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N. Korea expected to launch new work-hard campaign in spring

All News 09:12 January 15, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is expected to kick off another work-hard campaign in the spring to meet growth targets set by the government in the face of mounting international sanctions, Pyongyang watchers in Seoul said Sunday.

The prediction is based on the analysis that the reclusive regime, hit by two tough sanctions for conducting two nuclear tests and firing off ballistic missiles in 2016, will likely feel it has no choice other than to exploit its people to the fullest.

The country announced that its 70-day work-hard drive and the longer 200-day campaign carried out last year were "resounding" successes.

Local watchers said that with the country to be more affected by sanctions in the new year, it will do its utmost to achieve its latest five-year economic growth target that can highlight the ineffectiveness of punitive measures. Such a development could cause countries to stop pursuing sanctions and come to the negotiating table.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in his New Year's address that the country must focus on economic growth goals for the 2016-2020 period. The goal was unveiled at the country's ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) congress held last May.

Reflecting this, state controlled media outlets, such as the Rodong Sinmun, the country's biggest daily, have started releasing articles emphasizing the critical nature of striving for a strong, prosperous and civilized state as outlined by the WPK.

"If we win the struggle against our enemies that are trying to counter our form of socialism, we will be forever victorious while failure to do so will result in the country not being able to rise again," the newspaper claimed.

Cho Bong-hyun, an analyst at the IBK Economic Research Institute, said policymakers in the North may be aware that if they don't pull off growth in 2017, the five-year plan will not be achievable.

"Under such circumstances, there is a good chance that they will carry out something like a 150-day work-drive come spring," he said, adding that there may be as many as two work-hard drives this year.

Others said that while Pyongyang can always push its people to work harder, it may take a wait-and-see approach this year, and only launch another campaign if it realizes the set target for growth will not be met.

Kim Young-hui the chief of the North Korea economic team at the Korea Development Bank, pointed out that last year work-hard drives were a tactic to build cohesion among the people and not necessarily about growth.

Some Pyongyang watchers have said the recent work-hard drive was met with resentment and policymakers may be reluctant to continue to push people unless they have no choice.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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