UPDATE 2 (2014-12-9): Although there can be only one Kim Jong-un (and previously Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il), the same level of reverence is apparently not reserved for Kim Jong-suk, Kim Jong-il’s mother and former wife of Kim Il-sung. There is currently another Kim jong-suk serving in the South Korean government According to KCNA (2012-11-29):
Jindallae Children’s Foundation Created
Pyongyang, November 29 (KCNA) — There took place at the People’s Palace of Culture here on Nov. 29 a ceremony of establishing Jindallae Children’s Foundation and donating funds.
Present there were Kim Jong Suk, chairwoman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries of the DPRK, and officials concerned and the visiting delegation for the establishment of the foundation headed by Jindallae Saphariny and foreign diplomats and embassy officials here.
A South Korean official said Wednesday that Pyongyang forbids its people from using the same name as the young absolute leader.
The measure appears meant to bolster a personality cult surrounding Kim, who took over after the death of his dictator father Kim Jong Il in late 2011. Seoul officials have said Pyongyang also banned the use of the names of Kim Jong Il and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.
The South Korean official said Kim Jong Il in early 2011 ordered citizens with the same name as his son to get new names and demanded that authorities reject birth registrations of newborn babies with the name.
The official requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. He refused to disclose how the information was obtained.
Although there is no real proof for this story, I find it entirely plausible. The case was the same for Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.
So far in August, Kim Jong Un’s onsite inspection visits have focused particularly on economic-related sectors – a shift from the previous month, when the young leader visited mostly military bases, providing field guidance on one occasion during a rocket firing drill.
North Korean media continues to criticize the US-ROK Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise (which will be held this month) and increase the threat level by reporting on “continuous military training” and “strengthening of nuclear capabilities.” However, the last few official visits that Kim made were mainly economic related.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 7 reported that Kim Jong Un made a field guidance visitation to a sock factory in Pyongyang and emphasized, “It is important to make good business management strategy.” Previously KCNA reported Kim’s visit to Chonji Lubricant Factory on August 5, and Chollima Tile Factory on August 3.
Kim’s public activities in July, however, focused chiefly on military related sites. He visited Korean Peoples’ Army (KPA) Navy commanding officers, directed their aquatics training, and provided guidance at ground, naval, air, and air defense forces of the KPA for island landing combat training.
Meanwhile, the regime’s new catchphrase “speed battle” is increasingly being used. In addition to public mobilization slogans such as “Masikryong Speed” and “Chosun Speed,” another new phrase has appeared: “Kim Jong Un’s Spirit of the Offensive.”
In order to aggrandize Kim Jong Un’s achievements, soldiers were mobilized to various construction sites including Masik Pass (or Masikryong), Munsu Water Park, and Mirim Equestrian Club. Continually, soldiers have been observed working at ongoing construction project sites, including Satellite Scientist Street in Pyongyang.
During this process, North Korea is vaunting “Masikryong Speed” and “Chosun Speed” — which is a reference to rapid construction — as an important achievement of Kim Jong Un. After the collapse of a 23-story apartment building on May 13, the young leader has emphasized the importance of safety; nevertheless, speed battles continue to be promoted.
In this light, recently North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun published a lengthy article which describes exceptional officials of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), stating that “the current times call for workers with fighting spirit.”
UPDATE: Below is a list of Kim Jong-un’s guidance trips in August as of the date this article was published:
Yonphung Rest Home for Scientists
Guides Tactical Rocket Test-fire (Hodo Peninsula, Kumya County)
Kalma Foodstuff Factory
Apartment Houses for University Educators [Kimchaek]
Construction Sites of Pyongyang Baby Home and Orphanage Again
Examining Women’s Football of National Sports Team (Kangdong)
machine plant managed by Jon Tong Ryol
men’s volleyball game between the General Bureau of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Land and Maritime Transport
Pyongyang Hosiery Factory
Chonji Lubricant Factory
Chollima Tile Factory [Taedonggang Tile Factory]
These are the remainder of the guidance trips in August that occurred after the IFES article was published. They are predominantly military focused:
Guides Actual Parachuting and Striking Drill of Paratrooper Units of KPA
November 2 Factory of KPA
Breeding Station No. 621 of the KPA
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un nearly doubled his inspection tours of the economy last year, the unification ministry said Tuesday, underscoring his pledge to improve the country’s economic conditions.
