In a three-hour speech broadcast on North Korean TV Sunday, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un set a five-year plan to revive his country’s struggling economy. But the speech included no major policy changes or economic reforms.
Kim delivered the speech during the 7th Congress of the Workers Party of Korea, the highest-level political gathering in the isolated, one-party state. More than 3,400 party members are in Pyongyang for the congress that began Friday and continued through the weekend.
Kim’s economic plan, the first of its kind in decades, was short on specifics. Kim repeatedly referenced North Korea’s “Juche” ideology of self-reliance, but also spoke of a desire to increase foreign trade. He pledged North Korea would not use its nuclear weapons “unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes.”
In the highly secretive country, where the government controls information even among its own officials, foreign journalists and their government minders had a confusing and frustrating day on Sunday. After being told to dress formally, more than 100 journalists were driven to the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang. Reporters were told to bring their passports and equipment inside for a security check. But after members of the media waited in the lobby for around an hour, an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced “the program has changed” and the journalists were driven back to their hotel, where they stayed for the remainder of the day.