Kim jong un – Banzai Runner Pantera http://banzairunnerpantera.com/ Sat, 26 Jun 2021 03:39:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.2 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/cropped-icon-32x32.png Kim jong un – Banzai Runner Pantera http://banzairunnerpantera.com/ 32 32 North Korea battered by currency and food price fluctuations https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-battered-by-currency-and-food-price-fluctuations/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-battered-by-currency-and-food-price-fluctuations/#respond Fri, 25 Jun 2021 03:30:26 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-battered-by-currency-and-food-price-fluctuations/

North Korea has been hit by sharp fluctuations in currency and food prices as economic pressures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and international sanctions create new risks for Kim Jong Un.

Volatility is expected to worsen the plight of many of North Korea’s 25 million people. It could also undo the country’s unofficial trading system, known as the jangmadang, and increase instability.

The North Korean won has appreciated about 30% against the US dollar and 40% against the Chinese renminbi since the start of the pandemic, according to the Daily NK, a website that tracks North Korean markets. .

“There is real price inflation in the market right now, which is pretty scary. At the same time, fuel prices are quite heavily inflated and forex prices – the dollar and renminbi against the won – have collapsed, ”said Peter Ward, a Seoul-based North Korea expert at the same time. ‘University of Vienna.

Pyongyang has mainly isolated the country from foreign trade and aid since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, fearing the impact of uncontrolled transmission of the virus. The damage caused by the typhoon last year has exacerbated economic pressure.

Experts attributed the currency and currency movements to the combination of collapsed trade and the state’s efforts to remove foreign currencies from domestic circulation.

William Brown, a former U.S. intelligence officer who heads Northeast Asia Economics and Intelligence Advisory, a consultancy firm, said monetary stability had been a hallmark of Kim’s reign. This stimulated the development of the market after periods of inflation and currency depreciation under Kim Jong Il, his father.

The “wild swings” risked increasing the level of popular despair in the country, Brown wrote for 38 North, a program run by the Stimson Center, an American think tank. “At some point, even now, inflation may appear to him to be a greater enemy of stability. . . than the United States, ”he added.

The shortage of cross-border trade, which appears to have reduced demand for foreign currency, coupled with the regime’s efforts to limit the use of the renminbi and the dollar, pushed up the won’s value, analysts said. Meanwhile, prices of staple foods, especially rice and grains, have risen in recent weeks, indicating further disruptions in supply.

Go Myong-hyun, an expert on North Korean economics at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a Seoul-based think tank, noted that Kim had ordered the country to reduce its dependence on the “disease. »Imports, in line with recent measures aimed at centralizing control of the economy and squeezing the country’s elite.

“The North Korean system will avoid repeating the famine of the 1990s, the biggest story here is the North Korean regime’s efforts to suppress the market system. . . to me it is very clear that it goes after the jangmadang,” he said.

Kim’s regime is also looking to its army of hackers to raise funds, experts said.

Yana Blachman, a former Israeli intelligence officer who works for cybersecurity group Venafi, said the proceeds of cybercrime should be seen as the primary means of generating income. North Korean cybercriminals have raised billions of dollars in recent years through a wide range of schemes targeting banks and other financial-related institutions, including peer-to-peer lenders and cryptocurrency exchanges.

“Many attacks go unreported, especially in terms of smaller, unnoticed attacks like ransomware and cryptocurrencies,” she said.

The economic woes are being felt hard by North Koreans, many of whom are already food insecure, according to defectors who maintain communication with contacts in the country.

Kang Chol-hwan, a Seoul-based defector, said the prices of food and basic items have soared three to ten times.

“It’s like Kim’s regime is slowly coming to a standstill,” he said.

Another escapee Seo Jae-pyeong said food aid levels from China appeared to be dropping, despite early signs of increased shipments.

“Asking how many meals people are having is not the right question,” Seo said. “The question should be whether the soup is thin or thick.”


