Kim Jong-un’s first public speech

Pictured above: Kim Jong-un delivers his first public address in Kim Il-sung Square

You can watch the video of the entire speech on YouTube here. And just for fun, here is a link to Kim Jong-il’s only public address which I posted to Youtube last year. I also posted this video of Kim Jong-il speaking at a meeting with South Korean president Roh Roh Moo-hyun.

UPDATE 2 (2012-4-25): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) has posted some analysis of the speech:

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.

UPDATE 1 (2012-4-18): Martyn Williams somehow managed to put up a full English translation of the talk.

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.

More below…

Here is a portion of the coverage by the Associated Press:

North Korea’s new leader addressed his nation and the world for the first time Sunday, vowing to place top priority on his impoverished country’s military, which promptly unveiled a new long-range missile.

The speech was the culmination of two weeks of celebrations marking the centenary of the birth of his grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung — festivities that were marred by a failed launch Friday of a rocket that generated international condemnation and cost North Korea a food aid-for-nuclear-freeze deal with Washington.

Kim Jong Un’s speech took North Koreans gathered at Kim Il Sung Square and around televisions across the country by surprise. His father, late leader Kim Jong Il, addressed the public only once in his lifetime.

Appearing calm and measured as he read the 20-minute speech, Kim Jong Un covered a wide range of topics, from foreign policy to the economy. His speech, and a military parade that followed, capped the carefully choreographed festivities commemorating Kim Il Sung’s birthday, which included a massive fireworks display.

It was the best look yet the outside world has had of the young Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s.

Punctuating Kim’s message that the North will continue to pour funds into its military, the parade culminated with the unveiling of a new long-range missile, though it’s not clear how powerful or significant the addition to the North Korean arsenal is. Some analysts suggested it might have been a dummy designed to dupe outside observers.

Although the rocket launch Friday was a huge, costly embarrassment for the new leadership, Kim’s address was seen by analysts as an expression of confidence by the young leader and meant to show that he is firmly in control.

“Superiority in military technology is no longer monopolized by imperialists, and the era of enemies using atomic bombs to threaten and blackmail us is forever over,” Kim said.

His message suggested no significant changes in national policy — the “Military First” strategy has long been at the center of North Korea’s decision-making process.

But there was strong symbolism in the images of the new leader addressing the country on state TV and then watching — and often laughing and gesturing in relaxed conversation with senior officials — as the cream of his nation’s 1.2 million-strong military marched by.

Outside analysts have raised worries about how Kim, who has been seen but not publicly heard since taking over after his father’s December death, would govern a country that has a nuclear weapons program and has previously threatened Seoul and Washington with war.

At the celebration of Kim Il Sung, he appeared to clear his first hurdle.

The speech was a good “first impression for his people and for the world,” said Hajime Izumi, a North Korea expert at Japan’s Shizuoka University. “He demonstrated that he can speak in public fairly well, and at this stage that in itself — more than what he actually said — is important. I think we might be seeing him speak in public more often, and show a different style than his father.”

Kim said he will strengthen North Korea’s defenses by placing the country’s “first, second and third” priorities on military might. But he said he is open to working with foreign countries that do not have hostile policies toward his nation, and said he would strive to reunify Korea.

He also stressed the importance of national unity, calling his country “Kim Il Sung’s Korea” rather than North Korea.

“That suggests to me that they want to let the country, and the world, know that this is a ‘new’ country,” said Han S. Park, a University of Georgia professor who works frequently with top U.S. and North Korean officials, after watching the events in Pyongyang.

Despite his youth, Kim has been groomed since his teens to step into this role, Park said, citing conversations with North Koreans with knowledge of the leader’s personal history.

Cha Myong Hui, a journalist with the government-run Minju Joson newspaper, said she was struck by how much he resembles his father and grandfather.

“I can tell you every person in my country cried when they heard his voice,” she said.

The young leader said he will aggressively pursue economic growth to improve people’s daily lives. North Korea has suffered decades of economic hardship following a famine in the mid-1990s and the loss of aid from the Soviet Union. Kim Jong Un’s formal three-year succession has coincided with a push to improve the economy by employing modern technology.

Kim made no direct mention of the rocket failure. But North Korea’s state media made an extraordinary announcement hours after the launch, saying that the attempt to send a satellite into space had flopped. It still claims past launches succeeded, which international experts deny.

CNN also reports that Kim Jong-un promised an end to hunger in the DPRK:

Kim also vowed never to let the country starve.

“Our fellow citizens, who are the best citizens in the world, who have overcome countless struggles and hardships, it is our party’s firmest resolve not to let our citizens go hungry again,” he said.

