SEOUL, Feb. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official paper said Monday the country's military should play a leading role in major construction and other economic development projects as the country marked the 73rd anniversary of the army's founding.
At the eighth congress of the ruling Workers' Party in January, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un unveiled its new five-year economic development plan focusing on self-reliance amid multiple challenges, including efforts to ward off the coronavirus and crippling sanctions. Kim called for a "do-or-die struggle" to fulfill the new five-year plan, stressing the importance of regional development.
"We must demonstrate the power of the united army and the people, and their joint military operation, in the battle to achieve a new victory in the socialist construction," the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North's ruling party, said in an editorial.
The paper urged the military to play a leading role in its stationed areas and to turn the mining town of Komdok in South Hamgyong Province into the country's "model mountainous city."
Last year, the North mobilized its army for recovery efforts in typhoon-hit regions and in the nationwide campaign against the coronavirus. In recognition of their contribution, the title of the marshal of the Korean People's Army (KPA) was granted to Ri Pyong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, and Pak Jong-chon, chief of the General Staff of the KPA.
The paper, however, stressed that the military is strictly under the control of the ruling Workers' Party and called for the army's "absolute obedience."
The paper appears to be calling for military support as the country is making all-out efforts to achieve its new five-year plan in the face of the global pandemic and sanctions on its regime.
"Army-Building Day," which commemorates the 1948 establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA), is one of North Korea's biggest national holidays.
North Korea switched the army anniversary back to Feb. 8 in 2018 after having observed it on April 25 since 1978. April 25 is the date when the founding leader created anti-Japanese guerrilla forces in 1932 during Japan's colonial rule of Korea.
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