After Kim Jong Un came to power about a year ago, his main official activities reportedly were focused on the military. The young leader is said to be looking to consolidate control over the military to strengthen the monolithic leadership system.
Recently, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) released a report on the first anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s appointment as the first secretary of the Workers’ Party. In the report, Kim Jong Un is reported to have made a total of 192 official activities in which 38 percent (73 activities) were focused on the military while political and economy related activities were 23 percent (45) and 20 percent (37), respectively.
Compared to Kim Jong Il’s record of 145 activities in 2011, in which military related events were 39 while economic and political and entertainment performances were 11 and 29, respectively, Kim Jong Un’s activities were focused more on the military.
In addition, a higher number of military elites were seen accompanying the state leader to these military-related events.
The report also stressed the difficulty in assuming that the North Korean economy drastically improved or deteriorated after Kim Jong Un took power. According to FAO and WFP reports, 2012 to 2013 grain production reached 4.92 million tons, which is an increase of 10.5 percent against the previous year.
This is the third consecutive year where an increase in grain production has been reported; but North Korea still faces a deficit of 210,000 tons, as 5.43 million tons is estimated to be minimum grain requirement (according to FAO) and only 300,000 tons is expected to come in from overseas. However, MOU authorities explain that regardless of the food supply, distribution difficulties still remain in North Korea.
The exchange rates are reported to have been continuously on the rise from last year. As of March of this year, 1 USD exchanged for 8,000 KPW and the price of 1 kg of rice was 5,500 KPW. Considering the average monthly salary of North Korean workers ranges between 3,000 to 4,000 KPW, the food situation for the ordinary people is suspected to still be poor.
The report also did not see any significant signs of changes in North Korean economic policy. In North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year message, building a strong economic nation was named as the top agenda for the year, with agricultural and light industries as key sectors. However, the national budget recently released by North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) revealed a decrease in the budget for agricultural and light industries while the defense budget has increased.
Kim Jong-un ditched the new year “Joint Editorial” of the Kim Jong-il era and has personally taken on the role of reading a new year speech (appx .5 hrs)–as was done by his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. Here is a video of the speech (in Korean..no subtitles):
Having read it all, I can understand why Kim Jong-il did not want to give these speeches. If I had absolute power I would not want to either. Here is some analysis that others have provided:
The New York Times highlighted Kim jong-un’s softening tone towards South Korea:
“A key to ending the divide of the nation and achieving reunification is to end the situation of confrontation between the North and the South,” Mr. Kim said. “A basic precondition to improving North-South relations and advancing national reunification is to honor and implement North-South joint declarations.”
He was referring to two inter-Korean agreements, signed in 2000 and 2007, when two South Korean presidents, Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, were pursuing a “Sunshine Policy” of reconciliation and economic cooperation with North Korea and met Mr. Kim’s father in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
And on economics:
In his speech, Kim Jong-un, echoed themes of previous New Year’s messages, emphasizing that improving the living standards of North Koreans and rejuvenating the agricultural and light industries were among the country’s main priorities.
But he revealed no details of any planned economic policy changes. He mentioned only a need to “improve economic leadership and management” and “spread useful experiences created in various work units.”
According to the Ministry of Unification in Seoul, “Overall there was no new policy; they stuck to the existing line.”
In last year’s New Year’s Joint Editorial, the Kim Jong Il era equivalent of this morning’s address, a North Korean regime conscious of the risks of succession emphasized little more than the need to adhere closely to the last instructions of Kim Jong Il as a means of promoting social stability. Kim Jong Il’s name was mentioned a total of 34 times in that editorial.
This year, Kim Jong Eun focused on propagating the accomplishments of his first year, predominantly the December 12th rocket launch success, which he set up as an example for all sectors of the North Korean economy to promote growth. He even put forward a rocket-inspired slogan for 2013, calling for overall economic development based on the “spirit that conquered the universe.”
Cho Bong Hyun, a researcher with IBK’s economic research arm, told Daily NK today, “The core characteristic of this year’s New Year’s Address was emphasizing the Unha-3 launch and linking it to the economy. Kim Jong Eun seems to be planning to use the success of the rocket launch as a tool with which to vitalize the economy.”
However, the list of major achievements mentioned in the address included the military parade that marked the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, the completion of Huichon Dam and its affiliated power plant, and the construction of athletic facilities around Pyongyang. It is hard not to regard such projects as indicators of North Korea’s fundamental economic weakness rather than strength.
Kim made references to reunification and improving relations with South Korea as well, but did not appear to offer a compromise position that could spur dialogue. Indeed, he appeared also to confirm that Kim Jong Il’s military-first political line is set to continue in 2013 and on into Kim Jong Eun’s rule.
Regarding the softer tone with South Korea, the Daily NK had this to say:
The message for South Korea in North Korea’s statement for the New Year was considerably more gracious than that of last year. Kim Jong Eun stated in his address, as per the subsequent official translation, “An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south.”
