Kim Jong-un holds crtical politburo meeting


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has presided over a politburo meeting of the Workers” Party and discussed measures to develop the chemical industry, but inter-Korean issues and other external matters were not on the agenda, state media reported on Monday.

The meeting, held on Sunday, came two days after the North vowed to abolish an inter-Korean liaison office in response over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets sent from South Korea.

Four items were on the agenda, but the leaflet issue was not one of them, Pyongyang”s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report on Monday.

“The meeting discussed in depth some crucial issues arising in further developing the self-sufficient economy of the country and improving the standard of people”s living,” the KCNA said.

“Discussed as the first agenda items were some urgent problems arising in developing the chemical industry of the country in a well-defined framework,” it added.

Kim was quoted as repeatedly stressing the importance of the chemical industry, calling it “the foundation of industry and a major thrust front of the national economy”.

He, in particular, called for development of “the C1 chemical industry,” a coal-gasification project that North Korea has sought for years to diversify its energy sources.

In his 2019 New Year”s Day speech, Kim called for stepped-up efforts to establish the C1 chemical industry.

The KCNA said that Kim also emphasized the need to improve the living conditions of people in Pyongyang, calling for “strong state measures” on the matter and ordering the construction of more houses.

It, however, made no mention of inter-Korean issues, especially the anti-Pyongyang leaflets.

On Friday, the North”s United Front Department (UFD) handling inter-Korean affairs issued a statement, saying it will abolish the liaison office in the first in a series of measures that the sister of leader Kim Jong-un threatened to take unless Seoul stops the sending of such leaflets.

Along with the closing of the liaison office, she warned of dismantling a now-shuttered industrial park in the North”s border city of Kaesong and scrapping a military tension reduction agreement calling for a halt to all hostilities along the border.

The two Koreas signed summit agreements and the military deal in 2018 mostly aimed at reducing cross-border tensions, but many of the agreements between their leaders have not been carried out amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Sunday”s politburo meeting marked the third of its kind this year.

The previous two such meetings, held in February and April, mostly addressed issues related to the country”s nationwide efforts to fend off the coronavirus pandemic.

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