A fireworks display decorates the night sky to celebrate the New Year, as crowds of people look on, at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thanked the public for their trust and support “in the difficult times” and wished them happiness and good health in his first New Year’s Day cards sent to his people.
Kim usually gives a televised speech on Jan.1, but he is widely expected to skip it this year since he will address the country’s first ruling party congress in five years sometime in early January.
“I will work hard to bring earlier the new era in which the ideals and desires of our people will come true,” Kim said in his letter, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
“I offer thanks to the people for having invariably trusted and supported our party even in the difficult times,” he said. “I sincerely wish all the families across the country greater happiness and beloved people, good health.”
North Korea is one of the world’s most cloistered countries, and it’s virtually impossible to independently confirm whether all its 25 million people received Kim’s cards. The cards reportedly were the first a leader sent to North Koreans since 1995.
Kim, who succeeded his father as North Korean leader in late 2011, is facing the toughest challenges of his nine-year rule due to the pandemic, several natural disasters last summer and persistent US-led sanctions amid a diplomatic impasse over his nuclear program.
Kim will likely use the Workers’ Party congress as a venue to muster a stronger unity and lay out new development goals for the next few years.
North Korea’s pandemic-related border closure with China, its biggest trading partner, is hurting the economy. Bilateral trade volume in the first 11 months of 2020 plunged by about 79% from the same period in 2019, analyst Song Jaeguk at Seoul’s IBK Economic Research Institute said.
The congress, the first since 2006, is officially the party’s top decision-making body though real day-to-day decisions are made by Kim and his close associates. The rubber stamp body of delegates is expected to endorse Kim’s new initiatives without major debates.
State media didn’t say when exactly the meeting will take place. In 2006, the congress was held for four days.
Ushering in the new year, a large crowd packed Pyongyang’s main square to watch fireworks, a concert and a flag-hoisting ceremony. State TV showed people wearing masks and heavy coats, waving and standing close together.
North Korea has steadfastly claimed to be coronavirus-free - an assertion doubted by outsiders. But experts also say any outbreak likely wasn’t widespread and so North Korea considered it safe to hold big events like the party congress in Pyongyang.
Also Friday, North Korea said it has successfully completed “an 80-day battle,” a productivity campaign it often launches to press citizens to work extra hours and report bigger production numbers ahead of major political events. During the congress, experts say North Korea will likely underscore building a stronger self-reliant economy to tackle the difficulties in an attempt to squeeze people to work harder.
KCNA said “the all-people advance by dint of self-reliance” achieved “a proud victory of the historic 80-day battle.” It said the North Koreans have either fulfilled or exceeded newly set quotas at factories, mines, farms, flooding recovery works, anti-coronavirus steps and various other areas.
We all know how much President Donald Trump loves photo ops with strongmen. The latest was his high drama pose with Kim Jong Un, on the north side of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, last week. Announced by tweet, improvised at the last minute, this move was another instance
By firing two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, only days after it launched two other similar missiles, North Korea is clearly testing the patience of the international community. Pyongyang should realise that it is heading in the wrong direction if its intention is to apply pressure tactics on the world community.
Kim Jong Un oversaw a live-fire military exercise on Saturday that potentially included North Korea’s first ballistic missile launch since 2017 — challenging US President Donald Trump’s bottom line in nuclear talks. Kim watched as “large-caliber, long-range multiple-rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons”
Things are evidently not moving in the right direction as far as the denuclearisation talks between the United States and North Korea are concerned. The so-called “excellent relationship” between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has failed to yield the desired results so far.
The Mars Map displays high-resolution images of the Red Planet through the lens of the UAE’s own Hope Probe, and showcases the huge scientific advances made by the UAE.
Rescuers, including the Philippine Coast Guard and fishermen, saved 195 passengers and 35 crew as the blaze ripped through the ferry off Baluk-Baluk Island in Basilan province.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed expressed his thanks to Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad for his congratulations and the sincere fraternal feelings he showed, wishing the brotherly State of Qatar and its people further progress and development.