Despite the fact that the “unity of the Korean people” has been a constant theme of North Korean discourse over several decades now, the reaction to Kim’s words was abnormally enthusiastic. Some experts even believe that the speech revealed Kim Jong Eun’s ardent wish to restore inter-Korean relations, and say that North Korea is sure to put more weight on dialogue with South Korea going forward. The state-run Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) concluded that North Korea has returned to a gentler South Korea policy.
Yet the reality is that North Korea has been going back and forth between dialogue and provocation over many years. This was even true under the left wing Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun administrations. Lest we should forget, at the launch of the Lee Myung Bak administration in 2008, the first conservative administration for ten years, North Korea expressed great anticipation that progress in inter-Korean relations was impending.
At that time, North Korea called for the creation of “a new history of peaceful prosperity” and the promotion of legal and institutional mechanisms to prepare for unification. However, as inter-Korean relations went astray and Kim Jong Eun moved closer to the driving seat, North Korea embarked on a set of extreme provocations. Mind you, even then North and South were still discussing the possibility of a summit behind the scenes.
North Korea has chosen to limit its attacks on the new administration for one major reason; to test it. This happened in the 2003 and 2008 addresses (then known as the New Year’s Joint Editorial); indeed, it happens each time a new administration is launched down in Seoul.
The Daily NK also reports that the new year speech’s treatment of economic issues is nothing new:
[...] Promoting the development of light industry has been a key feature of a number of recent New Year’s Joint Editorials, the keynote editorial carried across North Korea’s three main publications; Rodong Shinmun (for the Chosun Workers’ Party), Chosun People’s Army (for the military) and Minju Chosun (for the Cabinet).
Stephan Haggard confesses to being worn down (as am I), but offers some thoughtful comments nonetheless:
The basic economic message seems to be “do everything,” which is really equivalent to not prioritizing anything at all. But it is possibly worse than that. The slogan for the year is “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!” This approach suggests that the regime’s thinking is still locked into the idea of leapfrogging, “100 day battles,” and monumentalism; indeed, the first reference to economics in the speech is to “Juche-oriented and modern factories and enterprises and reconstructed major production bases in key industrial sectors on the basis of advanced science and technology…”
If there is any logic to the speech—a big assumption—it sounds like heavy industry comes first. (“By adopting decisive steps to shore up the vanguard sectors of the national economy and the sectors of basic industries, we should develop coal-mining, electric-power and metallurgical industries and rail transport on a preferential basis and provide a firm springboard for the building of an economic giant.”) This is disheartening to say the least, but who knows? In the next section, the speech says the country should concentrate on people’s livelihoods, agriculture and light industry “too,” and also with the increasing emphasis seen in recent speeches on “science and technology” as a panacea.
We see three things in the speech, editorials and posters that are discouraging. The first is the ongoing confusion between ends (being a strong and prosperous nation) and the strategy of getting there (heavy industry first, technological leap-frogging, vague injunctions to focus on people’s livelihoods). Second, the emphasis on technology as a form of economic deliverance is everywhere (“Today’s era is an era of science and technology, and we should open up an epoch-making phase in building an economically powerful state with the power of science and technology. The key to crushing the sanctions and blockades by the imperialists and leaping forward into an economically powerful state lies in science and technology.”) A single-minded focus on technology can put a missile in space, and the launch has to be seen as an achievement. But a single-minded focus on technology can’t produce economic growth in the absence of policies that promote ongoing innovation and provide incentives to using technology in an efficient way.In our humble opinion, it is a greater–if more mundane–achievement to grow at 3-4 percent a year than to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a non-functioning satellite and military posturing.
Which brings us to the final problem: what we call the exhortatory approach to economic growth. The endless exhortation in important speeches is not coincidental. In the absence of meaningful incentives, the only way to squeeze more juice out of the workforce is hope that they respond to nationalist appeals by increasing effort. But a country’s workforce can work very hard and remain poor if what it is doing destroys value, as forced-march economic campaigns typically do. As we know from past socialist collapses, a surprising share of the capital stock in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe was essentially worthless when the final reckoning came. Effort cannot substitute for fundamentals, if anyone is even paying attention to these campaigns any more.
Evans Revere, writing for Brookings, made some interesting observations:
Kim Jong-un’s choice of venue for the New Year’s speech was important. He delivered his remarks at the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) Central Committee building, a site selected to reinforce another theme of his year-old leadership: the primacy of the Party over other institutions and the role of the KWP as the main vehicle for his rule. It was no accident that the Party flag was displayed prominently next to Kim as he spoke.
