The Koreas | Economy | East Asia

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Oversees Politburo Meeting

The meeting marked Kim’s third public appearance since April.

Ankit Panda
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Oversees Politburo Meeting
Credit: Rodong Sinmun

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a meeting of the Political Bureau of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, North Korea’s ruling party, over the weekend.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s outward-facing state media agency, Kim presided over the meeting, which “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 readout of the Politburo’s meeting suggested that the fate of the country’s chemical industry and the living standards for the residents of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, were at the top of the agenda.

Kim has devoted some attention to the chemical industry alongside domestic power generation in recent years. Last month, Kim emerged after a three-week absence from public view to inaugurate the Sunchon Phosphatic Fertilizer Plant — a facility that he’d emphasized as being of national important during a December speech to a plenum of the Workers’ Party Central Committee.

The Party has been following “the policy of founding the C1 chemical industry to suit to the specific conditions of the country and to meet the world’s trend,” Kim said at the Politburo meeting, according to KCNA. “The chemical industry is the foundation of industry and a major thrust front of the national economy,” he added.

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Kim “stressed the need to give top priority to increasing the capacity for producing fertilizer, to begin with, in the chemical industrial field and push forward this work and put particular emphasis on promptly settling scientific and technological issues of founding potassic fertilizer industry based on our own raw materials,” KCNA further reported.

Kim’s presence at the meeting marks his third publicly reported outing since April, when speculative reports proliferated in the global media about him potentially facing health problems.

In addition to the chemical industry, the meeting discussed living standards in Pyongyang. Kim urged Party officials to “take strong state measures for ensuring the living conditions of people including the construction of dwelling houses.”

Under Kim’s tenure, new housing developments have cropped up in Pyongyang for scientific and technical elites — including many individuals that have been involved the development of the country’s nuclear force.

By national standards, the quality of housing in Pyongyang generally exceeds that found in other parts of North Korea. Due to controls on the internal movement of its citizens, North Korean citizens living in Pyongyang are generally among the national elite.