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North Korea |  Kim Jong Un calls for closing “big gaps” in living standards

North Korea | Kim Jong Un calls for closing “big gaps” in living standards

(Seoul) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for improving living standards in North Korea's rural areas, saying the failure to provide basic necessities represents a “serious political problem,” KCNA reported Thursday.

“Today, the inability to provide people in local areas with basic necessities such as spices, foodstuffs and consumer goods in a satisfactory manner has become a serious political problem that our party and government cannot avoid,” Kim Jong Un said.

From Tuesday to Wednesday, Mr. Kim chaired a Workers' Party meeting with regional development high on the agenda, according to KCNA.

The first figure in North Korea in particular pointed to “serious imbalances and large gaps” between the regions while the overall situation of the regional economy is “in a terrible situation.”

“At present, the task of improving the material and cultural living standards of the residents of the regions is a very urgent task,” he added.

The nuclear-armed state has a fragile economy and has often been accused of prioritizing its banned military and missile programs at the expense of the well-being of its people.

North Korea was hit by famine several times, and hundreds of thousands of people died – some estimates run into the millions – in the mid-1990s.

Experts say North Korea's economy has only declined since the reclusive country closed its borders in 2020 to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, undermining its foreign trade and causing its foreign currency reserves to melt.

Despite this dire economic situation, Pyongyang has accelerated its weapons tests in 2024, including tests of an “undersea nuclear weapons system” and a solid-fueled hypersonic ballistic system.

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