Kim Jong Un’s rare admission that North Korea faces a population crisis indicates he’s just as worried about a demographic crunch that could undermine the economy as he is about the U.S. forces that he says want to end his regime.

With little fuel, machinery or advanced technology, Kim needs a booming population to support the labor-intensive farm and industrial sectors, and fill the ranks of one of the world’s most militarized states. He told thousands of women last week at the first official gathering of mothers in over a decade that it’s their duty to produce more children to "stop the declining birth rate.”

"When all mothers clearly understand that it is patriotism to give birth to many children and do so positively, our cause of building a powerful socialist country can be hastened faster,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported him as saying.