N.Korean New Year’s statement calls for continuation of policies

Posted on : 2012-01-02 13:26 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
With Kim Il-sung`s 100th birthday in 2012, the North plans to seek industrial and military improvement
 Jan. 1.
(KCNA Yonhap)
Jan. 1. (KCNA Yonhap)

By Kim Kyu-won, Staff Writer

North Korea's joint New Year's editorial Sunday emphasized the execution of the late Kim Jong-il's policies as his youngest son Kim Jong-un takes over leadership of the country. Analysts interpreted it as an expression of Pyongyang's intention to maintain Kim Jong-il's policies under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, the vice chairman of the Workers' Party of Party Central Military Commission.

The joint editorial by the Rodong Sinmun, the Korean People's Army, and the Youth League stated that in 2012, the hundredth anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth, North Korea would need to "carry out the instructions of Comrade Kim Jong-il and the policies he presented with utter thoroughness and strength and develop them into the most solid unity, carrying on single-minded solidarity."

In particular, the editorial drew attention to the continuity between the two leaders by saying that "Comrade Kim Jong-un is Comrade Kim Jong-il." Analysts interpreted this is as emphasizing the application of Kim Jong-il's instructions in governance and the country's system of single leadership.

North Korea releases New Year's addresses every year in the form of a joint editorial on the first day of January to state the course for its governance in the upcoming year.

In terms of inter-Korean relations, this year’s editorial emphasized the country's established principles on reunification, showering harsh words on the South Korean government. Similar denunciations were made in a National Defense Commission statement on Dec. 30, 2011.

On the topic of international relations, there was a conspicuous absence of criticisms of the US or mention of nuclear weapons. The statement did bring up the issue of the withdrawal of US armed forces for the first time in since 2008.

In separate references to China and Russia, which held summit meetings with North Korea last year, the statement indicated Pyongyang's intentions of maintaining and enhancing their traditionally friendly relations.

Dongguk University professor Koh Yu-hwan said, "The absence of references to the US and nuclear weapons comes across as an effort to avoid upsetting the US and leave room for negotiations with Washington in the future."

"As far as the South goes, its attitude comes across as take it or leave it in terms of dialogue," Koh added.

Economic issues were an area of particular focus in the editorial, specifically efforts to increase agricultural production were emphasized. "The resolution of the food issue is a pressing issue in the building of a strong and prosperous nation," it read.

The editorial also called for developments in light industries to improve popular livelihoods and made reference to improvements in basic industries such as power generation, coal, metals, railroads, and chemistry, as well as the technology-intensive knowledge economy and basic technology.

Emphasis was placed on "military first" policy and protection to the death of Kim Jong-un in the area of the military, and the crushing of infiltrations of imperialist thought and culture, eradication of unusual lifestyle trends, and social renewal of Pyongyang .

The Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday that Kim Jong-un had been elected as supreme commander of the military at a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea’s Political Bureau. North Korea stated that the decision was made in accordance with the Oct. 8 instructions of Kim Jong-il, but did not elaborate.

Chinese president Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory cable Saturday which read, "I send my enthusiastic congratulations in connection with [Kim Jong-un's] becoming supreme commander of the Korean People's Army," the KCNA reported.

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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