North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un admitted that his country’s economic development plan had fallen short in “almost all areas” as he opened a rare congress of the ruling Workers’ Party, South Korean media reported on Wednesday.
Kim called the past five years “unprecedented” and the “worst of the worst” time for the country.
“The surest and fastest way to tackle the current multiple challenges facing us is to make every possible effort to strengthen our own power and our own self-reliant capacity,” he was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying.
Kim lauded party workers for ensuring “stable situations against the coronavirus from beginning to end”.
Pyongyang insists that it has not had a single case of the disease.
The meet comes weeks ahead of US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
The Congress gathering was the first in five years and only the eight in the nation’s history. Over 7,000 delegates and attendees packed into the cavernous hall, none of them wearing masks.
The last congress in 2016 cemented Kim Jong Un’s status as supreme leader and the inheritor of his family’s dynastic rule, which spans 70 years.
The current gathering reflected the “urgent need for internal solidarity”, said defector-turned-researcher Ahn Chan-il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul.
A parade also accompanied the 2016 party congress, a meeting that lasted four days.
Kim’s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il never held a party congress during his rule but the current leader appears to be following a regular five-year timetable.