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vonRonda Hauben 29.01.2019

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Kim Jong Un’s 2019 New Year’s Speech provides a valuable resource through which to understand the events of the past year and what we can expect in the coming year.(1)

Kim opened his speech referring to “The year 2018” as “a historic year, in which remarkable changes took place in internal and external situations.”

“Last year,” he recalled referring to the history of the division of Korea “was a stirring year which witnessed a dramatic change unprecedented in the history of national division spanning over 70 years.”

Explaining what made the year so remarkable, he writes:

“With a determination to usher in an era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity by putting an end to the abnormal state on the Korean Peninsula which had suffered a constant war crisis, we took proactive and bold measures to effect a great turn in north-south relations from the outset of last year.”

He points to “eye-opening achievements which were unimaginable in the past,” and were made in a “short time.”

The events of last year, he proposes were “unprecedented events,” which can be expanded by “thoroughly implementing the historic north-south declarations.”

“It is our steadfast will to eradicate military hostility between north and south and make the Korean Peninsula a durable and lasting peace zone.”

Among the means to accomplish this goal, he maintains is “to actively promote multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatures to the armistice agreement so as to lay a lasting and substantial peace-keeping foundation.”

In particular, Kim Jong Un points to the “historic, first-ever DPRK-US summit meeting and talks” that he believes “brought a dramatic turn in the bilateral relationship” between the US and the DPRK, a relationship that he characterizes as “the most hostile on the earth.” The summit meeting and talks “made a great contribution to ensuring peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the region,” Kim notes.

Based on that achievement, he proposes “to establish a new bilateral relationship that meets the demand of the new era as clarified in the June 12 DPRK-US Joint Statement” to “build a lasting and durable peace regime and advance towards complete denuclearization.”

Referring to the “reality of north-south relations that made rapid progress last year”, Kim explains that he “wants to believe that our relations with the United States will bear good fruit this year, as inter-Korean relations have greeted a great turn, by the efforts of the two sides.”

He points to the “meeting and holding talks beneficial to both sides with the US president in June last year,” where “we exchanged constructive views and reached a consensus of understanding for a shortcut to removing each other’s apprehensions and resolving the entangled problems.”

Kim Jong Un emphasizes, “I am ready to meet the US president again anytime, and will make efforts to obtain without fail results which can be welcomed by the international community.”

He provides, however, one important qualification to his offer. Kim noted,

“But if the United States does not keep the promise it made in the eyes of the world, and out of miscalculation of our people’s patience, it attempts to unilaterally enforce something upon us and persists in imposing sanctions and pressure against our Republic, we may be compelled to find a new way for defending the sovereignty of the country and the supreme interests of the state and for achieving peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.”

One analyst points to this statement as being probably deliberately vague, but yet offering the US a precaution in how it acts with respect to the attitude the “dialogue partners” bring to the negotiations. (2) As Kim argues earlier in his New Year’s address, “nothing is impossible to a willing heart, and dialogue partners will reach the destinations that are beneficial to each other without fail if they put forward fair proposals on the principle of recognizing and respecting each other by abandoning their dogged insistence broadmindedly and conduct negotiations with a proper stand and the will to settle issues.”

Kim Jong Un demonstrates that he doesn’t underestimate the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead. But by recognizing the important progress made in 2018, it becomes clear that further progress has a strong foundation to build on, and thus can be an achievable goal.

Notes
(1)http://www.zoominkorea.org/dprk-chairman-kim-jong-uns-2019-new-year-address/
DPRK Leader Kim Jong-Un’s 2019 New Year Address, January 3, 2019
ZoominKorea website

(2) https://www.38north.org/2019/01/rcarlin010319/
Hints for 2019: Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Address, January 3, 2019
38 North website

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