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North Korea’s leader emphasizes need for self-sufficient economy amid sanctions

This picture taken on June 7, 2020 and released by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 8, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) attending a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea. (Photo by AFP)

The North Korean leader has called for further economic development, especially in the chemical industry, emphasizing the need for the country — which is under harsh international sanctions — to achieve economic self-sufficiency.

Kim Jong-un made the comments at a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party on domestic economic issues, state news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Monday.

The meeting discussed “crucial issues arising in further developing the self-sufficient economy of the country and improving the standard of people’s living,” the report added.

High on the agenda were the chemical industry and fertilizer production as “a major thrust front of the national economy.”

The construction of new residential areas was also emphasized at the meeting as another way to improve the living standards of the people.

For years, North Korea has been under harsh economic pressure due to international and unilateral American sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The news comes as tensions between the two Koreas have been escalating in the past days.

The North has threatened to shutter an inter-Korean liaison office and other projects if the South fails to prevent defectors from sending leaflets and other anti-Pyongyang material into North Korea.

In protest, North Korea on Monday refused to answer a routine daily liaison phone call from South Korean officials.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said it was the first time in two years that North Korea had not answered the daily call.

North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war despite the 1953 Korean War Armistice.

The two Koreas are split along the 248-kilometer-long, 4-kilometer-wide border region called the Demilitarized Zone that was originally created as a buffer.

In late 2018, the two neighbors began taking a number of steps towards reducing tensions, but the peace efforts came to a halt amid an impasse in nuclear negotiations between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

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