□ Kim Jong Un has delivered his "New Year’s Speech" on television for four consecutive years since 2013. (The speech was delivered at the office building of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea at 12:30 p.m.-12:59 p.m. and televised via the Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang Broadcasting Station, and Korean Central Television.)
o It was unusual that the speech was delivered at noon (12:30 PM Korea Standard Time, 12:00 PM Pyongyang Time), not in the morning.
* New Year’s speeches were delivered at 09:36-10:05 AM in 2015, 08:59-09:26 AM in 2014, and 09:05-09:30 AM in 2013.
□ The structure and contents were similar to those of previous years.
o The speech mentioned the achievements by sector in 2015 and presented the policy directions for 2016.
- Unlike in 2015, the speech presented the results and tasks in the economic sector before the political and ideological sectors, and encouraged the creation of results regarding the 7th Congress of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK).
□ Assessment of the Year 2015
o The speech focused on demonstrating the achievements by sector in 2015, the year that marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK.
- The speech assessed the year 2015 as follows: “The year 2015 was a year of tremendous struggle, which was adorned with meaningful events and eye-opening successes, a year of victory and glory, in which socialist Korea fully demonstrated its prestige and might.”
o It stated the following major achievements: 1) Building many structures including the Mt. Baekdu Hero Youth Power Station, 2) Developing the overall economy and improving the people’s standard of living, 3) Warding off the danger of war through the great army-people unity, 4) Demonstrating the might of the youth power, and 5) Demonstrating far and wide the might of the single-hearted unity of all the service personnel and people through the events held to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK.
□ Significance and the Slogan of Struggle for 2016
o The speech defined the year 2016 as “a significant year when the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea is to be held.”
o It presented the slogan of struggle for 2016 – “Let us usher in a golden age in building a thriving nation in this year when the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea is to be held!”
* The slogan of struggle in Kim Il Sung’s New Year’s speech in 1980 when the 6th Congress of the WPK was held was “Let us greet the 6th Congress of the WPK with high political enthusiasm and unprecedented labor achievements.”
The Slogans of Struggle Since Kim Jong Un Took Office
◈ The slogan for 2015: "Let us all turn out in the general offensive to hasten the final victory in the revolutionary spirit of Mt. Baekdu!"
◈ The slogan for 2014: "Let us raise a fierce wind of making a fresh leap forward on all fronts of building a thriving country filled with confidence in victory!"
◈ The slogan for 2013: “Let us open up an epoch-making phase in building an economically powerful state with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space.”
◈ The slogan for 2012: “Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding, true to the instructions of the great General Kim Jong-il!”
□ Tasks by Each Sector for 2016
① Politics and Military
o The speech stressed ideological education and the solidarity of the people.
- 1) Cement the politico-ideological position of socialism rock-solid, 2) Harden the single-hearted unity around the Party, 3) Apply the politics of prioritizing people, and 4) Emphasize the role of the youth.
o The speech stressed the Party’s unified command system.
- 1) Elite soldiers for modern warfare and stout fighters should be nurtured through training, 2) The service personnel should be fully prepared for actual battle, 3) The army should devote itself to building a thriving socialist country, and 4) A greater number of various means for military strike should be developed.
- Just as in 2015, the speech emphasized the Party’s control on the army and the defense of provinces, counties, and villages.
* “The People’s Army should more actively seek more tasks that are for the good of the people in building a thriving country.”
② Economy and Society
o The speech called for a fresh turn in developing the country’s economy and improving the people’s standard of living.
- 1) Focus on the leading sectors such as the electric-power, coal-mining, and metallurgical industries and the rail transport sector, 2) Increase production in the agricultural, animal husbandry, and fisheries sectors, 3) Modernize factories and enterprises and increase the domestic production in the light industry, and produce commodities with a competitive edge, 4) Provide educational and cultural institutions and dwelling houses in the construction sector, 5) Restore the forests of the country in full swing, and 6) Promote the development and diffusion of science and technology
o The speech emphasized the full-scale establishment of the “our style of economic management method” without mentioning external economic relations.
- It urged the Cabinet and other state and economic organizations to fully equip themselves with Party policy and work out plans for the economic tasks in an innovative way, especially when the conditions are not favorable and many difficulties arise.
o The speech presented the task of building an economic giant in the lead-up to the 7th Congress of the WPK.
- It stressed that 1) Agricultural workers should strive to bring about a turn in agricultural production, 2) Intellectuals should promote the building of a thriving country by means of brilliant scientific and technological successes as required by the era of the knowledge-based economy, and 3) Young people should train themselves further to become heroes on all the sites where a thriving nation is being built.
- It called for building a thriving socialist country with the might of collectivism and the principle of giving priority to self-development.
o In the social sector, the speech presented the goal of building a country in which the people enjoy the highest quality of civilization on the highest level.
- It asked for 1) Renovating the conditions and environment for education, 2) Improving medical treatment and preventive services, 3) Making sports mass-based and a part of daily living, and creating new miracles of heroic Korea in international games, 4) Producing a larger number of contemporary masterpieces in the sector of art and literature, and 5) Ensuring a sound and civilized way of life to establish discipline with regard to moral ethics.
