North Korean leader Kim Jong Un urged citizens to prepare for a “difficult” crisis after being warned by human rights groups that the country is facing serious food shortages and economic instability.
At the party convention, Kim seemed to compare the situation to the infamous deadly famine of the 1990s.
North Korea has closed its border due to a coronavirus pandemic.
It stagnated trade with its economic lifeline, China.
This is also in addition to the existing international economic sanctions on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Authoritarian leaders told party leaders Thursday, “doing another more difficult’Ardus March’to free our people from any difficulty,” while rarely admitting the oncoming difficulties. I asked.
Arduous March is a term used by North Korean authorities to refer to the North Korean struggle during the devastating famine of the 1990s when the collapse of the Soviet Union left North Korea without significant assistance. It is estimated that about 3 million people died during that period.
“It’s not uncommon for Kim Jong Un to talk about difficulties and difficulties, but this time the language is pretty strict and it’s different,” NK News North Korean analyst Colin Zwillko told the BBC.
“For example, last October, He gave a speech saying he couldn’t make enough change himself.. But it is not what he said earlier to explicitly mention that he decided to carry out the new Ardus March. “
Earlier this week, Kim warned that the country was facing “the worst situation in history” and “an unprecedented number of challenges.”
How bad is the situation?
There have been months of warnings that North Koreans are struggling.
Reports of hardship seem to come especially from towns near the border with China. Smuggling would have been a big earner for many there.
Prices for corn, the most staple food in rural North Korea, have been reported to fluctuate significantly, with wages of a kilogram of corn exceeding a month.
Human Rights Watch researcher Lina Yun said in a recent report Quoting the country’s unnamed contact, he states, “Currently, for almost two months, few foods have entered the country from China.”
“There are more beggers, and some have died of hunger in the border areas. No soap, toothpaste, or batteries.”
Thomas Ojea Quintana, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in North Korea, Warned last month in a report of a “serious food crisis” It has already led to malnutrition and hunger.
“Deaths from hunger have been reported, and an increasing number of children and the elderly are begging because their families are unable to support them.”
It is currently unknown if there is any aid in this country.
Kim Jong Un has expressed his support within the party as the times get tougher. He confirms that the warning is coming from him-perhaps when things get worse, he can blame his officials for not following his orders.
He can also blame the Covid-19 pandemic and strict economic sanctions designed to curb his nuclear weapons program for a dire economy.
Still, his administration continues to design and test new missiles.
Weapon testing is something we all can see in satellite images and state media photos, and we use them to ask world leaders how they behave.
North Koreans cannot get the image of suffering us without the risk of being imprisoned or shot.
Invisible, and according to warnings from their own leaders, they are now facing hunger in the oncoming humanitarian crisis.
Why is North Korea in trouble?
North Korea’s economy is tightly controlled by the government, one of the least flexible countries in the world, and is said to be extremely inefficient.
The enormous costs of maintaining a military and security structure are left to little for ordinary North Koreans.
International economic sanctions imposed to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear program have exacerbated it, as well as continuing to close its borders to prevent the coronavirus.
Trade with China ceased from early 2020, blocking an important lifeline of formal and informal supply to China.
And there are signs that Pyongyang is feeling pressure to reopen its borders, at least a little bit, Zwirko said.
“North Korea is showing signs of wanting to increase trade with China again. They passed a law a few months ago to support border trade in facilities,” he said.
“But basically, North Korea remains very paranoid to the virus. They will really have to change and trust their ability to disinfect passing goods.”
North Korea has so far claimed that the border closure has kept it covid-free, but analysts doubt this claim.