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Moon: ‘Kim Jong Un is very honest, has an international feel’: The DONG-A ILBO https://banzairunnerpantera.com/moon-kim-jong-un-is-very-honest-has-an-international-feel-the-dong-a-ilbo/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/moon-kim-jong-un-is-very-honest-has-an-international-feel-the-dong-a-ilbo/#respond Thu, 24 Jun 2021 22:29:02 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/moon-kim-jong-un-is-very-honest-has-an-international-feel-the-dong-a-ilbo/

In an interview with Time magazine, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “very honest… very enthusiastic. [and] one with strong determination. However, Time gave a completely opposite assessment of Kim, saying, “President Kim brutally murdered his uncle and half-brother, and according to the landmark 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry report, he orchestrated “crimes against humanity” including massacre, torture and rape and was responsible for a prolonged famine.

In the article titled “South Korean President Moon Jae-in Makes Final Attempt to Heal His Homeland,” President Moon replied “He has international meaning” when asked about Kim’s character. . When South Korean media interpreted the word “honest” used by Time in the article as “truthful,” the South Korean presidential office said on Thursday that President Moon had used the word “honest” rather than “truthful.” .

However, while carrying Moon’s responses, Time said, “For many North Korean observers, Moon’s steadfast defense against Kim borders on delusion,” noting that the South Korean government is weakening the campaigns. defense of human rights for the North. In the interview, Time described in detail the process from the start of the rapprochement following three inter-Korean summits in 2018 to the blocking of the Washington-Pyongyang talks since the “no deal” in Hanoi in February 2019, which was the second summit. United States-North Korea, and the agreement between the South Korean and American presidents “to coordinate closely on the approach to Pyongyang”.

“I know time is running out,” said President Moon Jae-in, citing Kim Jong Un’s remarks “It would be good if children did not bear the burden of nuclear weapons” as Moon revealed his renewed commitment to improve inter-Korean relations. According to Time, there are more reasons for President Moon to hope that a breakthrough will be made, and after the short-lived “bromance” between Kim and former US President Donald Trump ends, the obstacles to meetings will be over. lowered and meetings became politically safer.

The interview was conducted via videoconference on June 9 and featured on the cover of the magazine’s Asia edition. This is the first time in four years and two months that President Moon has appeared on the cover of the Asia edition of Time since the presidential election in May 2017.

Hyung-Jun Hwang constant25@donga.com


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Australians’ confidence in China has fallen to all-time high, latest annual Lowy Institute survey reveals https://banzairunnerpantera.com/australians-confidence-in-china-has-fallen-to-all-time-high-latest-annual-lowy-institute-survey-reveals/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/australians-confidence-in-china-has-fallen-to-all-time-high-latest-annual-lowy-institute-survey-reveals/#respond Tue, 22 Jun 2021 13:32:41 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/australians-confidence-in-china-has-fallen-to-all-time-high-latest-annual-lowy-institute-survey-reveals/

Confidence in China has plunged to new lows in Australia, with more than 60% of those polled recently saying they saw the country as a security threat rather than an economic partner, and just 16% saying that they trusted Beijing to act responsibly in the world.

There has also been a surge in confidence in the United States, with seven in ten respondents expressing confidence in US President Joe Biden, almost 40 points higher than former President Donald Trump.

But there is little appetite for Australia to join a regional military conflict, with more than half of those polled saying Australia should “stay neutral” if there is a war between China and the states. -United.

The results are contained in the Lowy Institute’s 2021 survey of Australians’ attitudes to the world, with more than 2,200 Australians polled in March.

Natasha Kassam, of the Lowy Institute, said there had been a “dramatic” collapse in goodwill towards China since 2018, when only 12% of those polled saw Beijing as a security threat more than a partner. economic.

“The endless list of bilateral irritants and worrying stories – from the crackdown in Hong Kong to the detention of Uyghurs, sanctions against Australian industries and the plight of Australian citizens in China – has driven the relationship and public perception. at the lowest, she told ABC.

The survey showed that only 10% of those polled were convinced that Chinese President Xi Jinping “would do the right thing about global affairs” – a figure that has fallen by 33 points since 2018.

“We could certainly call it a radical change,” Ms. Kassam said.

“We see numbers for Xi Jinping that are comparable to how Australians see [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un.

“Last year when I was asked about these results [on China] I didn’t think they could fall any further, and yet here we are. “

Respondents were also quick to blame China for the deterioration in bilateral relations between the two countries, with 56 percent of those polled saying China carried more responsibility.

Another 38 percent said Australia and China were also to blame, while just 4 percent said Australia was more to blame.

