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North Korea Is in 'Great Crisis'

Kim Jong-Un berated his top officials in a high-level meeting.
IMAGE ALEXANDER KHITROV
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In a rare sign of unfolding turmoil in North Korea, state outlet KCNA has published a report that gives a glimpse of the real situation in the hermit country. 

In the report, “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-Un was said to have given a dressing down of his generals, because he was not satisfied with the country’s pandemic response. According to the report, Kim described his generals as lazy and negligent of their duties, pretending to work while doing nothing. 

“He expressed the will to wage an offensive, ceaseless and strong struggle to rid the cadres of non-revolutionary fighting attitude, viewpoint and deeds, making it clear that the Party never reserves any right to cover those cadres who just pretend to work being only keen on maintaining their positions, not being sincerely solicitous for the country and the people,” wrote KCNA, referring to Kim Jong-Un’s speech at the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). 

Kim was reported as saying that government officials had neglected their responsibilities in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a “great crisis” in the country. 

According to the report, Kim accused senior officials of causing a “crucial case of creating a great crisis in ensuring the security of the state and safety of the people and entailed grave consequences.”

The news was uncharacteristically sobering coming from KCNA, which is a heavily screened outlet that typically publishes rosy reports of North Korea’s triumphs—one of their recent headlines reads: “Agricultural Workers in DPRK Harden Their Will to Reap Good Harvest."

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The rare insight into the high-level meeting of top government officials could also be a sign that the North badly needs international aid. Ever since the pandemic started, North Korea has sealed its borders with China, its only ally and a major supplier of essential goods. That resulted in food shortages and skyrocketing prices in the country, according to the BBC

Prior to the KCNA report on June 30, the official press release from North Korea was that there were no COVID-19 cases in the country. That is apparently not the case. 

North Korea has a population of 25 million. In 2019, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that 10 million North Koreans are in urgent need of food assistance.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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