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N. Korea's media urge people to be ready for belt-tightening

All Headlines 14:17 July 23, 2018

SEOUL, July 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korean state media urged the country's people to be ready for "belt-tightening" Monday amid signs of stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, reminded them of the harsh period of Arduous March in the 1990s, when the country suffered from extreme poverty and massive starvation in the wake of the collapse of socialism in Russia and Eastern Europe.

"Even if (we) have to travel a long distance through snowstorms with our belts tightened, we will go straight to the people's road which was proved as immortal in the process of the 70-years-long struggle and to the road of socialism," the newspaper said.

The call comes as concerns are growing about the denuclearization talks between the North and the U.S. The slower-than-expected progress clouds the prospects for any immediate sanctions relief, which Pyongyang might be pursuing to bolster its anemic economy in return for giving up its nuclear weapons.

The call for belt-tightening might be intended to tamp down expectations among its people that have been high since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, followed by his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, observers said.

The North's media have recently intensified calls for self-reliance. Leader Kim has also strongly chastised party and government officials handling economic affairs during his trips to local plants and farms.

They also have ramped up criticism of South Korea for dragging its feet on implementing the inter-Korean summit agreement and blamed it for hampering cross-border cooperation.

Full-fledged economic cooperation between the two Koreas is unlikely to take place any time soon as Seoul and Washington remain firm that the North must first completely give up its nuclear weapons program before sanctions are eased.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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