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Kim Jong Un sends brief handwritten letter to people

Posted January. 02, 2021 08:03,   

Updated January. 02, 2021 09:45


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a brief six-paragraph handwritten letter (picture) to its people on Friday instead of his usual New Year’s Day speech on television, for the first time he took power in 2011. Experts say it is a demonstration that the North Korean regime does not have tangible results to show this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and economic difficulties. Chairman Kim is expected to send a detailed message about its nuclear program to South Korea and the U.S. at the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea set to be convened around Jan. 4.

In a letter published on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Jan. 1, Chairman Kim thanked its people for their constant support for the party amid difficult times and underlined his determination to work hard to sooner bring the new era, in which the ideals and aspirations of its people will blossom. In the six-paragraph letter, Kim mentioned the “people” four times, for example, “the wellbeing of his beloved people” and “loyal heart serving the great people,” focusing on appeasing the complaints of the North Korean people facing difficulties coming from COVID-19, sanctions against North Korea, and economic hardships.

In an announcement made after a meeting of top Workers’ Party officials instead of a New Year’s speech last year, the North Korean leader threatened more provocation by mentioning a “new strategic weapon.” But this time, he did not send any message to South Korea or the U.S. in the letter.

Chairman Kim gave a televised New Year speech for seven years from 2011 to 2013. It has been 26 years since 1995 under the Kim Jong I’ll era that a North Korean leader sent a letter on New Year’s Day. “A key message from Chairman Kim this year will be announced at the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea,” said an official from the South Korean Ministry of Unification, adding the handwritten letter can also be considered a New Year’s address since it is an official greeting from Kim. The North Korean leader paid tribute to his late father and grandfather at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Jan. 1, accompanied by party officials who will attend the Party Congress. Kim was seen not wearing a face mask.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is tightening surveillance over North Korea as their Party Congress is imminent. According to multiple military aircraft tracking sites, the U.S. Air Force’s E-8C Joint Stars were spotted in skies above Incheon and the Yellow Sea from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1.

Oh-Hyuk Kwon hyuk@donga.com