Party congress reveals pressures on North Korea: analysts
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North Korea's twice-a-decade party congress has revealed the extent of the pressures on its struggling economy in the face of the coronavirus epidemic...
, sanctions, and deadlocked nuclear talks with the US, analysts say.

Leader Kim Jong Un repeatedly apologised for mistakes in economic management, promising greater prosperity in future and -- in a move seen as reinforcing his personal authority -- was appointed the party's general secretary, a title previously reserved for his father and predecessor.

But the prospects diminished for market reforms that could improve the situation on the ground, or any change in the stand-off with Washington, with Kim sending the incoming Biden administration a message that Pyongyang would keep advancing its arsenal unless the US offered concessions.

The eight-day congress of the Workers' Party was held in the depths of the bitter Korean winter and ended Tuesday, little more than a week before Biden's inauguration.

Pyongyang realises the need for sanctions relief if it is to develop its economy, analysts say, but has so far shown no willingness to curtail the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes that the measures punish.

Instead Kim -- who had a tumultuous relationship with the outgoing President Donald Trump -- called the US his country's "foremost principal enemy", pledged to strengthen his nuclear arsenal, and said plans for a nuclear-powered submarine had been completed, while offering a shopping list of future weapons goals.

Biden's presidency presents Pyongyang with a challenge, as he is associated with Barack Obama's "strategic patience" approach and is widely expected to return to more orthodox diplomacy, with significant progress required at working-level talks before any leaders'…
Sunghee Hwang
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