Kim Jong Un’s traditional New Year speech summing up the experience of the previous year and setting out tasks for the year to come was made this year at the fifth plenary meeting of the seventh central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) held from 28-31 December 2019.
Extracts from his address are summarised below.
Praise for the people’s achievements
Comrade Kim Jong Un said that the challenges facing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in recent months have been so harsh and dangerous that others would not withstand them for a single day. However, no difficulties can stop or delay the undaunted advance of our people as a solid integral whole, he said, and we have achieved great successes in bolstering up the strength of the state and increasing its defence capabilities.
The colossal and complicated work of developing a state-of-the-art weapons system, such as is possessed by the advanced countries, has required us to find innovative scientific and technological solutions without anyone’s help, and all these research tasks have been carried out by our own scientists, designers and munitions industry workers.
This has brought a great victory – possession of a promising strategic weapons system – which is a significant development of the armed forces of the republic, defending and guaranteeing our sovereignty and right to existence.
In the future, he said, the more the US stalls for time and hesitates in the settlement of DPRK-US relations, the more helpless it will find itself before the growing might of the DPRK, whose strength is exceeding all predictions, and the deeper it will fall into an impasse.
Economy continues to grow
This year, said Comrade Kim Jong Un, we reaped a bumper harvest that exceeded the last peak-year level, despite the many restrictions imposed by heinous imperialist sanctions and the problems of ongoing unfavourable weather.
As planned by the party, we implemented the second-stage project for sprucing up the city of Samjiyon, building it into a model mountainous cultured town – an ideal local town archetype – in the centre of our revolutionary tradition, and also completed the construction of the Jungphyong vegetable greenhouse farm and tree nursery and the Yangdok hot spring resort, presenting the fruits of advanced civilisation to our people.
Construction of the Wonsan Kalma coast resort, Sunchon phosphatic fertiliser factory, Orangchon power station, Tanchon power station, and other projects that are simultaneously under construction in several parts of the country, is being pushed ahead with meticulous planning, and almost all the sectors of the national economy, including metal, coalmining, building materials and light industry, are showing a trend of remarkable growth, he said.
He particularly praised Kangwon province for having led the whole country in an emulation drive of self-reliance, creating one model experience after another in carrying out party policy. He noted that North Phyongan and other provinces are competing to achieve strong results in developing agriculture, stockbreeding, education, public health and local industry,
The need to stand firm in the face of US imperialist bullying
Analysing the prevailing situation, Comrade Kim Jong Un said that the real intention of the US is to pursue its own political and diplomatic interests while wasting time under the pretence of ‘dialogue’ and ‘negotiations’, all the while keeping up the pressure of sanctions in the hope of gradually reducing the DPRK’s strength.
He stressed that the government had further hardened its determination never to barter the security and dignity of its state or the safety of the people’s future.
Noting that the stalemate between the DPRK and the US cannot but assume a protracted nature, since the US is raising demands contrary to the fundamental interests of the DPRK and maintaining a brigandish attitude, he said that recently the US has issued empty statements about the resumption of dialogue while really aiming to pass the year-end time-limit set by the DPRK for progress in the talks.
The US now finds itself in a tight corner, he said, since it has become clear that it never intended to change its hostile policy toward the DPRK, to improve relations or to resolve outstanding problems. The US has openly revealed its provocative political, military and economic double-dealing, aimed at stifling and crushing the north Korean republic.
He promised that the DPRK will never allow the impudent US to abuse DPRK-US talks in this dishonest way, but will instead start to take real action to make the US pay for the pain inflicted on the DPRK’s people by sanctions and by the restraint of their development.
It is true, he said, that we urgently need an external environment favourable for economic construction, but we can never sell our dignity, which we have always defended with our lives.
The DPRK-US stand-off, which has continued from one century to the next, has now boiled down to a clear stand-off between self-reliance and sanctions.
If there were no nuclear issue, the US would find fault with something else, he said, to justify its military and political threats.
The present situation warns the DPRK that a protracted confrontation with the US is likely, said Comrade Kim Jong Un, and urgently requires that the people of the DPRK should be able to live under hostile sanctions for some time to come, making it even more necessary to build up our internal strength on all fronts.
Stressing that fierce confrontation with the enemy is always accompanied by the work of strengthening our own forces, and that only when priority is given to self-strengthening can we take the initiative and achieve victory, he indicated that there were still problems that needed to be addressed in the areas of state management and economic work, among others.
He pointed out that although the DPRK’s people strive for self-reliance and self-sufficiency, their implementation of this work is not yet freed from the habits of the past: bold innovation would be needed to overcome stagnation.
A great victory is accompanied by trials and struggle, he said. The victory of the revolution is inevitable, but cannot be achieved without difficulties and hardships.
