Jong Un faces what appears to be the toughest moment of his nine-year rule.
Pandemic-related border closures and floods and typhoons that wiped out summer crops further shocked an economy already devastated by mismanagement and US-led sanctions over his nuclear weapons program.
“While further strengthening our nuclear war deterrent, we need to invest every effort to build the strongest military capabilities,” Kim said during his closing remarks at the congress, which were published by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.
Kim also called for reasserting greater state control over the economy, boosting agricultural production and prioritizing the development of chemicals and metal industries in a five-year plan.
Outside experts say such sectors would be crucial to North Korean hopes to revitalise industrial production that has been decimated by sanctions and halted imports of factory materials amid the pandemic.
The economic setbacks have left Kim with nothing to show for his high-stakes summitry with President Donald Trump.