Having sought to convey that he is a leader in his grandfather’s mold, and having reminded the nation (particularly the military) that the Party under his leadership is in the driver’s seat, Kim spent much of the speech holding forth on another central theme of his reign: economic growth. Looking through this section of the speech, one is hard pressed to find details about future economic plans or concrete new ideas aimed at boosting the DPRK’s anemic economy. In fact, its hortatory calls for making new “advances,” “building an economic giant,” and “breaking through the cutting edge” resemble the timeworn, empty exhortations of past New Year’s editorials. Thin gruel indeed.
For those of you with an interest in empirical measurements, Kim Jong Il’s “Songun” only got six mentions this year. Kim Il Sung’s “Juche” got 13. But as much as the content of Kim’s speech is important, the very fact that he made a speech at all demonstrates his continuing efforts to associate himself with the pre-Songun era of his grandfather. Implicit in Kim’s style is a return to the relative stability and prosperity that Kim Il Sung oversaw.
The Institute for Far Eastern Studies issued two reports on the new year speech:
In the New Year’s address delivered by Kim Jong Un, emphasis was placed on easing the hostile inter-Korean relations and implementation of the June 15 inter-Korean joint declaration.
An intriguing point of this year’s speech was its format, as Kim Jong Un’s delivery of the New Year’s Address was televised — a rare occurrence, considering the last one to be televised was that given by Kim Il Sung in 1994, some nineteen years ago. The Korean Central News Agency and Korean Central Television broadcasted this year’s speech.
The highlight of the speech was Kim Jong Un’s declaration, “To end the state of division of the country and achieve reunification, we must remove confrontations between North and South.” He added, “Respecting and thoroughly implementing the north-south joint declarations is a basic prerequisite to promoting the inter-Korean relations and hastening the country’s reunification.”
This can be interpreted as an effort by the North as a hopeful message to the newly elected South Korean president Park Geun-hye for improved relations and to urge her administration to depart from her predecessor’s North Korea policy and implement the June 15 and October 4 Joint Declarations.
In the 2008 New Year address, North Korea made a similar statement encouraging the then Lee Myong-bak administration to fulfill the joint declarations.
As for North Korea’s foreign relations, Kim stressed that it will expand and develop relations with those countries that are friendly and cooperative to North Korea and affirmed to “strive actively to realize independence in the world and safeguard peace and stability in the region.” However, there was no mention of North Korea’s position on the nuclear issue or US-DPRK relations.
As for the economy, Kim stressed that “the entire Party, the whole country and all the people should wage an all-out struggle this year to effect a turnaround in building an economic giant and improving the people’s standard of living.” The importance of economy and the improvement of the lives of its people were reiterated and agriculture and light industry was named as frontline industries.
Similarly, last year’s New Year joint editorial called for revolution in light industry and agriculture. This year’s message stressed that economic guidance and management must be improved to reflect the realities of development. It also stressed that the North “hold fast to the socialist economic system of our own style, steadily improve and perfect the methods of economic management on the principle of encouraging the working masses to fulfill their responsibility and role befitting the masters of production, and generalize on an extensive scale the good experiences gained at several units.”
In 2012, North Korea announced its ‘June 28 policy’. There is speculation that changes are taking place in various parts of the country to pilot changes in its economic system.
The New Year address also emphasizes the military. “The military might of a country represents its national strength; only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country and defend the security and happiness of its people.” Kim Jong Un also emphasized that “The sector of defense industry should develop in larger numbers sophisticated military hardware of our own style that can contribute to implementing the Party’s military strategy.”
South Korean government showed a lukewarm response to North Korea’s New Year address. While the format of the address was relatively novel in that it was televised, most North Korea watchers see the content and format of the joint editorial as similar to past addresses. Kim Jong Un placed heavy emphasis on the economic sector, but the method of improvement revealed no major changes from the current policy. Likewise, no concrete measures were suggested for the improvement of inter-Korean relations except for a general suggestion to open the doors for dialogue.
North Korea’s National Science and Technology Council calls the New Year’s Address, “A Shortcut Measure to Become an Economic Powerhouse”
In the 2013 New Year speech by Kim Jong Un, plans to strengthen the National Science and Technology Council can be noticed to serve as a driving force for the future economic construction of North Korea.
According to the Chosun Shinbo, a pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, the National Science and Technology Council assessed the New Year speech to substantiate, “The teachings of our leader Kim Jong Un, to stipulate the power of science and technology in order to provide a shortcut in constructing a strong economic nation.”
The news evaluated 2012 as a year of revolutionary achievement for succeeding in the satellite launch as it was the last year of the “Third Five-Year Plan” of scientific and technological development.
According to the newspaper, the National Science and Technology Council was acclaimed as an esteemed mechanism in conducting scientific research contributing to the nation’s economic development and in creating a new foundation for various scientific research sectors to carry out its projects.
As a result, the news claimed noteworthy achievements were made in state-of-the-art scientific research, with over hundreds of studies conducted in reconstruction and modernization projects in factories and enterprises across the country.