We should launch an offensive aimed at making a breakthrough that will neutralise the effect of the sanctions head-on, defeating the pressure of hostile forces and opening a new avenue for socialist construction, said Comrade Kim Jong Un. This offensive is a task of the times, which must be carried out without fail – the immediate conditions and our longer-term revolutionary aims demand it.
If we fail to put spurs to the struggle for bolstering our strength for self-development, waiting instead for the day when sanctions are lifted, the enemies’ reactionary offensive will grow fiercer and they will dare to check our advance, he said.
He went on to call urgently for massive efforts in improving productivity.
“Let us break through head-on all the barriers to our advance!” – this is the fighting slogan that the entire party and all the people must uphold today, said Kim Jong Un.
Citing detailed instances, he also pointed out the bad practices of those in the economic sector who shout the slogan of self-reliance but fail to meaningfully direct their efforts at maintaining and reinforcing the self-supporting foundations of the national economy. He emphasised at length how essential it was that all such weaknesses should be addressed and overcome.
What needs to be done
Comrade Kim Jong Un stressed the importance of improving the DPRK’s science, education and public health.
The inexhaustible strategic assets on which we should rely today, he said, are science and technology, adding that these should be a beacon of light that illuminates the path ahead, taking the lead in development at a time when economic work is faced with many difficulties.
He underscored the need for party organisations to imbue scientists and technicians with the consciousness that all fronts of socialist construction will emerge victorious only when they make a breakthrough on the scientific front, and that the people’s goal of building a powerful country would be achieved only by painstaking efforts and devotion to scaling the high peak of cutting-edge science.
Just as science can be seen as an engine leading economic development, he said, education is the mother of science, and he outlined a plan for the fundamental and radical improvement of the country’s education.
The tasks included: steadily improving the structures and teaching programmes of all universities; making the contents of education practical, comprehensive and up-to-date; bringing education closer to scientific research and to production; updating educational conditions and environment.
He also emphasised the need to produce more talented personnel and more scientific and technological breakthroughs by: narrowing educational differences between central and local areas; building up numbers of quality teachers; substantially improving the content and environment of education, etc.
The current offensive for making a breakthrough head-on, he said, is a gigantic, patriotic struggle, to be waged with the enthusiasm and creative efforts of millions of working people. He stressed that if all sectors and citizens make a great effort to increase production and practise economy so as to create more of their own things, the DPRK’s economy will remain unperturbed and people’s living standards will rise, even despite the hostile sanctions regime.
He noted that the models to be followed in the present era are the patriotic working people, who regard the spirit of economy as intrinsic to their being, and the country’s labour-, energy-, cost- and land-saving enterprises.
He emphasised the importance of a vigorous campaign to promote economy in the use of electricity, proposing an emulation drive to further increase production and practise economy, and at the same time of ensuring that all sectors improve quality by giving priority to quality over quantity.
He further emphasised the need to take decisive measures to protect the ecological environment, and to establish a well-organised nationwide crisis management system to cope with natural disasters.
Korea’s response to the external threat to its existence
Comrade Kim Jong Un said that the US has applied the most brutal and inhuman sanctions against the DPRK and posed a persistent nuclear threat to the country over the past 70 years, labelling it as an ‘enemy’, part of the ‘axis of evil’ and a ‘target of pre-emptive nuclear strike’. He pointed out that the situation on the Korean peninsula has reached a more dangerous and serious phase owing to the US’s continued policy of hostility to the DPRK.
In the last two years alone, when the DPRK took crucial measures first to stop its nuclear and ICBM testing and then to shut down its nuclear testing ground in order to build confidence with the US, the latter, far from responding with appropriate measures, threatened us militarily by conducting dozens of big and small joint military drills, although its president had personally promised these would stop, and by shipping the latest war equipment into south Korea.
The US has also enforced over a dozen new sanctions, he said, proving once again to the world that it remains unchanged in its desperate ambition to stifle the DPRK’s socialist system.
Under such circumstances, he said, the DPRK has found no grounds to be unilaterally bound any longer by a one-sided commitment. This has put a damper both on the country’s efforts for disarmament and on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons across the world.
The prevailing situation proves that the road of defending ourselves by building up our strength enough to keep the hostile forces at bay so that they would not dare to threaten our sovereignty and security is the only path we can follow, he said.
Strength in unity
Victory or defeat at today’s crossroads of the destiny of socialism is decided only by the strength of unity and the guiding role of our party, said Comrade Kim Jong Un.
Our party will exercise its correct leadership ability and will never waver in the face of the challenges.
It will stand firm and continue to deal heavy blows to the US and other hostile forces.
And it will always share weal and woe with the people.