January 17, 2011 10:13
North Korea is apparently backtracking over implausible plans to become a "powerful and prosperous nation" by 2012 and is now eyeing the year 2020 as the finishing line to join the world's advanced countries.
This suggests the regime has realized that no great leap forward is likely by next year and it has quietly moved the goalposts.
The North's official Korea Central News Agency on Saturday said the regime adopted a "10-year national economic development plan." "It helps lay the foundation for the country to emerge as a thriving nation in 2012 and opens bright prospect for it to proudly rank among advanced countries in 2020," it said.
Prof. Yoo Ho-yul of Korea University said since November 2007, the North has been using the slogan a "powerful and prosperous nation" by 2012, the centennial of Kim Il-sung's birth. But the phrase "'the foundations for the country to emerge as a thriving nation' implies that it has scaled back its goals."
"The North has furtively started using the new expression 'among the advanced countries in 2020,' because it knows that it can't become 'powerful and prosperous' by 2012," a Unification Ministry official said. "It's playing with words because it can't afford to abandon the slogan all of a sudden."
KCNA said the Cabinet entrusted Chosun Taepung International Investment Group with full powers to implement key strategic plans for economic development.
Taepung was established in December 2009 to woo foreign investment and is headed by a Korean-Chinese businessman, Pak Chol-su. But since its noisy launch the corporation has reportedly attracted zero investment so far due to sanctions imposed by the international community.
The regime has used the slogan "a powerful and prosperous nation" since 1998, when leader Kim Jong-il officially took power. It set the deadline of 2012 at a national congress on Nov. 30, 2007.
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