Kim lays blame at officials for N. Korea's economic failures

Kim lays blame at officials for N. Korea's economic failures


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ripped into the performance of his Cabinet and fired a senior economic official he appointed a month ago, saying they'd failed to come up with new ideas to salvage an economy in decay.

The report by state media on Friday comes during the toughest period of Kim's nine-year rule. The diplomacy he had hoped would lift U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear program is stalemated, and pandemic border closures and crop-killing natural disasters last year deepened the damage to an economy broken by decades of policy failures.

Some analysts say the current challenges may set up conditions for an economic perfect storm in the North that destabilizes markets and triggers public panic and unrest.

The current challenges had forced Kim to publicly admit that past economic plans hadn't succeeded. A new five-year plan to develop the economy was issued during the ruling Workers’ Party congress in January, but Kim’s comments during the party's Central Committee meeting that ended Thursday were rich with frustration with how the plans were being executed so far.

During Thursday’s session, Kim lamented that the Cabinet was failing in its role as the key institution managing the economy, saying it was producing unworkable plans while displaying no “innovative viewpoint and clear tactics.”

He said the Cabinet’s targets for agricultural production this year were set unrealistically high, considering limited supplies in farming materials and other unfavorable conditions. He said the Cabinet’s targets for electricity production was set too low, showing a lack of urgency when shortages could stall work at coal mines and other industries.

“The Cabinet failed to play a leading role in mapping out plans of key economic fields and almost mechanically brought together the...

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