mandag 12. oktober 2020

October 10 was supposed to be a major celebration for Kim Jong Un. Instead he faces his most daunting challenges to date

When the world's youngest dictator addressed his 25 million or so people on May 7, 2016, he made a bold promise. In just five years, the livelihoods of all North Koreans would be markedly improved, said Kim Jong Un, then 32 years old. North Korea would become a "highly civilized socialist country" whose people would enjoy the "conditions and environment for leading a wealthy and a highly civilized life to their heart's content," Kim said. The goal was ambitious bordering on impossible.

At the time, North Korea was one of the world's poorest countries, and an international pariah restrained by economic sanctions for its dogged pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Kim appeared confident that, after purging dozens of officials who served under his father, a new cohort of leaders under his stewardship could turn things around. But the economic vision Kim laid out at that major conference in 2016 -- the first Workers' Party of Korea Congress since 1980 -- was not supported by any details other than a vague five-year plan, the economic agendas common among 20th century communist states.