The 2013 marks the first year of the “Fourth Five-Year Plan of Scientific and Technological Development” and the National Science and Technology Council outlined its major goals and tasks of this year: “Our scientists and technicians will carry out the tasks put forth by the New Year speech to realize the modernization of our economy and build a strong nation from advancement in science and technology.”
The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly decided last month to award the Medal of Kim Jong Il to the Korean Committee of Space Technology (KCST) for the successful launch of the Kwangmyongsong 3-2 satellite and commended it as the “paramount event and celebration in our national history of 5,000 years and of our people.”
The successful launch of the long-range rocket was lauded as a major national achievement to North Koreans, with the opportunity to embark on the building of a new satellite named “Kim Jong Un.”
In addition, Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of Workers’ Party of Korea, declared that the era of President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-il should be known as the “100 Years of Juche,” while the newspaper referred to Kim Jong Un’s era as the “new 100 Years of Juche.”
For Kim Jong Un, it is critical that his regime improve the North Korean economy in order for him to fully consolidate his power and win the hearts of the North Korean people. Kim is likely to continue to push forward with economic development efforts in 2013, through promoting political stability.
In this year’s New Year’s message, the year 2012 was named as the “year of the people” while agriculture and light industry were said to be major fronts for economic construction of a kangsong taeguk, or strong and prosperous nation. Food shortage and livelihood of the people were also named as major challenges to be resolved to realize kangsong taeguk.
From this year, “June 28 Policy” is likely to continue and already, pilot measures were implemented in selected rural areas to improve economic management and expand autonomy of factories and work sites. Depending on the outcomes of the pilot measure, changes in economic policy is likely to occur this year.
Some new measures likely to take place are as follows: in the agricultural sector, the expansion of farmers’ right to dispose of grain yield; in the industrial sector, the increase of incentives via increasing the autonomy of each company.
The level of celebration is no up to that of Kim Il-sung or Kim Jong-il, but the Daily NK provides interesting details of the new “holiday”:
Inside sources have revealed that North Korea marked January 8th, Kim Jong Eun’s birthday, with a nationwide program of commemorative lectures and meetings, along with the delivery of gifts to children.
A source from Hyesan in Yangkang Province told Daily NK on the 8th, “On the 7th at 5PM, everyone had to attend a commemorative lecture to celebrate the birth of comrade Kim Jong Eun. They congratulated comrade Kim Jong Eun on his 33rd birthday and first year working in the Central Party Committee, and made us declare that we would comprehensively implement the New Year’s Address.”
The source added, “People then had to gather in their units by 7AM this morning to pledge allegiance to him. The main point was to say that we will serve Marshal Kim Jong Eun loyally and only follow the Marshal.”
A second source from Hoiryeong added, “At 7AM today the authorities started distributing gifts to elementary, kindergarten and middle schools to mark comrade Kim Jong Eun’s birthday. In the past gifts were delivered to individual schools, but this time a team was formed to deliver them one by one. This was done so that every child would be sure to receive his or her gift.”
The source explained, “Children had to show their birth certificates to the team to receive their gift bag. The gift bag included five things; a 100g bag of candy, a bag of cookies, candy made of beans, gum and rice crackers. However, the quality of the snacks was no better than in the past, and a lot of the kids didn’t much want to eat them.”
Despite the birthday events, January 8th 2013 still paled in comparison to the events held annually on February 16th and April 15th, the anniversaries of the births of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung respectively. This is because it has only been a year since Kim Jong Eun became supreme leader upon the death of his father. As such, this year the authorities did not hold any public celebration events, a trend that is expected to continue for the first three years of Kim Jong Eun’s rule.
Read the full story here:
January 8th Marked by Lectures and Loyalty Daily NK
Kim Kwang Jin
Pictured Above (Google Earth): Construction of the Sporting Center on Tongil Street ( 38.979300°, 125.702961°)
I watched a documentary of Kim Jong-un’s guidance trips in May 2012 and noticed that there was a visit in the video that was never reported in KCNA (neither the .kp nor the .jp versions) . The visit was to the “Sporting Center in Thongil Street”. I have posted the relevant video to YouTube:
According to the chronology of the video, the guidance trip took place sometime between Kim’s attendance of a performance by the Unhasu Orchestra (2012-5-1) and his guidance trip to the Mangyongdae Funfair (2012-5-9). The visit was unlikely to have taken place on 2012-5-2, however, since Kim is reported to have visited the command of the KPA Air Force (which was not reported in the documentary).
I was unable to recognize the people who attended the guidance trip with Kim, so I asked Michael Madden (NK Leadership Watch), who is quite good at this sort of thing, for some assistance. Here is his response:
[Kim Jong-un] was accompanied at that visit by VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, VMar Hyon Chol Hae, Gen. Pak Jae Gyong, Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju, Pak To Chun, Hwang Pyong So and VMar Ri Yong Ho. Also in attendance were members of the Guard Command and KJU’s personal secretariat.
