Kim Jong Un says North Korea must deliver ‘telling blow’ to those imposing sanctions on it

NORTH KOREA : North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country needs to deliver a “telling blow” to those imposing sanctions by ensuring its economy is more self-reliant, state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Thursday.

It was the first time Kim stated North Korea’s position on the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi that collapsed in February, and signalled a continued focus on economic development, a strategic direction officially declared a priority last April.

On North Korea’s position on the summit, Kim said he would double down on efforts to create a self-supporting national economy “so as to deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who go with bloodshot eyes miscalculating that sanctions can bring (North Korea) to its knees,” according to KCNA.

U.S.-North Korean engagement has appeared to be in limbo since the Feb. 27-28 summit in Hanoi, which collapsed over differences about how far North Korea was willing to limit its nuclear programme and the degree of U.S. willingness to ease economic sanctions.

Kim has continued to highlight his economic push in recent weeks despite the lack of sanctions relief.

State media have published images and reports of Kim’s visits to at least four economic projects in five days over the past week, including a remodelled department store, tourist resorts, and an economic hub near the border with China.

At a similar plenary session last year, Kim formally announced a “new strategic line” that focused on economic progress and improving North Koreans’ lives, rather than the previous two-pronged approach of economic and nuclear weapons development.

Despite not explicitly naming the “hostile forces” that imposed sanctions, Kim is displaying a more hardened stance toward Washington than was recently in state media, analysts said.