North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to take necessary steps to rebuild the nation's sluggish economy even amid concern over the novel coronavirus outbreak, state-run media reported Tuesday.
At a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party on Monday, Kim promised to overcome "negative elements obstructing the socialist construction," the official Korean Central News Agency said.
Kim was quoted by KCNA as saying his party will "take important measures to push forward the economic construction and provide the people with more stable and improved living conditions despite the persistent emergency anti-epidemic situation."
The North Korean leader made a public appearance for the first time in 21 days.
At the first congress of the ruling party in nearly five years, which was held for eight days through Jan. 12, the country's new five-year national economic development strategy was mapped out.
North Korea's economy has further languished after cutting off traffic to and from neighbors China and Russia since early last year to prevent the virus, first detected in late 2019 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, from entering the nation.
Kim said in a speech at the congress that North Korea failed to achieve the economic development goals set in its strategy through 2020 in almost all sectors.
North Korea is believed to be vulnerable to infectious diseases against a backdrop of chronic shortages of food and medical supplies triggered by economic sanctions aimed at thwarting its nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.