Interestingly, KCNA did report that Choe Ryong Hae visited this facility on May 30 and hinted at the earlier Kim Jong-un visit:
Choe Ryong Hae Makes Field Survey of Sporting Center in Thongil Street
Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, on Wednesday made field survey of the Sporting Center in Thongil Street.
The construction of the modern center for the promotion of the people’s health started at the initiative of the dear respected Kim Jong Un and under his plan. It is now nearing its completion.
There are in the center with a huge plottage hundreds of sports apparatuses of various kinds, recuperation rooms, table tennis halls, a supersonic wave wading pool, etc.
Choe Ryong Hae went round various places of the center associated with footsteps left by Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un with loving care for the people.
Choe underscored the need for builders to fully display the serve-the-people spirit in building, bearing deep in mind the intention of the supreme commander to make the people fully enjoy wealth and prosperity under socialism.
Each sports apparatus is associated with the warm loving care of the supreme commander, Choe said, calling for managing apparatuses and equipment well to provide convenience to visitors on a priority basis.
Going round the meat and fish shop conducive to improving the diet of people, he underscored the need for the officials and servants of the center to fufil their responsibility and role, deeply cherishing their mission as the servants of the people in hearty response to the party’s slogan “We Serve the People!”
He stressed the need for the soldier-builders to thoroughly implement the order of the supreme commander and successfully complete the center as early as possible.
So I am unsure why KCNA never reported on this particular Kim visit. Theories welcome. It makes me wonder what other visits go unreported!
There is increasing speculation that the new Kim Jong Un regime is pushing toward economic reform. This may be due to Kim’s young age, as he is considered to be more open to change than his father.
According to an unnamed South Korean official, there is a growing prospect that North Korea will soon release a new economic reform measure. More and more testimonies from North Korean defectors suggest that since Kim Jong Il’s death, reform measures are slowly taking place. But it is unclear when such new economic reform measure will occur.
North Korea’s behavior also implies that certain economic reform may occur. The spokesperson for the DPRK’s foreign ministry made a statement last month to the KCNA, “The dear respected Kim Jong Un has already set forth a goal of Korean-style development and strategies and tactics for enabling the Korean people to live well with nothing to desire more in the world. He is now wisely leading the general advance of the Korean people for economic construction and improving the standard of people’s living.” This indirectly suggests that the Kim Jong Un regime will put forth a new economic measure.
On the other hand, the content and timing of such still remains uncertain. According to the NK Intellectuals Solidarity, the Central Committee of Workers’ Party decided on a policy to introduce a new economic management system on August 1, one that would be centered around the cabinet.
What path North Korea will take with the new economic reform is unknown. However, the reform will comprise various economic sectors including agriculture, commerce, production and distribution. Details of the reform are unavailable.
The NK Intellectuals Solidarity predicted that new measures will be centered around the legalization of permitting private investment and commercial activities in service and trade sectors and private contract system for agriculture.
In contrast, Daily NK expects the core of the new economic measure will involve downsizing of cooperative farms (from 10-to-25 people in size to 4-to-6 people) and permit farming in unused lands; enforce government procurement system based on market price and strengthening self-supporting accounting system for companies.
The Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper ran an editorial on July 11 that North Korea’s economic revival strategy is to follow the global trend but doing it “our-way.” The news also added that North Korea has already entered the path toward economic restoration and praised Kim Jong Un’s “our-style development goal and strategy” to improve the lives of the people while following the current trend of knowledge-based economy.
The news explicated that emphasis on “following the global trend” did not mean following and copying other nations but aimed for the nation to develop and rise on its own to reach the most advanced level of society. In addition, it is considered a refute against South Korea’s over interpretation about the possibility for opening and reform in North Korea during the Kim Jong Un era.
June 30 marked the six-month period since Kim Jong Un was appointed as the supreme leader, after the sudden death of his father, Kim Jong Il on December 17.
For the first six months in power, Kim Jong Un made a total of 80 official activities, which was 19 activities more than Kim Jong Il, in the same period, last year. Out of the 80 official activities, 28 (35 percent) activities were military related. This is drastically higher than his father’s 3 activities, a mere 5 percent of his total activities. Kim Jong Un holds the top titles in the military, party, and the government as the supreme leader, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and first chairman of the Korean People’s Army. But he mainly concentrated on the military for the first half of 2012.
However, his inspection to military units gradually decreased, from 10 in January to 5 from February to April. In May, he made 3 visits while he did not make any visits in June. This suggests he is slowly retreating from military related activities.
In the first half of 2011, Kim Jong Il concentrated heavily on the economy, making 29 onsite inspections (48 percent) to economic sectors while Kim Jong Un has made only 3 visits (3.8 percent) thus far. However, Kim Jong Un made 16 visits to the construction sites of apartment buildings, amusement parks, and other community related sites and appeared in 9 commemorative photo sessions. Upon a closer examination, Kim Jong Un engrossed on visiting military units from January to April and switched over to housing and community sites from May to June. This can be interpreted as an effort in following his father’s undertaking to revive the economy, taking heed to the improvement of welfare for the people.
