Not as if it’s a great disappointment this morning, but can someone please tell the Korean Communications Standards Commission, that I can read about the Great Successor’s New Year’s speech from any western news outlet. I couldn’t access Tim Shorrock’s link to a website (?) offering the full text of Kim Jong-un’s address calling for an end to the Korean between North Korea and the Republic of Korea (Via ROK Drop).
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for an end to confrontation between the two Koreas, technically still at war in the absence of a peace treaty to end their 1950-53 conflict, in a surprise New Year’s broadcast on state media.
The address by Kim, who took power in the reclusive state after his father, Kim Jong-il, died in 2011, appeared to take the place of the policy-setting New Year’s editorial published annually in the past in leading state newspapers.
“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,” Kim said in an address that appeared to be pre-recorded.
“Past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war,” he said, speaking from an undisclosed location.
The New Year’s address was the first in 19 years by a North Korean leader, following the death of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather. Kim Jong-il rarely spoke in public and disclosed his national policy agenda in editorials in state newspapers.
There, I quoted this subversive address! Just ask the members of the KCSC itself how this is not even the most ridiculous example of the KCSC’s megalomania.
And, furthermore, aside from renewing a precedent left in abeyance for 19 years, Kim Jong-un’s address was hardly path-breaking.
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.
How is it a website can quote the ROK Ministry of Unification about the speech and a foreign news outlet quoting the speech, but I can’t read the address? Here’s some more quotes from the forbidden speech. The irony is, that the KCSC keeps me from offering a truly independent opinion on this bit of North Korean boilerplate, but readers outside of South Korea can write their own opinions which I could then read. South Koreans should be the ones to dismiss this address, not foreigners. Ironically, those who need to be at the forefront of this issue, both to decide issues like defense spending and unification and to inform others in the world about Korean attitudes about North Korea, are left out of a debate in which non-Koreans will decide for Koreans.