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Members of the Workers’ Party of Korea at a rally in Pyongyang. Members of the Workers’ Party of Korea gather at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sept. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Jon Chol Jin).

As North Korea’s Economy Reels, Kim Looks to Tighten Control

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020

North Korea’s young dictator is not known for issuing mea culpas. Yet, when Kim Jong Un announced last month that the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea will convene for its eighth congress in January 2021, he also acknowledged that the regime’s current economic strategy is not working. The party will thus adopt a new “five-year plan for national economic development” when it meets next year.

In one sense, this is a hopeful signal, given that such pragmatic admissions of failure are rare for North Korean leaders. But the announcement also underscored the depth of the country’s economic troubles. It is a symbolic sign of just how radically Pyongyang has had to shift its economic ambitions downward over the past few years, with the global recession amid the COVID-19 pandemic posing an added difficulty. ...

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