In particular, it is interesting to note that North Korean media is reporting photo sessions as official activities of its leader. Kim Jong Il has also took photos after his official visits but Kim Jong Un is attending photo sessions as the sole activity. Many experts construe this as image manipulation attempt, to associate Kim Jong Un with Kim Il Sung, as he mingles with the people in photographs.
Another major difference with his father is Kim Jong Un’s lack of diplomatic activities. Kim Jong Il made numerous visits to China and Russia last year and engaged in a total of 7 diplomatic activities which includes inviting Meng Jianzhu, Chinese minister of public security visit to Pyongyang in February. Except for sending congratulatory messages to Cuba and other countries, Kim Jong Un has yet to engage in diplomatic meetings.
One commonality is, Kim Jong Un like his father is enjoying various cultural performances between field inspections. Kim Jong Il is recorded to have attended 18 performances while Kim Jong Un attended 8.
The latest report by KCNA on Kim Jong Un’s official activity is visit to nearly completed Rungra People’s Pleasure Park and the construction site of Breast Cancer Institute in Pyongyang Maternity Hospital on July 1. This is his official visit in 24 days since he attended the 66th anniversary ceremony of Korean Children’s Union.
On the other hand, while Kim Jong Un is increasing contact with the people, control and regulation of the people are also stiffened. After Kim Jong Un rise to power, the number of defectors is steadily declining. According to the Ministry of Unification, only 610 defectors entered the country this year (January to May), which is a drop of 42.6 percent from the previous year of 1,062. An official from MOU confirmed that the decrease in the number of defectors can be attributed to the tightened border control by the North Korean authorities.
Recently, Kim Jong Un is making a series of visits around various sports and recreational facilities in Pyongyang including Mangyongdae and Kaeson Youth Amusement parks, Ryugyong Health Complex, and People’s Outdoor Ice Rink.
Kim Jong Un is reported to have made field guidance visits to the construction site of Changjon Street, which is approaching its completion. The street will be home to 5 to 45-story apartment buildings with preschools, kindergartens, secondary schools, pharmacy and other educational and health facilities as well as various welfare and service facilities in the vicinity.
The KCNA reported on May 25 the details of Kim Jong Un’s visit to the site.
Kim Jong Un went round various restaurants, shops and stalls and parking lot in the basement, etc. to acquaint himself in detail with the construction of the street.
He looked round various parts of Haemaji Restaurant built in a peculiar style and was satisfied with it.
He made the rounds of various other restaurants including the combined restaurant of the Jung District and Unjong Teahouse built in diverse styles to learn in detail about their size, furnishings, decorations, ventilation, etc.
He personally sat on a chair of the restaurant and underscored the need to thoroughly abide by the principle of guaranteeing convenience first and architectural beauty next when designing and manufacturing any furniture so that it may be convenient for use and look nice.
The KCNA elaborated on Kim’s comments as he looked around the establishment.
He said with pride that the successful construction of the modern street by the efforts of Koreans as required by the new century is a demonstration of the validity of the WPK’s idea of architectural aesthetics and the potential of the Juche-based self-supporting economy.
He indicated important tasks to serve as guidelines for building Pyongyang into a more magnificent city as required by the Songun era
It is also necessary to distribute well educational, healthcare, sports, cultural and welfare facilities and welfare service bases on the principle of ensuring popular character, national identity and modernity.
In addition to these visits, Kim previously gave a talk “On Effecting a Drastic Turn in Land Management to Meet the Requirements for Building a Thriving Socialist Nation” on April 27 with leading officials of the party, state economic bodies, and working people’s organizations to propose a large scale plans for land management.
North Korea’s official web portal, Naenara, or “My country” released the entire text of the DPRK’s Constitution, which was amended on April 13 by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
According to the amended Constitution, the constitution is now referred to as the “Kim Il Sung–Kim Jong Il Constitution.” It was formerly known as the “Kim Il Sung Constitution.” The preamble also includes the achievements of Kim Jong Il, crediting him with making North Korea a nuclear power.
The amended preamble eulogizes Kim Jong Il as a “patriot without parallel who exalted the dignity of our people and our national power to supreme status.”
It also credits Kim Jong Il with turning “our motherland into an ever-victorious power of political thought, a nuclear power and an invincible military power and opened a great, brilliant path to the construction of a powerful and prosperous nation.”
It added, “In the midst of the collapse of world socialism and the wicked attacks of the imperialist alliance, Kim Jong Il gloriously defended the noble socialist inheritance of comrade Kim Il Sung with military-first politics, turning our nation into an invincible political ideological state, nuclear-armed state and undefeatable militarily strong state, and paving the glorious way to the construction of the strong and prosperous state.”