The Daily NK reports on the efforts the DPRK went through to make sure everyone saw the speech:

The North Korean authorities instructed the people to gather at work and schools in formal wear and submit a report after watching the Kim Il Sung centennial military parade live. The people gathered at designated places cheered in enthusiastic applause just like the crowd and military gathered at Kim Il Sung square.

Inside sources told the Daily NK on the 16th, “Unlike the previous times when we got two days off from work during birthday celebrations, we went to work on the Day of the Sun (15th) and watched TV in a crowd”, “There were orders from the Central Party to write reports after watching the military parade on TV”.

The people who did not go to work went to schools, social groups or people’s unit gatherings instead.

The source revealed, “Because of orders to celebrate the event simultaneously in all regions, people in various districts wore formal clothes and sat in front of the TV in a respectful atmosphere”. In North Korea, ‘formal clothes’ are considered to be people’s unit uniforms, suits or the hanbok (Korean traditional clothes).

According to the source, the people gathered arose and clapped along with the mass broadcasted on TV at Kim Il Sung square. Soon after Kim Jong Eun’s speech ended, all shouted and applauded.

Following the view of the two hour celebration the people watched a round-table talk attended by party, administrative, central cadres, scientists, artists and all social standing personnel.

Sources said, “The people were instructed to write reports while watching the TV but some were just filling in space taking notes from the round-table talks”. Most of the people were surprised how similar Kim Jong Eun is to, “Kim Il Sung, his appearance, behavior and tone of voice”. Some anticipated, “Is the Kim Il Sung era coming back?”.

In contrast were ridiculed comments such as, “It is like seeing a well-woven concert”, “It was a great piece of political theater that had excellent acting and directing”. The people seem to have noticed the North Korean authorities’ intentions to idolize Kim Jong Eun like his grandfather Kim Il Sung.

Meanwhile, the people who did not enjoy a break on the day of the holiday were given two days of vacation on the 16th and 17th.

The Daily NK also interviewed DPRK defectors to get their impressions of the speech. They all noticed just how much Kim Jong-un resembles his grandfather. According to the article:

Kim Jong Eun’s first twenty minute public speech at Kim Il Sung’s centennial birthday has emerging responses from the North Korean defectors that Kim Jong Eun surprisingly “resembles his grandfather”.

Kim Jong Eun had his eyes fixed on his note emphasizing the continuation of ‘military first politics’. Kim Jong Eun waved his body from left to right during the speech and delivered in a calm voice but showed no ambition. Evaluation comes that it was difficult to feel the ‘charisma’ of a Supreme Leader.

The defectors who watched the clip of Kim Jong Eun’s speech unanimously said, “He is trying hard to give the same voice and gesture as his grandfather Kim Il Sung.” Especially in the last part of the speech when he shouted “Forward!” and threw his right hand out is exactly the same gesture Kim Il Sung used to do often.

In particular, the defectors said that Kim Jong Eun looking at the mass after each sentence and rocking his body side to side while speaking are exactly the same gestures as his grandfather.

Kim Chul Min a former senior military official from North Korea revealed to Daily NK, “Kim Jong Eun’s appearance and voice, rocking body from side to side, looking at the mass after his sentences are all gestures that resemble Kim Il Sung”. In particular, his aides wearing a white uniform standing next to Kim Jong Eun brings up Kim Il Sung’s days.

Choi Ryong Hae, Lee Young Ho and Jang Sung Taek wore the same white military uniform at the public speech of the victory parade in 1953 after the armistice agreement. At time during the Korean War Kim Il Sung and his close advisers wore a white top uniform and dark blue pants.

North Korean defector Choi In Hae also said, “Kim Jong Eun’s speech reminded me of Kim Il Sung”, “Kim Jong Eun’s hand movement in the last part of the speech was the exact replay of Kim Il Sung’s documentary films”, “Kim Jong Il never showed any hand gestures but Kim Il Sung did it a lot”.

The defectors said that it is intended to give the people high expectations for the system evoking nostalgia of the Kim Il Sung era. It is interpret that this process of image making Kim Jong Eun as the ‘wealthy era’ is to obtain support from the people.

Seo Jae Pyung the secretary general for the Democratization of North Korea pointed out, “The North Koreans have doubts about Kim Jong Eun but through ‘like-Kim Il Sung’ speech may be able to earn expectations from the people”, “However, if there are no substantial changes then the people will realize that it is merely just a image making show”.

Kim also emphasized, “They would have ‘a little bit of hope’ at first but if there are no changes in the regime no more expectations will come”, “Most people already know that Kim Jong Eun is imitating Kim Il Sung to gain loyalty from them”.


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