North Korea's Kim says economic plan failed as rare party congress begins

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SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his five-year economic plan had failed to meet its goal “on almost every sector” as he kicked off the ruling Workers’ Party congress on Tuesday, state media KCNA reported on Wednesday.

The rare political gathering, which Kim last hosted in 2016, has drawn regional attention as he is expected to unveil a new five-year economic plan and address foreign policy just two weeks before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

In his opening speech, Kim called for the strengthening of North Korea’s self-reliant power, which he said would help it tackle internal and outside challenges that hinder its progress.

“The previous five-year plan was due last year but it tremendously fell short of goals on almost every sector,” Kim said.

But Kim lauded workers for “resolutely overcoming difficulties” in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus outbreak, but South Korean authorities had said an outbreak there cannot be ruled out as the country had active trade and people movement with China before closing the border in late January.

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