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North Korea: Kim Jong-un focuses on domestic issues in new year's remarks
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un focused on domestic issues in his speech commemorating the new year. In remarks that also commemorate his 10th year in power, Kim announced the nation’s main goals for 2022, focusing on its own economic development and improving the lives of its residents.
According to summaries of Kim’s speech from state media, Kim zeroed in on North Korea’s domestic issues in his new year’s remarks over the weekend. The speech marks the end of the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Worker’s Party of Korea that started Monday last week. The new year’s remarks are also a change in focus as Kim usually makes policy announcements that include updates on North Korea’s diplomatic engagements with South Korea and the US.
“The main task facing our Party and people next year is to provide a sure guarantee for the implementation of the five-year plan and bring about a remarkable change in the state development and the people’s standard of living,” said Kim according to state media.
According to South Korea-based North Korea outlet NK News’ Chad O’Carroll, the North Korean leader’s focus on domestic development appears to be a populist strategy. O’Carroll explained that the North Korean leader may be aware that focusing on military developments and foreign policy rather than the looming humanitarian and economic issues the nation is facing may not be a good look.
Kim’s speech made no mention of engagement with the US nor its calls for denuclearization talks. The speech also did not mention South Korea’s push to formally end the Korean War as a way to restart negotiations.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pledged to use his final months in office to make a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea before his term ends in May.
“I will not stop efforts to institutionalize sustainable peace,” said Moon during his final new year’s address. “The government will pursue normalization of inter-Korean relations and an irreversible path to peace until the end. I hope efforts for dialogue will continue in the next administration too.”
While North Korea has yet to respond publicly to Moon’s latest push for peace, Moon acknowledged that there is still a long way to go, but said that if the two Koreas improved relations with each other, the international community will follow.