Hints are emerging from the black box that is the North Korean regime that leader Kim Jong-un aims for some economic liberalization, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday.
According to a record of Kim's statements dated Jan. 28 and obtained by the Japanese daily from a North Korean Workers Party official, Kim said, "When it comes to the economy, officials and economists are reluctant to voice their opinions because they are often met with bias and criticism that they are trying to introduce capitalist methods when they suggest some economic measures."
The paper said the statement suggests he is aware that experts are afraid to speak out and is willing to permit more discussion of economic reforms. The party official quoted Kim as calling the introduction of "excellent" measures that can be adopted, "whether they are from China, Russia or Japan."
Kim added, "Factories and companies are not operating sufficiently, and this leads to shortage of necessities for the people, causing inconveniences for them in daily life." By guaranteeing better material supplies and a cultural life, Kim said the state would enable people to extol the Workers Party honestly.
The daily speculated that Kim is anxious about the country's economic crisis and therefore likely to carry out radical economic reform in the near future. Kim went to school abroad and is keen on international standards, it added. When he visited a military base recently, Kim ordered a basketball backboard, which was painted black, to be repainted in white, which is the usual color everywhere else.