North Korean leader Kim Jong Un convened a meeting of ruling party officials to discuss improving the country’s economy and agricultural sector as fears of food shortages and a humanitarian crisis grow.
According to international experts, food insecurity has worsened in the isolated country as a result of sanctions and COVID-19 lockdowns. On February 26, Kim presided over the seventh enlarged plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, which reviewed rural development projects, according to state news agency.
The gathering approved agenda items on its first day. The meeting is still going on, according to the report. In announcing the meeting in February, state news agency stated that it was “a very important and urgent task to establish the correct strategy for agricultural development.”
The North Korean food situation appears to have worsened, according to South Korean officials, who cite the meeting as a de facto acknowledgment of severe shortages.
The 38 North program, based in the United States, reported last month that “food availability has likely fallen below the bare minimum with regard to human needs,” with food insecurity at its worst since the 1990s famines.
North Korea is subject to strict international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, and its limited border trade has been virtually suffocated in recent years by self-imposed blockades aimed at preventing COVID-19.