Kim Jong Un's ambitious five-year plan to boost the North Korean economy and create a "great socialist country" has been "seriously delayed," he said Thursday in Pyongyang—and he's called for a rare Workers' Party congress at the start of the new year to try to hash out a new one. Per state media, Kim—who the AP notes delivered his remarks with "unusual candor"—cited a triple whammy of US sanctions, the pandemic, and severe flooding in North Korea as a major part of why the economy is in such a miserable state. Key to improving things with his next five-year plan, which will get mapped out in January at the Workers' Party gathering, will be improvements to agricultural and manufacturing production, as well as to the nation's power supply.
According to state media, Kim noted on Thursday that North Korea had faced "unexpected and inevitable challenges" over the past few years, which disrupted his original economic plan, according to state media. "The people's living standard has not been improved remarkably," he added, per Bloomberg. The New York Times adds that "it remains rare in North Korea, if not unprecedented, under Mr. Kim's rule to openly admit to such failures," adding that the "infallible, godlike figures" of his father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, never would've have confessed to such a thing. In the meantime, Kim has insisted he plans on keeping North Korea's borders closed and doesn't want outside assistance. (Read more North Korea stories.)