| In an annual New Year`s message delivered live Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said, "We need to create an atmosphere for improvement of relations between the North with South." This language is an obvious improvement from previous belligerent statements like, "war breaks out without any prior notice." It is welcome that the North Korean leader has decided to turn confrontation into conversation.
Kim said the execution of Jang Song Thaek was a "resolute" action to "eliminate factionalist filth" within the ruling Workers` Party. In his second year in office, Kim may be trying to take soft line on the South in order to ease disorderly internal situation. Yet he maintained a stereotype rhetoric of blaming South Korea for the inter-Korean tension. In his speech, Kim said "slandering that does more harm than good should be stopped" and "hampering reconciliation and unity should end," which are tactics the North had constantly pursued against the South. He demanded the South to stop interfering with pro-North forces, targeting Lee Seok-ki who was charged of conspiracy of rebellion. However, Kim has no to right to intervene in this case if it has no relations with the North.
Kim Jong Un delivered the New Year`s message for the second year, his latest effort to emulate his grandfather and the late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. He issued read the message ranging to more than 10,000 letters, but failed to make people believe that he wants peace between the South and the North. North Korea should change to improve inter-Korean relations.
Kim also argued that the U.S. and South Korea created a dangerous situation of a possible nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, but this is a typical cop-out. Such remarks are an excuse to display strong self-defense power to keep national independence and dignity. He didn`t directly mention the word "nuclear," but maintained over-stretched logic that nuclear weapons are for self-protection. In just more than a month after Kim issued a New Year`s message last year, North Korea promoted its third nuclear test, bringing misfortune upon itself of being internationally alienated. North Korea should clearly announce its determination to give up nuclear program if it really wants improvement in inter-Korean relations and peace.
In his speech, Kim Jong Un elaborated on the need to strengthen coal, electricity and agriculture industries, a strategy different from what the late former leader Kim Jong Il promoted. He also stressed that saving leads to production and is the manifestation of patriotism, but further belt-tightening while people are in hunger cannot be the solution.