December 06, 2023

North Korea’s got 99 problems and rural development is one

2022 focus on agriculture reflects both growing food insecurity and Maoist-inspired efforts to improve countryside life

At a recent plenum of the Eighth Central Committee, Kim Jong Un pointed out the “rural problem” in North Korean society. With the pandemic and sanctions, the North is more isolated than it has ever been. The countryside has felt the brunt of these economic issues and falls further behind in development goals. As evidenced by recent North Korean media reports, ideological cohesion and Party discipline is also slipping in the provinces.

As a result, Kim Jong Un has rekindled Kim Il Sung’s reverence for the countryside and reprioritized “rural development” in 2022. Under the rubric of “socialist rural construction,” Kim Jong Un hopes to improve crop yields in farming communities and reform the agricultural sector. According to state-run media, Kim promised to “boost agricultural production to completely resolve the country's food problems.”