Confidence in the US rebounds, but still falls short of the Obama years

Joe biden smiling
Most of those interviewed said the alliance with the United States was important for Australia’s security.(

AP: Andrew Harnik

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In contrast, there has been a modest upturn in confidence in the United States. Just over 60% of those polled told Lowy that they trust the United States, an increase of 10 points from last year.

Ms Kassam said confidence in the United States has not rebounded as strongly as it did in 2009 when Barack Obama took over the presidency and 83% of those polled told Lowy they trusted the United States .

“There is still some delay in the way Australians are warming up in the United States, both because of President Trump’s legacy but also because of the COVID-19 tragedy last year,” she declared.

“Almost all Australians agree that the United States has not handled the pandemic well and I think that continues to inform their point of view.”

Yet confidence in the US-Australia alliance remains high.

Of those polled, 78% said the alliance was important to the country’s security, while 76% said the two countries shared common values.

And 75 percent said they believe the United States will stand up for Australia if Australia comes under attack.

Only 36% of those polled said the alliance was losing its importance because the United States was in relative decline compared to China. This is a decrease of 10 points compared to 2019.

“These growing concerns about China have really brought Australia closer to the United States when it comes to the country’s security, defense and safety,” Ms. Kassam said.

Ms Kassam said there had been a clear change since 2016, when the Lowy Institute poll found respondents were unsure whether the country’s future rests with the United States or China.

“In 2016, if you asked Australians if our relationship with the United States or China was more important, it was a stalemate. The country was split 50-50,” she said.

“This is certainly not the case today, with sour sentiment towards China and [at] the timing is heating up in the United States. I have a feeling that maybe Australia has to choose a side, and the public recognizes that. “

But support for the alliance does not translate into enthusiasm for a war between the two great powers.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said Australia should remain neutral in the event of a conflict between the United States and China, although a substantial minority – 41 percent – said Australia should support the United States.

Only 1% said Australia should support China.

But concerns about the conflict over Taiwan have also risen sharply.

Just over half of those polled said a military conflict between the United States and China poses a critical threat to Australia – a 17% increase from last year.

COVID-19 threat drops, economic confidence rises

Ms Kassam said the results were not surprising and that several surveys had shown that most respondents did not want to be drawn into a war with China.

“We have consistently seen low levels of support for military deployment in a hypothetical scenario involving China,” she said.

“And I think most Australians agree that despite the frosty relationship, China is still Australia’s biggest trading partner.”

The poll also shows that broader confidence in Australia’s security has rebounded from record lows set in last year’s poll.

Of those polled, 70% said they felt “very safe” or “safe,” up 20% from 2020. This year, 59% said they considered COVID-19 as a critical threat, up from 76% in 2020.

Economic confidence has also increased significantly, with 79% of respondents saying they are “optimistic” or “very optimistic” about Australia’s economic performance globally – a jump of 27 points from 2020.


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North Korea at WHO – The New Indian Express https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-at-who-the-new-indian-express/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-at-who-the-new-indian-express/#respond Tue, 22 Jun 2021 07:59:00 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/north-korea-at-who-the-new-indian-express/

Through Associated Press

SEOUL: North Korea told the World Health Organization it had tested more than 30,000 people for the coronavirus until June 10, but has yet to find a single infection. The WHO said in a surveillance report on Tuesday that North Korea’s test figures included 733 people who were tested from June 4 to 10, 149 of whom had flu-like symptoms or severe respiratory infections.

Experts largely doubt North Korea’s claim that it has not had a single case of the virus, given its poor health infrastructure and porous border with China, its main ally and lifeline. economic rescue. Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” the North has banned tourists, expelled diplomats and severely restricted cross-border trafficking and commerce.

The self-imposed lockdown has put additional pressure on an economy already plagued by decades of mismanagement and crippling US-led sanctions against the country’s nuclear weapons program. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a political conference last week called on authorities to prepare for extended COVID-19 restrictions, saying the country is not ready to open its borders anytime soon.