The amended Constitution extols Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s accomplishments and particularly emphasized the success of two nuclear tests leading to the country’s rise as a nuclear power.
The renamed “Kim Il Sung–Kim Jong Il Constitution” emphasized the lineage of Mount Paektu passed on from Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and finally on to Kim Jong Un.
In the Constitution, Section 1 of Chapter 6 (State Organs) on the Supreme People’s Assembly included the provision of the title “Chairman of the National Defense Commission” to “First Chairman of the National Defense Commission.”
In the same chapter, Article 107 of Section 2 states, “The National Defense Commission consists of First Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and members.” Previously, it stated that the NDC consisted of the Chairman, First Vice-Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, and members.
In addition, Article 91 states the powers of the SPA which include the authority to “elect or recall the First Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (Clause 5) and “elect or recall Vice-Chairman and members of the National Defense Commission on the recommendations of the First Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (Clause 7).
Chris Green at the Daily NK translates it this way:
“In the midst of the collapse of world socialism and the wicked attacks of the imperialist alliance,” the most notable phrase declares, “Kim Jong Il gloriously defended the noble socialist inheritance of comrade Kim Il Sung with military-first politics, turning our nation into an invincible political ideological state, nuclear-armed state and undefeatable militarily strong state, and paving the glorious way to the construction of the strong and prosperous state.”
Chris Green also notes:
It has been revealed that last month’s Supreme People’s Assembly session in Pyongyang, the event which saw Kim Jong Il enshrined as eternal chairman of the National Defense Commission and Kim Jong Eun elevated to 1st chairman of the same body, also saw North Korea amend the ‘Socialist Constitution of the DPRK’. Most controversially, the revised constitution declares North Korea to be a nuclear-armed state.
Elsewhere, pre-existing clauses have been lightly amended to include reference to Kim Jong Il alongside his father. For example, the opening sentence of the preamble now states, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the socialist motherland of Juche which has applied the idea and leadership of great leader comrade Kim Il Sung and great leader comrade Kim Jong Il.” The pre-existing sentence ended on the words “Kim Il Sung.”
Pyongyang’s decision to list itself as a nuclear state indicates that it has no intention of giving up its nuclear program. The North Korean regime apparently has not been deterred by the possibility of an international dispute, given Washington and Seoul’s refusal to recognize its right to nuclear arms.
A government official said, “With North Korea officially stating its possession of nuclear capabilities in its Constitution, denuclearization is looking even less likely. All this has done is fan apprehensions in other concerned nations.” Other analysts suggested the move was intended by domestic political concerns, specifically to legitimize Kim Jong-un as ruler.
Yonhap reports that the US has declared that it will never recognize the DPRK as a nuclear state. South Korea said much the same thing.
Wow. In the (approximately) seven years of KCNA reports I have perused on Kim Jong-il’s and Kim jong-un’s guidance trips I have never heard of either of the leaders adopting the tone Kim Jong-un deployed on this trip.
Pictured above (Google Earth): The Mangyongdae Funfair (Not to be confused with the Kaeson funfair or the Taesongsan Funfair). I have actually visited this funfair twice. See here and here.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lashed out at officials of an amusement park for neglecting to take proper care of the facility’s grounds and rides, the North’s state media said Wednesday in an apparent move to highlight the leader’s concern for his people.
North Korean media, including the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said Kim inspected the Mangyongdae Funfair in Pyongyang and scolded officials there after discovering flaws throughout the park.
It is the first time the North Korean media have reported a public censure by the new leader. Reports on similar activities by Kim’s father and late leader Kim Jong-il were also rare.
According to the news reports, Kim Jong-un noticed a damaged path in front of a Viking ride and called it “pathetic,” while also pointing out flaws in the park’s gardens and a roller coaster, the condition of paint on rides and the safety of a water park.
“Seeing the weeds grown in between pavement blocks in the compound of the funfair, he, with an irritated look, plucked them up one by one,” the KCNA said in an English-language dispatch monitored in Seoul. “He said in an excited tone that he has never thought that the funfair is under such a bad state and a proverb that the darkest place is under the candlestick fits the funfair.”
The KCNA reported Kim’s rebukes in detail, using strong expressions of disapproval.
“He scolded officials, saying why such things do not come in their sight and querying could the officials of the funfair work like this, had they had the attitude befitting master, affection for their work sites and conscience to serve the people,” it said. “Plucking up weeds can be done easily with hands as it is different from updating facilities, he added.”
Kim also instructed officials to draw a lesson from touring the site and take it as a warning of the need for a “proper spirit of serving the people,” the KCNA said.
Choe Ryong-hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People’s Army (KPA), accompanied Kim on the trip and received the task of “sprucing up the funfair as required by the new century by dispatching strong construction forces of the KPA.”
