Kim Jong Un warns of ‘tense’ food situation in North Korea
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North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has warned of potential food shortages in the Hermit Kingdom as photos showing his own weight loss are scrutinized by analysts around the world.
According to the country’s official KCNA propaganda arm, the 37-year-old Kim opened a plenary session of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee Tuesday by urging officials to find ways to boost agricultural production and noting that “the people’s food situation is now getting tense.”
North Korea’s economy has deteriorated as a result of Pyongyang’s decision to close its border with China due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the agricultural sector was devastated over last summer by a series of typhoons and floods.
Similar natural disasters, along with government incompetence, played a major role in the devastating famine of the 1990s, which is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of North Koreans.
Monitors assessing the situation say they have yet to see signs of mass starvation or major instability in North Korea, but some analysts say conditions could be aligning for a perfect storm that undercuts food and exchange markets and triggers public panic.
The South Korean government’s Korea Development Institute said last month the North could face food shortages of around 1 million tons this year.
The whispers about potential shortages are unlikely to be quieted by recently released images of a noticeably slimmer Kim. The pictures, which show the despot with a noticeably thinner face and tighter wristwatch band, have provided observers with fresh fodder to discuss Kim’s rumored health problems, which include diabetes, high blood pressure, and hereditary heart problems.
In the same address, Kim raised the specter of keeping North Korea’s pandemic-induced lockdown in place, telling delegates to “maintain perfect anti-epidemic state under the present condition.”
North Korea claims not to have had a single case of COVID-19, which experts scoff at due to the country’s poor health infrastructure and porous border with China.
With Post wires
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