North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Raises Alarm on Covid-19 Response and Typhoon

What happened to Kim Jong Un? In a rare display of urgency, the North Korean leader held his third high-level political conference in as many weeks, where he raised alarm about the nation’s coronavirus response and a typhoon forecast to hit the country early Thursday.

During an enlarged meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party on Tuesday, Kim lamented unspecified “defects” and “shortcomings” in the country’s’ anti-virus campaign and urged that they be corrected swiftly, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.

Kim also called for thorough preparations to minimize damage from Typhoon Bavi, which comes weeks after torrential rains caused flooding and massive damage to homes and crops, inflicting further pain to an economy ravaged by U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and border closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Kim set tasks for the party and public services at every level, “saying that to thoroughly prevent the casualties by the typhoon and minimize the damage to crops is important work which can never be neglected even a moment,” KCNA paraphrased the leader as saying.

Typhoon Bavi as of Wednesday morning was near the South Korean island of Jeju and was on course to hit the northwest coast of the Korean Peninsula around daybreak Thursday morning.

South Korea’s weather agency said it had a maximum wind speed of 155 kph (96 mph) and was forecast as one of the strongest to hit the peninsula this year.

In another ruling party meeting last week, Kim admitted the country’s economy has not improved as he had hoped.

The Workers’ Party cited “internal and external situations” as hurting the country’s economic development, likely referring to U.S.-led sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear program, the recent flooding and the efforts of closing the country’s borders and other steps taken during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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