North Korea and the pandemic – January 2022
The impacts of COVID-19 have been far-reaching in crunching supply chains and pushing up consumer prices. Since January 2020, North Korea’s self-imposed blockade in an attempt to thwart the spread of the virus has now created a gaping void in their food supply. In a recent ruling party meeting, Kim Jong-un has stated the national priority of the coming year will to be focus on the economy, increasing development and improving people’s living standards. The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) mentioned Mr. Kim has acknowledged the harsh conditions imposed in 2021 and set goals to make ‘radical progress in solving the food, clothing and housing problem for the people’.
Reports had been given earlier that citizen in North Korea were facing food shortages, heightening concerns as winter approaches with a full-blown food crisis. Kim's emphatic statement of North Korea’s "great life-or-death struggle" in 2022 echoes last April's rhetoric urging officials to prepare for another "Arduous March", referencing North Korea's greatest economic crisis and famine in the 1990s. International agencies have also addressed the concerns of growing food insecurity and starvation where Kim’s emphasis on driving a national economic plan with rural development and ‘scientific farming’ is now setting expectations of addressing the economic struggles and prioritising the citizens’ needs.