③ Relations with South Korea
o The speech presented the slogan for 2016 – “Let us frustrate the challenges by the anti-reunification forces within and without and usher in a new era of independent reunification!”
* The slogan of struggle for 2015: “Let the whole nation join efforts to open up a broad avenue to independent reunification in this year of the 70th anniversary of national liberation!”
- While stating that “national reunification is the most pressing and vital task facing the nation,” the speech stressed that the issues of national reunification should be resolved by “the efforts of our nation in conformity with its independent will, true to the principle of ‘By Our Nation Itself.’”
o While denouncing the South Korean government for “deepening distrust and confrontation” between the North and the South, the speech called on the South to stop 1) Collusion with outside forces, 2) The ROK-U.S. joint military drills, and 3) The confrontation of systems.
- At the same time, while mentioning “the agreement signed last year at the inter-Korean high-level emergency contact,” the speech urged the South to desist from any act that will mar the atmosphere of dialogue.
o Meanwhile, regarding improving inter-Korean relations, the speech reiterated the North’s existing position, such as “We will make strenuous efforts to develop inter-Korean talks and improve bilateral relations” and “We will also have an open-minded discussion on the reunification issues with anyone who is truly desirous of national reunification.”
- Other than that, the speech did not touch much upon inter-Korean “exchanges and cooperation.”
④ Foreign Relations
o The speech criticized the United States for 1) Ignoring North Korea’s demand for replacing the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty, 2) Clinging to its “anachronistic hostile policy towards the DPRK,” and 3) Staging a “human rights” racket against Pyongyang.
- Yet, there was no separate mention of the “Byungjin line” and the “reinforcement of its nuclear deterrent.”
o The speech also reiterated North Korea’s will to further strengthen and develop relations of friendship with all the countries that are friendly to the North.
3. Features and Assessment
① The speech presented tasks by each sector “at the level of previous years” without stating any new policy line and vision for 2016, a year when the Congress of the WPK is scheduled to be held for the first time in 36 years.
o It reiterated the existing policies such as 1) (Economy) Building an economic giant, 2) (Politics) Establishing a politically and ideologically powerful state, 3) (Society) Building a country in which the people enjoy the highest quality of civilization on the highest level, 4) (Relations with South Korea) Desisting from the confrontation of systems, and 5) (Foreign Relations) Signing a peace treaty with the United States.
o While highlighting the significance of the 7th Congress of the WPK this year, the speech argued that the Congress will “unfold an ambitious blueprint.”
② While stressing the role of the youth, the speech held fast to the position that the North will strengthen social control.
o Given that the speech atypically emphasized “the role of the youth” in the lead-up to the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Youth League on January 17, the North is expected to use the youth as the vanguard forces on the occasion of the Congress of the WPK in May.
＊ The speech also stressed the role of the youth regarding the achievements of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK in 2015.
o Just as in 2015, the speech emphasized an intensive struggle among officials against all practices of “abuse of power, bureaucratism, and corruption.”
- As North Korea will hold the Congress of the WPK this year after celebrating the “70th anniversary of the founding of the WPK” last year, it is expected to strengthen the Party’s control on all fields of social life and political and ideological education.
③ The speech particularly highlighted “the building of an economic giant” among the tasks by each sector.
o Unlike in 2015, the speech presented tasks in the economic sector before the political and military sectors.
- In particular, while stressing that the resolution of the electricity problem should be the top priority, the speech instructed the modernization of the coal-mining and metallurgical industries and the rail transport sector.
＊ “The problem of electricity should be resolved as an undertaking involving the whole Party and the whole state.”
- The speech presented the tasks at the level of previous years in 1) The agricultural, animal husbandry, and fisheries sectors, 2) The light industry sector, 3) The construction sector, 4) The restoration of forests, and 5) The field of science and technology in order to improve the people’s standard of living.
- While presenting the principle of giving priority to self-development, the speech stressed the building of a thriving socialist nation by “our own efforts, technology, and resources.”
o Although mentioning the “full-scale establishment of the ‘our style of economic management method,’” the speech did not discuss any specific method.
- Unlike in 2015, the speech did not mention external economic relations such as the “economic development zones.”
④ In the field of relations with South Korea, while calling on the South Korean government to change the policy of “confrontation of systems,” the speech expressed its theoretical will for dialogue without making any specific proposal.
o While stressing “a new era of independent reunification,” the speech made it clear that the North will respect the August 25 Agreement, arguing that the North “will have an open-minded discussion on the reunification issues with anyone who is truly desirous of national reunification.”
⑤ In the arena of foreign relations, the speech stated a peace treaty with the United States without mentioning the reinforcement of the North’s nuclear deterrent and the Byungjin line.
o Although the speech urged the United States to give up its hostile policy against the DPRK and stop staging the “human rights” racket against the North just as in previous years, it refrained from using such expressions as the reinforcement of the North’s nuclear deterrent as it did in 2015.