SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s economy is at risk of a major crisis due to the protracted anti-coronavirus campaign and damage from recent heavy downpours, a researcher at a state-run think tank said Thursday.
Lim Soo-ho, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), a think tank affiliated with Seoul’s spy agency, made the case, saying a “triple whammy” of sanctions, the coronavirus pandemic and flood damage has recently taken a heavy toll on the North’s economy.
“The possibility of the so-called ‘perfect storm,’ in which North Korea’s trade, industry, finance and market collapse or fall into crisis all at once, is increasing,” the report said.
Although the North Korean economy has been hammered by sanctions, it has not yet suffered from a crisis as severe as the devastating famine in the 1990s, according to the report.
The report called on the international community to carry out major humanitarian programs before the North holds the Workers’ Party congress in January, to “avoid a humanitarian crisis from turning into a security crisis.”
It also stressed the need to consider temporary exemptions to sanctions related to humanitarian assistance, including financial transactions and the delivery of humanitarian goods to the North.
In a party meeting held last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un admitted that he failed to achieve his five-year economic plan due to internal and external challenges and said a new scheme will be unveiled in January during a rare party congress.