N.Korean Media Trumpet Economic Feats

North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun daily plastered the first three pages of its Thursday edition with articles advertising the regime's economic achievements and improving living conditions.

The move appears aimed at wrestling the focus away from the bloody purge of eminence grise Jang Song-taek and his cronies and creating a more upbeat soundtrack for the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il.

The Rodong Sinmun on its front page warmed up the hoary Stalinist claim that all the output quotas for this year were "achieved ahead of schedule" at production lines across the country.

The daily, which is a mouthpiece for the Workers Party, said factories in Kangwon and South Pyongan provinces had already met their output goals for this year and are now pushing their limits of production capacities.

It reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally thanked outstanding workers in development and construction projects.

The daily devoted another whole page to articles describing model examples of various regional party chapters contributing to efforts to improve the living conditions of North Koreans.

Since Jang's execution on Dec. 8, North Korea's state-run media had focused on the myriad alleged offenses of the former eminence grise, featuring endless comments from various North Koreans denouncing Jang.

But on Monday the focus shifted to solemnity marking the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il's death. On Thursday, the theme shifted again to economic development.

Cho Bong-hyun of the IBK Economic Research Institute said, "By stressing Kim Jong-un's economic achievements, North Korea is attempting to change the atmosphere and stem public unrest after Jang's ouster."

Meanwhile, sources in North Korea say Pyongyang appears to have issued a gag order on Jang's execution, aimed sparing Kim the fallout from executing his own uncle.

But experts believe things could get tougher for Kim if his economic policies result in failure again.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 20, 2013 12:52 KST