Facing deep economic troubles at home, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has now expressed his desire to improve North Korea’s ties with rest of the world, state media KCNA has reported from the third day of a major political conference.
According to the Associated Press, Kim is also looking to review relations with rival South Korea at the first congress of the ruling Workers’ Party in five years.
In his speech on the third day of the meeting on Thursday, Kim reportedly “declared the general orientation and the policy stand of our party for comprehensively expanding and developing the external relations,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Friday.
Kim also examined relations with South Korea “as required by the prevailing situation and the changed times,” KCNA said.
The congress is the party’s top decision-making body that reviews past projects, lays out new priorities and reshuffles top officials. It was convened as Kim struggles to overcome “multiple crises” caused by an economy battered by pandemic-related border closings, a series of natural disasters and US-led economic sanctions.
In his opening-day speech, Kim reportedly admitted his previous economic plans had failed and vowed to adopt a new five-year development plan. On the second day of the meeting, he said he would bolster his country’s military capability.
Kim, who inherited power upon his father Kim Jong Il’s death in late 2011, turned 37 on Friday. His birthday hasn’t yet been designated a national holiday like his father’s and grandfather’s. KCNA said the congress would continue, suggesting it was having a fourth-day session on Kim’s birthday.
During Thursday’s session, Kim also called for “thoroughly eliminating non-socialist elements” in North Korean society and proposed ways to promote the “might of the social system of our state,” KCNA said. The North Korean government has been cracking down on what it calls “alien, unsound non-socialist practices.”