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Thu Aug 20, 2020, 09:24 PM

Kim Jong Un Warns on Economy, Promotes Sister, in Sign of Crisis

Kim Jong Un issued a dire warning for North Korea’s economy amid reports that he delegated some power to his sister, including responsibility for relations with the U.S.

Kim told a gathering of ruling party leaders that the country “faced unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects” and that his development goals had been “seriously delayed,” state media said Thursday. The unusually candid assessment came as sanctions, flooding and the coronavirus pandemic pushed the North Korean economy toward what was expected to be its worst contraction in more than two decades.

Hours later, South Korean lawmakers told reporters that the country’s spy agency determined that Kim had delegated responsibility for relations with Seoul and Washington to his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. While she had taken an increasingly public role in diplomatic matters, such as responding to a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, one lawmaker described a more formal power-sharing arrangement.

North Korea also announced plans for the first national congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea since 2016 next year. The key party meeting in January would provide another platform to promote prominent officials such as his sister, and purge others. Last week, Kim replaced the premier he appointed a little more than a year ago, in another sign of political tension in Pyongyang.


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