o Ushering in the New Year, North Korea, through its media outlets on January 1, exhorted the population to make the year a "radiant, proud one by launching a revolutionary offensive on all fronts for the construction of a strong and prosperous nation under the leadership of the Party." The call was the title of its annual joint editorial carried by the Rodong Sinmun, (the North) Korean People's Army and the Youth Vanguard.
- The joint editorial defined the New Year as a turning point for the construction of strong and prosperous nation, setting forth strengthened fronts on political ideology, anti-imperialistic military affairs, and economy and science as the country's core tasks.
o Chairman Kim Jong-il visited military unit 2106 on December 27 and attempted to inculcate morale for the military and allegiance to him by voicing his interest in improved barrack life. Two days later, he conducted an on-site guidance at Gyenam Stock Farm in South Hwanghae Province, giving a directive on management and operations of pastures and tasks for the province to raise agricultural productivity.
o On the occasion of the 31st anniversary of Constitution Day (December 27), North Korea stressed the need for a tightened, socialist law and orderly life to stem the disruptive external ideological tide and internal disorders, while highlighting the alleged superiority of "socialism of our style." The admonition, carried by the Rodong Sinmun, was apparently intended to guard against a possible relaxation of social and economic norms caused by the adoption of the July 1, 2002, Economic Management Improvement Measures.
o North Korea plans to increase the number of general markets in Pyongyang by four to 42 in an effort to complement and streamline the commerce-distribution sector in the capital, according to the daily Joseon Sinbo December 24. The paper also reported on January 2 that North Korea was making special efforts to improve economic management in the agricultural sector by trying to enforce "adequate prices" in the transactions of farming water, fertilizer and farming equipment.
o Entering the New Year, North Korea unveiled a changed look of Pyongyang by adorning major streets with a variety of ornaments and showing restaurants serving clients with special services befitting the holiday season.
Relations with South Korea
o North Korea reiterated what it called "the Supreme Principle of Our People," based on mutual assistance between the peoples of North and South Korea. It advocated a unity of the Korean people free from external interference in a New Year joint editorial.
- The editorial also came up with a slogan of "Let us open a path of independent unification based on mutual assistance between the peoples of North and South Korea under the supreme principle of one nation."
o In connection with the approval by the South Korean cabinet on December 23 of a bill for additional dispatch of troops to Iraq, North Korea's Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Fatherland denounced the step December 27 as "an ugly pro-American submissive act harming the dignity and interest of the Korean people and a frontal challenge to and desecration of the entire people's consistent emotion opposed to the troop dispatch."
o North Korea's Central Broadcasting Station on December 29 reported a U.S. decision December 24 to provide food to North Korea, saying the food being provided was the remainder of the 100,000 tons of grain the United States promised to provide in 2003 in compliance with the appeal of the World Food Programme.
o The spokesman of North Korea's foreign ministry said in an interview with the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) December 24 that although the United States would mention dialogue with Pyongyang, it had not changed its policy to isolate and strangulate North Korea at all. North Korea was commenting on the U.S. State Department's annual report on international religious freedom issued on December 18 and a U.S. congressional report on drug smuggling issued the following day.
o North Korea's Rodong Sinmun on December 26 denounced Japan for actively promoting the establishment of a war system and an overseas advance by its self-defense forces under the pretext of nuclear and missile threats.
o In an interview with the KCNA, the spokesman of the North Korean foreign ministry said December 27 that North Korea and China recognized their important roles in the next round of six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear issue and were willing to resolve the matter peacefully. The statement was made in connection with China's vice foreign minister Wang Yi's visit to North Korea.