Embargoes vs North Korea blamed for country’s problems


North Korea’s grain production reached a 10-year low in 2018 and international embargoes are to blame for ongoing problems, Pyongyang said in its first Voluntary National Review submitted to the United Nations on Tuesday.

North Korea’s chairman of the State Planning Commission, Pak Jong Gun, said in the 66-page report to the U.N. that the country’s grain shortage has persisted for years due to “continued sanctions and blockade on [North Korea], severe natural disasters that hit the country every year and the protracted world health crisis since 2020.”

The report said typhoons and floods occurred annually from 2016 to 2020, but that Pyongyang responded effectively with “material resources for rehabilitation,” including building 37,000 homes “distributed free of charge.”

Pyongyang also said innovations in “scientific farming” enabled the country to produce a maximum of 6.65 million tons of food in 2019, “the highest yield during the last 10 years.”

“However, due to the natural disasters by consecutive typhoon and floods, the production was reduced to 5.52 million tons in 2020,” the report said.

North Korea is disclosing data on its economy to cite alleged progress aligned with the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pyongyang said in its report that it recognized that the 2030 Agenda “conforms to the national development policy for building a powerful socialist country.”

North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N., Kim Song, said Tuesday at a videoconference hosted by the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council that Pyongyang was committed to U.N. goals.

North Korea “is the people-centered socialist state,” the ambassador said, according to Voice of America’s Korean service.

“My country’s people-first principle is the only lodestar in the state’s building and its activities,” he said.

Hanna Song, director of international cooperation at Database Center for North Korean Human Rights in Seoul, said at the virtual conference that the Kim Jong Un regime “continues to sustain systemic discrimination at all levels of society.”

North Korea claimed in its report Tuesday that “mental and physical violence” against women and other vulnerable groups are not an issue.


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