North Korea’s Kim wants better living standards

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 1:10 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 1:11 a.m.
In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks on podium in Pyongyang, North Korea. Making his first New Year's speech, Kim called Tuesday for his country to focus on economic improvements with the same urgency that scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
In this Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks on podium in Pyongyang, North Korea. Making his first New Year's speech, Kim called Tuesday for his country to focus on economic improvements with the same urgency that scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday called for improving the economy and living standards of his impoverished nation with the same urgency that scientists showed in successfully testing a long-range rocket recently.

Kim’s first New Year’s speech, delivered on state TV, was peppered with rhetoric, with calls for boosting the military’s capabilities and making the science and technology sector world class. But other passages in the speech were also an acknowledgement of the poor state of the country’s economy that has long lagged behind the rest of the region.


North Korea has little arable land, is prone to natural disasters and struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.

Science and technology

The annual New Year’s Day message lays out North Korea’s policy goals for the year. But Kim gave no indication whether he plans to introduce economic reforms or allow free enterprise, except to say the economy should be underpinned by science and technology.

“The industrial revolution in the new century is, in essence, a scientific and technological revolution, and breaking through the cutting edge is a shortcut to the building of an economic giant,” he said.

He then pointed at the success of a long-range rocket that North Korea fired on Dec. 12, ostensibly carrying a satellite into space.

“Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space,” he said.

North Korea has hailed the rocket as a big step in peaceful space exploration. Washington and others called the launch a banned test of ballistic missile technology and a step in Pyongyang’s pursuit of a nuclear tipped long-range missile.

North Korea has tested two atomic devices since 2006, both times weeks after U.N. condemnation of a long-range launch. A recent analysis of North Korea’s main nuclear test site indicates readiness for a possible third atomic explosion.

Boosting defense

Kim made no mention of nuclear weapons, but indicated that military will continue to be boosted.

“The sector of defense industry should develop in larger numbers sophisticated military hardware of our own style that can contribute to implementing the Party’s military strategy,” he said.

“Only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country and defend the security and happiness of its people,” Kim said.

The speech itself was a signal that Kim will continue with a leadership style more in line with his gregarious grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung who routinely addressed his people on New Year’s Day, than with his father, Kim Jong Il, who avoided making public speeches. He never gave a TV address during his 17-year-rule, and his New Year’s messages were published as joint editorials in the nation’s three major newspapers.

With the speech — the first televised New Year’s Day message by a North Korean leader in 19 years — Kim Jong Un has tried to tap into North Koreans’ fond memories of his grandfather, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in South Korea.

Notice about comments:

Salisburypost.com is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse. Salisburypost.com cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not Salisburypost.com. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please click "report abuse" and we will review it for possible removal. Please be reminded, however, that in accordance with our Terms of Use and federal law, we are under no obligation to remove any third party comments posted on our website. Full terms and conditions can be read here.

Do not post the following:

  • Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
  • Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
  • Personal attacks, insults or threats.
  • The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
  • Comments unrelated to the story.