Kim made 71 economy-related public appearances out of a total of 209 public outings last year, the ministry said, citing data released by the North’s state media.
In 2012, Kim made 37 economy-related public appearances out of a total of 151 public appearances.
Kim has called for efforts to boost agricultural output in a country where the U.N. World Food Program says the food security situation is still serious, with 84 percent of all households having borderline or poor food consumption.
Meanwhile, the young leader visited military bases and made other military-related public appearances on 62 occasions, compared with 49 in 2012, the ministry said.
The figures suggest that Kim still places major importance on the country’s 1.1 million-strong military, a key backbone of the power he inherited upon the death of his father, the late leader Kim Jong-il, in 2011.
Kim Jong-il advocated military-first, or “songun,” politics that channeled the country’s scarce resources into the armed forces, helping him maintain their loyalty.
Kim Jong-un’s public appearances also offered a rare glimpse of the rise and fall of his aides.
In 2012, Kim’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek accompanied the leader on 106 occasions, followed in a distant second by Choe Ryong-hae, the North Korean military’s top political officer, with 85.
A year later, Jang accompanied Kim on 52 occasions while Choe accompanied the leader on 153 occasions, according to the ministry.
Choe, a former provincial chief of the ruling Workers’ Party, appears to have secured a position as the country’s new No. 2 figure following the December execution of Jang on charges of treason.
Read the full story here:
N. Korean leader nearly doubles economic inspections Yonhap
Honorary Doctorate in Economics Awarded to Kim Jong Un in Malaysia
Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un was awarded the degree of honorary doctor of economics from the Help University of Malaysia.
A ceremony for conveying the certificate and costume took place in Kuala Lumpur on October 3.
Present there were public figures of all social standings including the president of the university who is its establisher, the DPRK ambassador to the country and his embassy members.
The president said it is honor and historic event for his university to award the degree of honorary doctor to Kim Jong Un, who is the first foreign head of state to receive the degree by the university.
We decided to award the degree to Kim Jong Un who makes untiring efforts for the education of the country and the well-being of its people, the president said, adding that this is the pride of the university.
He hoped that the cooperation between the DPRK and Malaysia in the field of education would develop in the future.
The certificate and costume were handed over to the DPRK ambassador.
The North Korean authorities have revised the “Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System” (hereafter the “Ten Principles”). The phrase “General Kim Jong Il” has been added to the revised version, whose core structure remains in place.
The Ten Principles, each of which has a number of sub-sections, reflect the demand that all North Korean citizens be guided by the thoughts and deeds of Kim Il Sung. They were formulated in the 1970s by Kim Jong Il during the process of his anointment as successor, and act as guidelines that both underwrite Kim family rule over North Korea and facilitate the mass repression of the country’s populace. They are memorized by every citizen.
A source from North Hamkyung Province revealed the breaking news on the 9th, telling Daily NK by phone, “They announced the new Ten Principles in a provincial Party meeting last week. Study of the new Ten Principles was launched in factory and enterprise cell lectures last weekend; we expect them to start study sessions on the new version in people’s units this coming weekend.” Given the timing, it is likely that study of the new Ten Principles will begin in schools when students return in September.
“They have not produced a formal pamphlet outlining the new Ten Principles, so cadres have been disseminating them from their own official documents,” the source explained. “There are no huge differences from the old Ten Principles; they have just added the words ‘the General’ after the name of the Suryeong.”
“The second principle, which used to state that ‘We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung with all our loyalty’ has been amended to state ‘We must honor the Great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il with all our loyalty’,” the source explained. “They’ve inserted the phrase ‘General Kim Jong Il’ because Kim Jong Il is Kim Jong Eun’s father, and to help make the idolization of Kim Jong Il permanent.”
In North Korean dictionaries of philosophy, the Ten Principles are defined as follows: “The ideological system by which the whole party and people is firmly armed with the revolutionary ideology of the Suryeong and united solidly around him, carrying out the revolutionary battle and construction battle under the sole leadership of the Suryeong.”
