Pyongyang’s military budget grows

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Pyongyang’s military budget grows

As the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and the United States convene in Washington, D.C. to discuss halting Pyongyang’s nuclear development program, North Korean state-run media reported Thursday its state budget is expected to increase 5.6 percent.

“The 9th plenary meeting of the 13th Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Wednesday,” the North’s Korean Central News agency reported, referring to the state’s official name of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Discussed at the meeting were plans for the implementation of the 2016 state budget.”

The report only reveals planned spending as a percentage of the total budget, and growth rates compared to last year, without providing any information as to what the total budget is or how much growth has actually taken place.

According to the report, the nation’s defense expenditure will account for 15.8 percent of its 2016 budget.

This, it says, is in order to develop further nuclear capabilities to defend against the “war of aggression by the enemies,” referring to the ongoing joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

“The 15.8 percent is only a part of the defense expenditure earmarked in the North’s official budget, but in fact, the total defense budget is much larger,” a source at the Ministry of Unification said on Thursday.

The North’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles has recently gained momentum under the guidance of Kim Jong-un, who has been in power since December 2011.

After Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, followed by its long-range missile launch on Feb. 7, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted the strongest sanctions it has ever levied on the North.

At the Wednesday meeting, a 5.2 percent increase in the field of science and technology was also decided upon, the report said, along with an 8.1 percent increase in education spending and a 7.4 percent increase on culture spending.

The report added, “a large amount of educational aid funds and stipends will be sent for the education of Korean children in Japan.”

BY KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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