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Assad in Syria is Kim Jong Un’s most frequent correspondent in first half of 2021 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/assad-in-syria-is-kim-jong-uns-most-frequent-correspondent-in-first-half-of-2021/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/assad-in-syria-is-kim-jong-uns-most-frequent-correspondent-in-first-half-of-2021/#respond Mon, 21 Jun 2021 08:41:24 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/assad-in-syria-is-kim-jong-uns-most-frequent-correspondent-in-first-half-of-2021/

Kim Jong Un and Syrian Bashar Assad exchanged correspondence 12 times in 2021, NK News North Korean state media analysis on Friday showed four times the frequency of Kim’s reported communications with Chinese Xi Jinping during the same period.

Last week Kim received a thank you note from the Syrian president for congratulating Assad “on his victory in the presidential election.” Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, the latest communication from one of Kim’s most frequently used leader-to-leader match lines in 2021.


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White House says Kim Jong Un’s “dialogue and confrontation” comments are an “interesting signal” https://banzairunnerpantera.com/white-house-says-kim-jong-uns-dialogue-and-confrontation-comments-are-an-interesting-signal/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/white-house-says-kim-jong-uns-dialogue-and-confrontation-comments-are-an-interesting-signal/#respond Sun, 20 Jun 2021 15:23:00 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/white-house-says-kim-jong-uns-dialogue-and-confrontation-comments-are-an-interesting-signal/

The United States said on Sunday it viewed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s comments as “an interesting signal” that he was ready for “dialogue and confrontation,” but added that Washington was still awaiting a communication. direct from Pyongyang to begin talks regarding denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In his first direct comments on the administration of US President Joe Biden, Kim urged to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the United States, especially the latter, the state news agency said on Friday. KCNA.

Speaking in an interview with ABC News, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Washington would still need a direct and clear response from Pyongyang expressing its readiness for talks.

“His comments this week are seen as an interesting signal and we will wait to see if they are followed up with any more direct communication with us on a potential way forward,” Sullivan said. “The clear signal they could send is to say ‘yes, let’s do it. Let’s sit down and start the negotiations.’”

Kim’s remarks came two days before the new US envoy to North Korea, Sung Kim, arrived in South Korea for his first visit since taking office last month.

He will meet with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts and meet other Seoul officials while he stays until June 23, the State Department said Thursday.

North Korea lashed out at the United States and its ally, South Korea, last month, saying Washington’s comments on its North Korean policies were evidence of a hostile approach that required a corresponding response from Pyongyang.


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The news of June 18, 2021: 1A: NPR https://banzairunnerpantera.com/the-news-of-june-18-2021-1a-npr/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/the-news-of-june-18-2021-1a-npr/#respond Fri, 18 Jun 2021 19:06:20 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/the-news-of-june-18-2021-1a-npr/

A man watches a TV screen showing news footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending the 8th Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party held in Pyongyang, at a train station in Seoul.

JUNG YEON-JE / AFP via Getty Images


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A man watches a TV screen showing news footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending the 8th Congress of the ruling Workers’ Party held in Pyongyang, at a train station in Seoul.

JUNG YEON-JE / AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer triggered the budget reconciliation process in the House of Congress, urging Democrats to pass the Biden administration’s U.S. Jobs and Family Plan through the Senate via a simple majority vote in July.

Nine years after the adoption of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (or DACA), Vice President Kamala Harris will organize a roundtable with a group of immigrant women ahead of the Biden administration’s push for bipartisan immigration reform.

Meanwhile abroad, President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin gathered for a summit in Geneva at the end of Biden’s European tour to discuss various issues, including election interference, Ukraine and Russian opposition leaders.

After his ouster from power, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed he would “come back.” Netanyahu was voted against the office on Sunday after 12 uninterrupted years in power. His government has been replaced by a faltering government coalition of opposition parties.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has informed officials of his ruling Workers’ Party that the country is closer and closer to the famine experience. One reportedly said: “The food situation of the population is now becoming tense.”

We cover these stories and more during the News Roundup.

Molly Ball, Eva mckend, and Julie appleby join us in discussing the national headlines.

Jennifer williams, David rennie, and Anne Gearan join us for the International News Roundup Hour.

Do you like what you hear ? Discover more of our programs online.




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Kim Jong Un promises to be ready to face the United States https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-promises-to-be-ready-to-face-the-united-states/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-promises-to-be-ready-to-face-the-united-states/#respond Fri, 18 Jun 2021 02:47:00 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-promises-to-be-ready-to-face-the-united-states/

Kim recently threatened to build high-tech weapons targeting the Americas if Washington’s policy towards North Korea does not change.

