NK calls for powerful economy on founding anniversary

By Jung Min-kyung
  • Published : Sept 10, 2018 - 17:19
  • Updated : Sept 10, 2018 - 18:22

In line with the 70th anniversary of its founding, Sunday, the North Korean regime highlighted the need to achieve economic prosperity in the spirit of “self-reliance,” the country’s state media reported Monday.

The North’s media reports covering the anniversary came a day later, citing the “low-key,” “ICBM-free” military parade that took place Sunday. In past years, Korean Central Television had aired most of the parades live.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the regime called for independent efforts to achieve economic growth at Sunday’s national meeting held at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended the meeting alongside foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches a military parade on Sunday held in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the regime`s founding. (Yonhap)

This was Kim’s first time in attendance at the national meetings, which have taken place on significant anniversaries since he came to power in late 2011.

In a separate report by the Korean Central Broadcasting Station, the North’s nominal head of state, Kim Yong-nam, stressed the need to build a powerful economy and improve the people’s lives with a revolutionary spirit of self-reliance and an increase in production, at the meeting.

Kim said North Korea had emerged as a fully independent and sovereign state in the international arena after battling powerful imperialist enemies, without directly mentioning the US.

The state media did not say whether Kim Jong-un had made a speech at the national meeting or at the military parade.

While the shift in focus reflects the North Korean leader’s vows earlier this year to turn his attention to developing his country’s poverty-stricken economy from nuclear advancement, analysts say the North is being cautious not to ruffle the US’ feathers.

The recent stalemate in nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang has presented obstacles to inter-Korean economic projects such as the modernization of cross-border railways. Layers of international sanctions aimed at crippling the North’s economic growth remain intact, and progress in negotiations with Washington would enable Pyongyang to achieve its objective of having sanctions lifted.

In a series of tweets Sunday, US President Donald Trump welcomed North Korea’s toned-down military parade, which lacked its “customary display of nuclear missiles.”

“This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea. Thank you to Chairman Kim. ... There is nothing like good dialogue from two people that like each other!” he wrote, referring to a report by Fox News citing experts who said the low-key parade showed Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization.

“A military parade is staged when it wants to flaunt what it has achieved (regarding advances in military might), but they said they would relinquish it, so there is no reason to blow this out of proportion,” said Kim Joon-hyung, an international studies professor at Handong Global University.

“Plus, there is an improvement in US-North Korea ties compared to last year.”

Concerning the absence of a speech from Kim Jong-un, the expert said the North Korean leader has likely refrained from speaking on the possibility that his words could be “misinterpreted” by the international community and that it could rub the hawkish officials in Washington the wrong way.

The defense and unification ministries interpreted Pyongyang’s decision to tone down the parade as a message of willingness to cooperate on the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

Ahead of the anniversary, experts had predicted the North would have “relatively little” to celebrate this year, with the lack of incentives from its negotiations on denuclearization with the US. A widely shared view is that North Korea wants rewards for each “phased step” toward denuclearization, despite US claims that complete denuclearization must come first.

In his New Year’s message in January, Kim pledged to celebrate the country’s 70th anniversary with the “utmost grandness.”