North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un plans to concentrate on food and the economy in 2022

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made no mention of the United States in an agenda-setting statement at the close of a critical ruling-party meeting on Saturday. 

Instead of the policy positions on diplomacy that have been the center of Kim’s New Year comments in recent years, he spoke at a Workers’ Party of Korea plenary about food and development. 

The impoverished, nuclear-armed country has been enslaved by a self-imposed coronavirus blockade that has wreaked havoc on its economy and caused food shortages. 

 The pendemic and resulting border restriction caused the North’s economy to shrink for the first time in over two decades in 2020. 

Concerns have increased in the country about a full-fledged food crisis, with a UN human rights specialist warning in October that the most vulnerable were “at risk of starvation”. 

Kim, who came to power when his father Kim Jong Il died little over a decade ago, said at the party meeting that fighting the pandemic was one of the top priorities for the coming year. 

While the leader made no direct mention of the US or South Korea, he did say Pyongyang would continue to improve its military capabilities. 

Pyongyang is subject to a number of international sanctions as a result of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, which have advanced swiftly under Kim. 

However, despite the increasing economic position caused by the pandemic, North Korea has continued to pursue weapons development. 

Since the failure of the dialogue between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump in 2019, Pyongyang has kept away from nuclear talks. It has also rebuffed diplomatic efforts from South Korea. 

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