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered his government to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the Biden administration – but no longer the confrontation – media reported on Friday. State, days after the United States and others urged the North to abandon its nuclear program and resume talks.

Kim’s statement indicates he will likely push to bolster its nuclear arsenal and increase pressure on Washington to renounce what North Korea sees as hostile policy towards the North, although it is also preparing. the resumption of talks, according to some experts.

During a ruling party meeting on Thursday, Kim analyzed in detail the political tendencies of the United States under President Joe Biden and clarified the steps to be taken in relations with Washington, the central news agency said. Korean. He did not specify the steps.

Kim “stressed the need to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation, in particular to fully prepare for the confrontation in order to protect the dignity of our state” and to ensure national security, he said. declared.

In 2018-19, Kim hosted a series of summits with then-President Donald Trump to discuss the advancement of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But negotiations collapsed after Trump rejected Kim’s calls for extensive sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of his nuclear capacity.

The Biden administration has struggled to formulate a new approach to North Korea’s nuclear program that it calls “calibrated and practical.” Details of his North Korean policy have not been made public, but US officials have suggested Biden would seek common ground between Trump’s direct meetings with Kim and former President Barack’s “strategic patience” Obama to curb Kim’s nuclear program.

Earlier this week, leaders of the Group of Seven Rich Nations issued a statement calling for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the “verifiable and irreversible abandonment” of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. They called on North Korea to initiate and resume dialogue.

Sung Kim, the top US official on North Korea, is due to travel to Seoul on Saturday for a trilateral meeting with South Korean and Japanese officials. His trip underscores the importance of a three-way cooperation to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the State Department said.

Kim Jong Un recently threatened to expand its nuclear arsenal and manufacture high-tech weapons targeting the Americas if Washington refuses to abandon its hostile policy towards North Korea.

In March, Kim’s army conducted its first short-range ballistic missile tests in a year. But North Korea still maintains a moratorium on long-range missile testing and nuclear testing, indicating that Kim still wants to maintain the diplomatic outlook.

Kwak Gil Sup, director of One Korea Center, a website specializing in North Korean affairs, wrote on Facebook that Kim’s statement suggested he was taking a two-pronged approach to building military capabilities and preparing to the talks. But he said Kim would more likely focus on building military strength and reiterated his call for the United States to withdraw its hostile policy, rather than rushing back to talks.

Kim said last week that the North Korean military must remain on high alert to defend national security.

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Private Institute in South Korea said North Korea would likely resume talks but not accept a call for immediate and complete denuclearization. He said North Korea could accede to a proposal to freeze its atomic program and partially reduce its nuclear arsenal in stages if the Biden administration eases sanctions and suspends regular military exercises with South Korea.

Cha Duck Chul, deputy spokesperson for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said he was closely monitoring the ongoing political meeting with the North and wanted to stress again that the best way to achieve peace in the Korean Peninsula is dialogue.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang called for a resumption of dialogue between North Korea and the United States, saying that “we believe that the situation on the Korean peninsula is facing a new cycle of tension ”.

Kim called the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee meeting this week to review efforts to rebuild the economy, which has been severely crippled by border closures in the event of a pandemic, mismanagement amid US-led sanctions and storm damage to crops and infrastructure last year.

On Tuesday, Kim opened the meeting by warning of possible food shortages, urging officials to find ways to boost agricultural production as the country’s food situation “now becomes tense.” He also urged the country to prepare for extended COVID-19 restrictions, suggesting that North Korea would extend the closure of its border and other measures despite pressure on its economy.

Associated Press writer Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this report.


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Kim Jong Un admits North Korea faces “tense food situation” https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-admits-north-korea-faces-tense-food-situation/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-admits-north-korea-faces-tense-food-situation/#respond Thu, 17 Jun 2021 17:10:00 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-admits-north-korea-faces-tense-food-situation/

Kim told the Workers’ Party of Korea’s plenary meeting that the country was experiencing a “tense food situation,” the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Wednesday.

The secret country has cut itself off even more from the rest of the world during the pandemic. Speaking on Tuesday, Kim said the conditions and environment facing North Korea “deteriorated early this year,” even though its economy, overall, has improved.

He said the ruling party meeting should take stock of the problem, according to KCNA.

