N.Korean Boasts of Thriving Economy Despite Sanctions

  • By O Youn-hee, Kim Myong-song

    May 22, 2019 09:40

    North Korean state media on Tuesday claimed that department stores are overflowing with goods that meet customer demand, quoting foreign media and visiting tourists.

    In an article titled "[North Korea] that is displaying its socialist might based on rapid economic development," the official Rodong Sinmun wrote, "You shouldn't lend your ear to fake propaganda campaigns by Western countries, but look squarely at [North] Korea that is doing what it should do in defiance of sanctions."

    North Korea's "economy grows constantly despite sanctions," it added. The daily denied economic difficulties even as the regime is begging the international community for food aid.

    The article represented a startling volte-face from recent complaints of "severe hardship" and calls for self-reliance.

    North Koreans look at home appliances in a department store in Pyongyang on April 14, in this photo from North Korean propaganda website Uriminzokkiri.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department pointed out that the humanitarian situation in the North is the result of the regime's own failings.

    "The United States is deeply concerned about the well-being of the North Korean people," a State Department spokesperson said Monday. "The humanitarian situation in North Korea, which is the result of the [North Korean] regime choice to prioritize its unlawful [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs over the welfare of its own people."

    "We are aware of reports of food shortages" in the North, the spokesperson said but added that international sanctions "do not prohibit purchases of food imports" by the North.

    A day later, the North's Ambassador to the UN Kim Song held a press conference at UN headquarters to protest against the U.S.' seizure of the North Korean cargo vessel Wise Honest and sanctions against the North.

    "The United States should deliberate and think over the consequences its outrageous acts might have on the future developments," Kim said.

    On May 17, Kim sent a letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres to protest against Washington's seizure of the cargo ship, calling it "an unlawful and outrageous act."

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