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(2nd LD) N.K. leader says 'grave incident' has happened due to lapses in anti-epidemic efforts

North Korea 09:43 June 30, 2021

(ATTN: REPLACES photos)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said a "grave incident" has happened that could threaten the safety of his people and country in nationwide anti-epidemic efforts, state media reported Wednesday.

Kim made the remarks as he presided over an extended politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party on Tuesday, accusing senior officials of neglecting their duties in carrying out measures needed to fight the global pandemic, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"By neglecting important decisions of the party in its national emergency antivirus fight in preparations for a global health crisis, officials in charge have caused a grave incident that poses a huge crisis to the safety of the nation and its people," Kim was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

"A major factor that hampers the execution of important tasks is inability and irresponsibility of senior officials," he added. "Party-wide fight should be carried out against ideological defects and all kinds of negative factors found among senior officials."

The KCNA did not elaborate on what the grave incident was.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party, in this photo disclosed by the North's state media on June 30, 2021. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has enforced tight border controls and other antivirus measures since the beginning to ward off an outbreak on its soil.

The North has recently called for "maximum vigilance" against the coronavirus amid concerns over the global spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and pandemic fatigue.

Pointing out "chronic" inability and irresponsibility among senior officials, Kim called for a partywide fight against "ideological defects and all kinds of negative factors" that could be found among those officials.

At Tuesday's meeting, "organizational matters" were also discussed, including the election of new politburo members and secretaries of the party's Central Committee, the KCNA said, without providing details on those newly elected.

The politburo meeting came 11 days after North Korea held a four-day plenary meeting of the Workers' Party, the third of its kind this year.

This photo disclosed by the North's state media on June 30, 2021, shows officials and party members attending a politburo meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-un a day earlier. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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