The communist country changed the “10 rules of its monolithic ideological system” in June, which have a more direct impact on everyday lives of its citizens than the country’s Constitution or the bylaw of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
The rules were first introduced in April 1974 to outline the importance of unconditional obedience to the leader and what actions must be taken by the country as a whole to express allegiance.
Local Pyongyang watchers claimed that the rules made up of 10 articles and 65 sections were reduced by five sections, with emphasis placed on justifying the inheritance of power by the incumbent leader by highlighting the need for the country to fully complete the legacies left behind by the country’s founder Kim Il-sung and his son and former leader Kim Jong-il.
The move marks the first time Pyongyang opted to change the rules governing the leadership system in 39 years.
“The changes are tailored to reflect the character and goal of the country under Kim Jong-un and to strengthen the leader’s grip on power,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.
In a characteristic dynastic succession of power in the North, the current leader Kim Jong-un took power following the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.
Every North Korean is taught to pledge loyalty to each generation of the Kim family, known in the communist country as the Mount Paektu bloodline, that has run the country since its founding in 1948.
Mount Paektu, or Baekdu, located on the Sino-North Korean border, is the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula.
The latest revisions to the 10 key rules also omitted all reference to dictatorship of the proletariat and communism. The North had erased all mention of communism from its Constitution and the WPK bylaw in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
In addition, the prologue of the new rules stated that the country has acquired military capabilities based on nuclear arms and that it is in the process of striving for economic self-reliance. The North had proclaimed itself as a nuclear power when it changed its Constitution in April last year.
Related to the changes, the Ministry of Unification said that the recent amendment is part of a continuing process of trying to prop up the current leader.
“The latest move mirrors changes that have already been reflected in the Constitution and other laws,” Seoul’s unification ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said.
Read the full story here:
NK Adds Kim Jong Il to ‘Ten Principles’ Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
Compared to last year, the activities of Kim Jong Un for the first half of 2013 revealed that he took part in more public activities with working groups rather than senior officials.
According to the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU), Kim Jong Un has made 95 public appearances, which is an increase of 117 percent compared to the previous year of 81 public activities.
In particular, Kim took part in military related activities the most (29 times) as the U.S. and South Korea held joint military exercises (Key Resolve and Foal Eagle) in the earlier part of this year. His other public activities were economic related (28 times), social and cultural (18 times), political (14 times), and attendance at various performances (8 times).
However, starting from April 1, Chairman Kim’s military-related activities from first quarter to second quarter decreased from 50 to 15 percent while his economy-related activities increased from 10 to 50 percent.
Furthermore, economy-related activities this year entailed visitations to production units in machinery factories, cooperative farms, and business enterprises and complexes. The previous year saw mainly entertainment-related activities.
Compared to his father Kim Jong Il, on his onsite inspections Kim Jong Un was accompanied by an entourage consisting of proportionally more working-level officials rather than senior officials. While his first year inspections were accompanied by senior officials, the group accompanying Kim Jong Un are younger and experienced officials in the field. In particular, Choe Hwi, first vice department director of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee, is seen with Kim Jong Un the most. Choe Hwi is a graduate of Kim Il Sung University and served as secretary of the Youth League and senior deputy director of the Korean Workers’ Party politburo.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Unification Ministry estimated the amount of rice reserve in North Korea remains the same as last year, although there is regional variation. Grain imports are at 75 percent against the previous year, and the food ration and situation range widely by region. The market price for 1 kg of rice is 5,000 KPW, which is valued at approximately 1.667 USD, or about 600 g per one USD or 8,000 KRW.
In addition, the MOU assesses that North Korea is making changes in its economic management under the name of “Our Method of Economic Management,” with relatively heavy focus on agriculture, light, and distribution industries. The North Korean leadership seems to recognize the importance of production output in the economic sector. However, it will be impossible to observe immediate results without improvements in raw materials, power, machines, and equipment.
On the other hand, the MOU analyzes that the North Korean leadership is placing more attention on the agricultural sector and improving production and supply of fertilizer since it shows an immediately visible result in the agricultural sector, especially to the North Korean residents. In this regard, the military is also increasingly emphasizing “self-reliance” and the need for “solving food issues on its own.”
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