Pandemic, typhoon has made food situation tense: Kim Jong-un

North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un called for measures to tackle the country’s food situation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and last year’s typhoons that damaged the harvest, state media reported on Wednesday.

At a general meeting of the governing Workers’ Party’s central committee, he said the overall economy had improved in the first half of the year, with total industrial output growing 25 percent from a year before, state news agency KCNA said.

But he noted “a series of deviations” in the party’s efforts to implement the plans due to several obstacles, singling out tight food supplies.

“The people’s food situation is now getting tense as the agricultural sector failed to fulfil its grain production plan due to the damage by typhoon last year,” Kim said.

The committee was also tasked to achieve its new five-year economic plan outlined at its previous session in February, including increased food and metal production.

North Korea has not officially confirmed any COVID-19 cases. But the reclusive country has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel restrictions.

COVAX, a global initiative for sharing COVID-19 vaccines with poor countries, has said it will provide nearly two million doses to North Korea but the shipment has been delayed.

This was Kim’s third such meeting this year alone. The Workers’ Party’s central committee usually meets to discuss ‘the current international situation and the party’s corresponding direction’.

The meeting has drawn attention amid expectations that Pyongyang could also unveil its policy towards Washington and Seoul, after the new administration of US President Joe Biden completed its review of North Korea policy.