North Korea to focus on economy in 2022

File Photo North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's return to testing missiles will be getting the attention of the White House. Photo Courtesy: Reuters

(BBC): North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has said the faltering economy will be the national priority this year as the country faces a “great life-and-death struggle”.

He was speaking at the end of a key ruling party meeting, which coincides with him being in power for 10 years.

A self-imposed coronavirus blockade has left North Korea struggling with food shortages.

There was no direct mention of the US or South Korea in his speech.

Mr Kim said increasing development and improving people’s living standards was the main task.

He acknowledged the “harsh situation” in 2021 and and set “an important task for making radical progress in solving the food, clothing and housing problem for the people”, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

He said battling the pandemic was one of the main goals for the coming year: “Emergency epidemic prevention work should be made a top priority in the state work,” he is quoted as saying by KCNA.

But he also said Pyongyang would continue to strengthen its defence capabilities because of an increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean peninsula.

He was speaking on Friday at the end of the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which began on Monday.

There were reports earlier this year that people in the country were going hungry, giving rise to concerns as winter approached about a full-blown food crisis.

The border has been closed since January 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from China.