North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has warned that the country’s already dire economic crisis faces additional challenges, amid reports Thursday that he has relinquished some of his power to his sister.
“Planned attainment of the goals for improving the national economy have been seriously delayed and the people’s living standard has not been improved remarkably,” Kim told members of North Korea’s Central Committee recently, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Thursday. Kim added that the communist country “faced unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects,” according to the report.
The North Korean regime’s admission of a worsening economic crisis comes as little surprise, as the severely isolated country battles economic sanctions imposed to deter its hostile nuclear activity, summer flooding, and a devastating coronavirus outbreak that, although officially denied by authorities, forced the nation to close its borders in January. The border closures have caused an additional crisis over food shortages in the country; over 40 percent of the population was already considered food insecure prior to the pandemic, according to the U.N.
Hours after Kim’s remarks on the economy, South Korea’s spy agency said it had determined that Kim recently delegated some responsibility for relations with Seoul and Washington to his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, South Korean lawmakers told journalists Thursday.
“[South Korea] Intelligence committee member Ha Tae-keung, who was among National Assembly lawmakers briefed by the spy agency Thursday, said the move didn’t indicate that Kim was adopting a ‘collective leadership’ system similar to China’s Communist Party,” Bloomberg noted on Thursday. “The absolute power of Kim Jong-un is being shared under the current leadership style of North Korea,” Ha said.
According to Ha, officials from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) insisted that Kim’s rule over North Korea remains absolute, Sky News reported on Friday. There are no signs that Kim Jong-un is experiencing health problems or is grooming his sister as his successor, Ha paraphrased NIS officials as saying.