Kim says he wants to boost economic development and improve people’s lives while celebrating the 10th anniversary of his leadership.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended his 10th year in power with a speech that made more mention of tractor factories and school uniforms than nuclear weapons or the United States, according to summaries by state media on Saturday.
North Korea’s main goals for 2022 will be to get economic development going and improve people’s lives, as it faces a “big life-and-death battle”, Kim said in a speech on Friday said at the end of the 4th plenary session of the 8th Central. Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), which began on Monday.
The meetings coincided with the 10th anniversary of Kim who effectively took over the leadership of the country after the death of his father in 2011.
Kim has used previous speeches around the New Year to make major policy announcements, including the beginning of significant diplomatic relations with South Korea and the US.
But summaries of his speech published in North Korean state media made no specific mention of the US, with only a casual reference to unspecified discussions of inter-Korean relations and “foreign affairs”.
The speech’s domestic focus underscored the economic crises facing Kim at home, where self-imposed anti-pandemic border closures have left North Korea more isolated than ever before.
“The basic tasks facing the part and the people next year are to provide a solid guarantee for the implementation of the five-year plan and to make remarkable changes in national development and the lives of the people,” Kim said. quoted.
Kim devoted most of his speech to domestic issues, from an ambitious rural development plan to people’s diet, school uniforms and the need to curb “non-socialist practices”.
He cited unspecified military progress as a significant achievement of the past year and discussed “militant tasks” facing national defense in 2022. The tractor factory he discussed in the speech will likely also be used to launch missile vehicles to build, foreign analysts said, and North Korea has reportedly expanded its arsenal despite the restrictions.
The huge focus on rural development is probably a populist strategy, says Chad O’Carroll, founder of NK News, a Seoul-based website that monitors North Korea.
“Overall, Kim may be aware that revealing sophisticated military development plans while people are suffering from food shortages and difficult conditions outside Pyongyang may not be such a good idea this year,” he wrote on Twitter.