Thursday, October 21, 2021

North Korea’s Kim vows to build ties with outside world while keeping ‘socialist culture’

Pyongyang is also cracking down on foreign information by banning foreign materials that could promote 'reactionary thought'.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he is exploring ways to renew ties with South Korea and has vowed to expand relations with foreign countries, state media said on Friday, as he hosted a rare party congress.

On its third day on Thursday, Kim raised the issue of reshaping South Korean relations “as required by the prevailing situation and the changed times” and discussed foreign policy, the official KCNA news agency reported.

He “declared the general orientation and the policy stand of our party for comprehensively expanding and developing the external relations”, KCNA said.

President-elect Joe Biden will come into office in two weeks, facing the thorny task of engineering a breakthrough in the stalemate, after historic summits between Kim and outgoing US President Donald Trump failed to reach agreement.

Inter-Korean relations made some headway around the summits but have soured as the nuclear talks made little headway.

Despite talking of improving ties with the outside world, Kim also discussed ways to open “a fresh golden age” in North Korea’s campaign for socialist culture, as Pyongyang is stepping up its crackdown on outside information, enacting a new law last month banning foreign materials that could promote “reactionary thought”.

He called for “establishing our own wholesome and revolutionary lifestyle in all spheres of social life and thoroughly eliminating non-socialist elements”, KCNA said.

The eighth congress of the ruling Workers’ Party has come amid a prolonged gridlock in negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes in return for US sanction relief.

The gathering is aimed at reviewing the party’s work since its last meeting in 2016 and outlining a new blueprint.

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