Kim did not disclose the extent of the shortages, but they appear to be serious. In April, KCNA reported that Kim had urged people to take another “hard march,” while addressing a high-level political meeting.

The term “hard march” refers to a period of devastating famine in the early 1990s, when North Korea’s economy collapsed following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which ended the influx of aid into the country.

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people, or up to 10% of the country’s population, have starved to death.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that North Korea is short of about 860,000 tonnes of food, enough for just over two months of supply.

In a report released on Monday, the FAO said North Korea officially plans to import only about a fifth of the food it needs to fill gaps in domestic shortages. He said that while North Korea has increased its agricultural plantings in 2020, the growth “mainly compensates for yield losses due to floods and storms” that the Korean peninsula experienced from early August to early September 2020.

The FAO has warned that if the supply gap is not covered by imports or aid, North Koreans could experience “a harsh lean season between August and October 2021”.

KCNA said the plenary meeting will focus on directing all efforts towards agriculture this year and dealing with the epidemic situation. Other topics listed in the report included the current international situation and the corresponding leadership of the ruling party, improving living standards and childcare, and discussing organizational issues.


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Kim Jong Un looks much slimmer, sparking health speculation: NPR https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-looks-much-slimmer-sparking-health-speculation-npr/ https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-looks-much-slimmer-sparking-health-speculation-npr/#respond Wed, 16 Jun 2021 11:53:20 +0000 https://banzairunnerpantera.com/kim-jong-un-looks-much-slimmer-sparking-health-speculation-npr/

Photos provided by the North Korean government show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Workers’ Party meetings in Pyongyang, North Korea on February 8 (left) and June 15.

Korean Central News Agency / Korean News Service, File / AP


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Korean Central News Agency / Korean News Service, File / AP


Photos provided by the North Korean government show North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Workers’ Party meetings in Pyongyang, North Korea on February 8 (left) and June 15.

Korean Central News Agency / Korean News Service, File / AP

SEOUL, South Korea – The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long been a source of morbid fascination for rival South Korea, which lies in the shadow of the 1.2 million-strong army of Kim and his growing arsenal of nuclear missiles.

Did he gain even more weight? Does he have difficulty breathing after relatively short walks? And this cane? Why did he miss this important state anniversary?

Now the 37-year-old is once again facing further speculation in the South about his health. But this time it’s because he’s noticeably thinner.

Kim’s health is important in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and other world capitals, as he has not publicly named a successor who would control an ongoing nuclear program targeting the United States and its allies – if he is. incapacitated. North Korea, never open to the inner workings of its leaders, closed itself even more closely last year to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic.

In recent state media images, including those released on Wednesday, Kim appeared to have lost a lot of weight. The strap of her fancy watch is tighter and her face is thinner. Some observers say Kim – who is around 170 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) and previously weighed 140 kilograms (308 pounds) – may have lost around 10 to 20 kilograms (22 to 44 pounds).

Kim’s apparent weight loss is more likely an attempt to improve her health than a sign of illness, according to Hong Min, a senior analyst at the Korea National Unification Institute in Seoul.

“If he had any health problems, he would not have gone out in public to call the plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee,” a major political conference this week that is expected to last two to three days, Hong said.

Kim, known for her heavy drinking and smoking, comes from a family with a history of heart problems. His father and grandfather, who ruled North Korea before him, both died of heart problems. Experts said her weight could increase the possibility of cardiovascular disease.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it had no information to share about Kim’s health. Her slimmer look has received a lot of interest in South Korea, with media posting photos of her previous and current appearances.

Seo Yu-Seok, of the Seoul-based Institute of North Korean Studies, said the recent establishment by the North of a first secretary for the ruling Workers’ Party, the country’s No.2 post, may have been linked to possible Kim’s health issues. He said Kim may have authorized the creation of the post at the behest of senior officials, but still did not appoint anyone to the post because it could loosen his grip on power.

“If Kim is facing a real health problem and is in a state where he cannot express his opinions, although he is not dead, who will make the decision to appoint the first secretary?” Seo said.

When global speculation erupted over Kim’s health last year after missing the commemoration of her late grandfather’s birthday, some analysts speculated that Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was next in line. inherit power from his brother. Others said collective leadership was also possible.


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