- Kim Jong Un pointed to “abnormal climate” as a reason for North Korea’s crises.
- The country has been shaken by repeated floods, a food crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Kim said that “disastrous weather” is getting worse around the world and North Korea must protect itself.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has blamed climate change as one of the reasons for the country’s ongoing food crisis and cataclysmic floods that have battered its northeast regions.
He called on his officials to enact an “urgent” response to the slew of disasters his regime is facing at a politburo meeting, according to state media KCNA on Thursday.
Kim stressed the need to improve North Korea’s land management after floods destroyed bridges and homes on the country’s east coast last month.
The “danger” of an “abnormal climate,” he said, has risen in the last few years. Kim added that he wants officials to begin an “active and ambitious plan” to improve rivers, manage erosion control, maintain dykes, and start tide embankment projects as part of the country’s regular Five-Year Plan.
He added that “disastrous weather is getting ever more pronounced worldwide” and that North Korea will be vulnerable to the change, per KCNA.
North Korea has also been hit by a severe food crisis that Kim himself has admitted is “tense.” Typhoons last year, as well as erratic weather alternating between monsoon rains and droughts, obliterated the country’s supply of food, reported Reuters.
According to Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, the authoritarian government even started distributing its military grain reserves to sustain the population,
Kim himself, known to be portly, has reportedly lost weight, which state media has said North Koreans “heartbroken.” A photo shown in a tweet by Seoul-based North Korea news and analysis site NKNews displayed Kim looking considerably thinner than he had in the past.
—NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) August 22, 2021
At the politburo meeting on Thursday, he told officials to “fully mobilize the labor force” for harvesting, threshing, and food transport, hoping to boost the country’s grain supply.
Additionally, Kim expressed worry about the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said “keeps spiraling out of control” and now requires tighter restrictions. North Korea has been enforcing its borders with harsh measures since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, deploying land mines and issuing shoot-to-kill orders on illegal crossings.
North Korea has regularly said that it is virus-free, even rejecting millions of Sinovac Biotech vaccines because it said other countries need them more. Experts have been largely skeptical of its claims. On the other hand, Kim tore into some of his cadres in late June for an unspecified, “great” pandemic crisis.