Building on the successful first launch of a space satellite in December, a confident Kim Jong Un delivered a New Year’s address on Jan. 1 that laid out the tasks for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fulfill in 2013.
The youthful leader of the DPRK focused on several goals: develop the planned economy to strengthen basic industry, light industry and agriculture while improving the people’s standard of living; strengthen the armed forces and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards to be ready to repel any aggression against north Korea; raise education, public health and culture to the highest levels; and continue the struggle to reunify Korea, which has been divided ever since the end of World War II in 1945.
As first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, Kim Jong Un speaks for the party, the government and the army on these questions. The Korean people pay very close attention to the New Year’s message, which is not just a wish list but a guide for the party, government officials and the workers in general over the coming year.
The DPRK has stood up to egregious attacks from Western imperialism ever since its founding in 1948. It repelled a massive U.S. invasion lasting from 1950 to 1953, in which the Pentagon tried to obliterate the new socialist state in the north of Korea. But the DPRK, which was born out of the anti-colonial struggle of the Korean people against Japan’s brutal occupation, survived the massive assault and emerged as the first country in the world to successfully push back U.S. imperialism.
The DPRK has a planned socialist economy, which means that its factories, farms, banks and stores do not decide what to do based on pursuing profits for private owners, but instead are integrated into a national plan for economic development, based on meeting the needs of the country and its people by utilizing all available resources and human power.
A far northern and mountainous country with limited agricultural land, the DPRK has felt the onerous effects of climate change. It has suffered what Kim called “severe natural calamities [that] hit the country in succession last year.” Yet it has now shown that it can put a satellite in orbit using its own technology, only the tenth country to do so.
‘Toward independence & justice’
Great enthusiasm greeted this scientific breakthrough throughout the Korean peninsula. It has generated optimism that all things are possible for the Korean people.
As Kim pointed out in his statement, “The industrial revolution in the new century is, in essence, a scientific and technological revolution, and breaking through the cutting edge is a shortcut to the building of an economic giant. Like the satellite scientists who conquered outer space, we should wage a dynamic campaign to push back the frontiers … so as to develop the country’s overall science and technology to the world standards as soon as possible.”
The DPRK already has a strong basis on which to make this leap. Its literacy rate is 99 percent — one of the highest in the world. The state requires and provides free education through 12th grade, including meals for students. Higher education is also free, and there are many colleges and universities, as well as adult education programs for people who work.
All this has been achieved despite the unremitting hostility of imperialism, especially the U.S. and Japan. Washington tries to strangle the DPRK’s economy with sanctions and blockade, while forcing the government to devote much of its resources to defense from the nuclear-armed U.S. troops, ships and planes that encircle it.
Nevertheless, Korea’s leaders and people remain strong and united. Kim Jong Un summed it up this way:
“In the present international arena, the moves of the imperialists to intervene in the internal affairs of other sovereign states and their acts of military aggression pose a serious threat to peace and security of humankind. The Asia-Pacific region, the Korean Peninsula in particular, has become the hottest spot in the world in which constant tension persists.
“The aspirations and desire of humanity to lead an independent life free from all sorts of domination and subjugation is growing stronger, and no force can stem the trend of history toward independence and justice.”