News / Asia

    Kim Jong Un Focuses on Economy, Not Nukes, in New Year's Speech

    South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.
    South Koreans watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's New Year speech, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.
    VOA News

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his New Year's Day address Friday to focus primarily on the importance of economic development, avoiding any explicit threats or references to his country's nuclear weapons program.

    Kim, who sported new plastic-framed glasses and his signature shaved-sides haircut, spoke of the need to "create a turnaround in economic development" and raise living standards in the impoverished country.

    The young leader offered few specifics in his 30-minute speech, his fourth since taking over leadership of the country following the unexpected death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011. Instead, he largely repeated the same themes found in previous addresses.

    "We will continue to actively try to improve the North Korea-South Korea relations and will discuss issues regarding the (Korean) people and unification in an open-minded manner with anyone who sincerely wishes for the (Korean) people's reconciliation, unity, peace and unification," he said.

    Kim also warned that his country was open to war if provoked by "invasive" outsiders.

    He also spoke positively of the high-level talks agreed to this year with South Korea, which have offered the prospect of improved inter-Korean relations but so far delivered little in the way of concrete results.

    The annual speech is always watched closely for hints of possible policy changes, but this year's address was particularly significant, because it comes just ahead of a crucial meeting of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party.

    The party gathering, to be held in May, is the first time the Workers' Party has held a congress since 1980.

     

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    January 01, 2016 3:33 AM
    Kim and Trump have a lot in common, atrocious haircuts notwithstanding. Both need to enroll in the Dale Carnegie course. They don't know how to make nice and play well with others. Lets hope both keel over and drown in their own vomit in 2016. Happy New Year everyone.
    In Response

    by: meanbill from: USA
    January 01, 2016 7:47 AM
    No matter what anybody say's, Kim Jong Un is a Korean patriot and only wants to improve the North Korean economy and improve the lives of North Koreans, and to someday reunite with the South, [but], the sanctions and embargos that the UN has imposed on North Korea (because they won't give up their defensive nuclear weapons) has greatly constricted the North Korean economy and left them impoverished, [and remember], the North Koreans are the same people as the South Koreans and they will someday excel like they're brothers and sisters are doing? .. IF the Kim Jong Un vision of Korea is ever realized?

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