N. Korea admits farming failures amid food lack

December 27, 2018

SEOUL -- North Korea has acknowledged “drawbacks” in its agricultural sector this year, echoing UN reports of declining crop yields in a country that remains heavily reliant on food imports and aid.

Agricultural production is chronically poor in the North, which has periodically been hit by famine, with hundreds of thousands dying — some estimates say millions — in the mid-1990s.

Premier of the government cabinet, Pak Pong Ju, referred to “drawbacks made by some farms and units in the past” at a national meeting of farming officials that took place in Pyongyang this week, state media said on Thursday.

“He said that they failed to conduct seed production and management in a responsible way and also fell short of doing proper strain distribution,” Pak was quoted as saying by the KCNA news agency in an English-language report.

He “underscored the need to attain the goal of grain production” set out in a five-year development plan that wraps up in 2020.

The North has been less hesitant in highlighting shortcomings and policy failures through its state media since leader Kim Jong Un succeeded his late father Kim Jong Il in 2011.

The young, Swiss-educated leader has occasionally been reported rebuking officials for failing to satisfactorily carry out tasks.