© Reuters. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addresses a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in North Korea


SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced that the ruling party will hold a congress next year to decide a new five-year plan, with a party meeting noting serious delays in improving the national economy, state media said on Thursday.

The plenary meeting of the ruling Party on Wednesday decided to convene a congress in January to set forth “a correct line of struggle and strategic and tactical policies” after reviewing lessons from the past five years, the official KCNA news agency said.

The meeting comes as the isolated country deals with international sanctions and struggles to contain the novel coronavirus and cope with damage from recent flooding after weeks of heavy rain.

Kim noted in a speech at the meeting that North Korea had faced both “unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects and the situation in the region,” KCNA reported.

The plenary meeting called the implementation of the decisions made at the last congress an “indomitable struggle” and said the party had made “a great revolutionary turn,” it reported.

“On the other hand, economy was not improved in the face of the sustaining severe internal and external situations and unexpected manifold challenges,” KCNA quoted the plenary as saying.

“Thereby planned attainment of the goals for improving the national economy have been seriously delayed and the people’s living standard not been improved remarkably.”

The congress last met in 2016, where Kim announced the first five-year economic plan since the 1980s and vowed to not use nuclear weapons unless the country’s sovereignty was infringed by others with nuclear arms.

The 2016 congress was also when Kim Jong Un was officially elected to the position of chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Last year, Kim vowed to make a “frontal breakthrough” in the country’s campaign to build a self reliant economy in the face of tightening sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear and missile programmes.

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