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North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un wrapped up 2021 with comments indicating he would be increasingly focused on matters internal to the hermit kingdom as it appears the self-imposed pandemic policies have ravaged the nation economically.
In stark contrast with previous speeches, the so-called Supreme Leader made zero references to President Joe Biden and largely ignored South Korea in the speech that marked the end of a five-day plenary session, while vowing to pursue high-tech weapons to counter what he called military instability on the Korean Peninsula, Fox News reported.
Instead, the 37-year-old dictator focused on solving the food problem that has plagued the nation for decades. The same issues that the United States Department of Agriculture projected last July would be nearly impossible to improve over the next ten years with 63.1 percent, or 16.3 million people, described in the report as “food insecure.”
The inward turn is bad news for diplomats seeking to engage the nation on nuclear talks, particularly as Mr. Kim dictated that “bolstering the state defense capability to be further powerfully propelled without a moment’s delay,” according to The New York Times.
“His extremely cursory mention of inter-Korean relations and foreign policy indicates that North Korea was not ready to come out for contacts with South Korea or the United States in the new year,” explained Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at a private think tank near Seoul, the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute.
“Faced with the pandemic, North Korea is expected to continue to keep its borders shut, focusing on self-reliance and conducting only the minimum of essential trade with China,” Cheong said.
Mr. Kim’s remarks provoked some advice on how he might solve his food crisis, although it’s doubtful the communist dictator will take it.
Kim could go a long way in solving the decades long food crisis in N. Korea by shifting what is expended on his nuclear weapons program and utilizing to help feed the people.
— DemocracyWW (@democracy_ww) January 1, 2022
The meeting marked the 10-year anniversary of Kim taking the reins in leading the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) after his father Kim Jong-il’s death.
Although the video of the address does not include an English translation, note the eerie and robotic cheering and clapping from the audience as the crowd welcomed Mr. Kim to the room.
(Video Credit: Reuters)
“The massive focus on agricultural issues is unprecedented in the new year addresses and January political readouts of the Kim Jong Un era,” said Chad O’Carroll, CEO of the Korea Risk Group, reported The Washington Post. He explained that the Biden snub and distance from diplomatic talks would be low on the totem pole of priority because the Asian nation is “basically in survival mode for the year ahead.”
“Pyongyang was focused internally on solving its economic problems with little focus on the outside world,” said Korean and Japanese affairs expert Bruce Klingner with the conservative Heritage Foundation. “While the lack of bombastic threats is welcome, there was little in this year’s message to suggest a resumption of dialogue or negotiations.”
Past addresses, which have typically been given a day later on Jan 1, have been used to address diplomatic matters such was the case in 2019 when Kim used the platform to mention the possibility of meeting again with then-President Donald Trump.
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