Analysts in Seoul viewed the North Korean media’s unusual approach as an attempt by the leadership to transform Kim’s image. The new leader, believed to be in his late 20s, has thus far been portrayed as a friendly and gentle character with a striking resemblance to his grandfather and founding leader Kim Il-sung. Now, the aim is apparently to depict him as a leader who deals sternly with his aides in order to serve the public, the analysts said.
“It’s an attempt by Kim Jong-un to tighten discipline among ranking officials,” said Jang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University. “The fact that it was broadcast shows that the aim is to instill an awareness among ranking officials across North Korea that Kim Jong-un is a benevolent leader but also strict when it comes to principles.”
Jang also said the report could serve other purposes, such as proving Kim’s ability to look after detailed aspects of policy, or blaming government officials for the people’s frustrations.
Below I have posted the original KCNA report of the event:
Kim Jong-un’s first public speech: New direction for economic policy stressed
Institute For Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
Kim Jong Un, the first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, made his first speech during a military parade to commemorate the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, released an article on April 19 with the details of the speech.
In the article, Kim Jong Un emphasized, “songun is our autonomy, dignity and life” and pledged to uphold the songun politics to continue the teachings of his father, Kim Jong Il.
Kim Jong Un also underlined that the most important national agenda is becoming a powerful nation through improving the national economy, and resolving the food shortage problem. In addition, he stressed that strong knowledge-based economy must be built by way of new industrial revolution.
The economic policy Kim Jong Un set forth involved resolving the food crisis for the people, development of light industry, transition to a powerful knowledge-based economy, land management, and improvement of cultural and education projects. The Cabinet will be directing the new economic plan. The details of the plan are as follows:
First, in order to resolve the food issue, agricultural production should be improved through investment and technological assistance from the state level. Grain yields should be increased to reach the grain production goals to normalize food distribution for the people.
Second, light industry must be reinforced to resolve the shortages of daily necessities. Specific measures should be established to secure raw materials and to improve the quality to elevate the demand of North Korean products.
Third, housing, food, fuel and other issues related to livelihood must be given priority to improve the quality of life for the people.
Fourth, basic industrial sectors must be developed to build a strong foundation for economic development which can lead to advance production in all areas of the people’s economy.
Fifth, power, coal, metal, and railway system should lead the way to revitalize the people’s economy and stabilize the lives of the people. In particular, power production must be drastically increased and distributed in order to effectively improve the quality of life and monitoring and control must be reinforced.
Sixth, the nation must be established as a strong knowledge-based nation. It was acknowledged that the world is quickly transitioning to the informatization of the economy and North Korea must develop the national economy and build an economic structure that meets international demand. Science and technology should be the forerunner to incorporate science and technology with production and resolve all problems in the economic development process from the science and technology aspect.
ORIGINAL POST (2012-4-15): KCNA reports on the speech:
Kim Jong Un Speaks at Military Parade
Pyongyang, April 15 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un made a congratulatory speech at the military parade celebrating the centenary of the birth of Generalissimo Kim Il Sung.
In his speech Kim Jong Un said that the military parade is a great festival of victors which was provided according to the noble intention of leader Kim Jong Il and on his direct initiative to glorify forever the feats Kim Il Sung performed in the army building and demonstrate the might of the socialist power before the world.
Kim Il Sung, who directed primary efforts to strengthening the revolutionary armed forces in the whole period of his protracted revolutionary activities, worked such military miracle in the 20th century as defeating the most ferocious two imperialisms in one generation, trained the Korean People’s Army into a match-for-a hundred revolutionary army, put all the people under arms and turned the whole country into a fortress, providing a strong military guarantee for the sovereignty of the country and the eternal prosperity of the nation, he noted.
Kim Jong Il, who regarded it as his lifelong mission to carry forward and accomplish the Songun revolutionary cause of Juche pioneered by Kim Il Sung, ushered in the greatest heyday of the development of the Korean revolutionary armed forces with his extraordinary wisdom, outstanding commanding art and matchless grit, he said, and went on:
The Korean revolutionary armed forces have fully demonstrated the might of the powerful revolutionary army distinct in its revolutionary nature and strong in its militant spirit and might under the care of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
The military and technical superiority is no longer a monopoly of the imperialists and gone are the days when the enemies could threaten and blackmail against the DPRK with A bombs.
The far-reaching strategy and final victory of the Korean revolution lie in advancing straight along the road of independence, the road of Songun and the path of socialism indicated by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
It is the firm resolution of the Workers’ Party of Korea to enable our people, the best people in the world who have remained loyal to the party, overcoming all difficulties, to live, without tightening their belts any longer, and fully enjoy wealth and prosperity under socialism.
The WPK and the DPRK government will join hands with anyone who truly wants the reunification of the country and the peace and prosperity of the nation and make responsible and patient efforts to accomplish the historic cause of national reunification.
The sun’s flag of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will fly forever before the ranks of the Korean revolution demonstrating victory and glory only and will always encourage us to win fresh victories, he concluded.