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N. Korea Acknowledges Economic Shortfalls amid 'Unexpected Challenges'

Hot Issues of the Week2020-08-23


According to North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency(KCNA) on Thursday, leader Kim Jong-un vowed to put forth a new five-year economic development plan when the ruling Workers' Party convenes in January.

Kim made the remark on Wednesday during a plenary meeting of the party's Central Committee, assessing both achievements and shortcomings under the current five-year development plan introduced in May 2016.

The KCNA said the current plan has fallen far short of its goals and failed to improve the lives of people in the face of "tough internal and external circumstances and unexpected challenges."

It is speculated that the North came short of achieving its goals due to global sanctions on the regime, aggravated by its continuous struggle to defend its borders from COVID-19 and damage from the recent heavy rain.

What's noteworthy is that the party congress is scheduled to be held the same month as the inauguration of the U.S. president, suggesting that the North may wait for the outcome of the November election before drawing up its foreign policy plans.

Should President Donald Trump win a second term in office, Pyongyang may seek to break the prolonged denuclearization impasse with Washington and ultimately secure sanctions relief.

But if Democratic Party nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden wins and adopts the Barack Obama administration's "strategic patience" policy, the North may have to return to old ways of ramping up pressure through shows of deterrence.

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