N.Korea Sends No New Year's Greeting to S.Korea, U.S.

  • By Lee Yong-soo

    January 03, 2022 14:27

    North Korea sent no New Year's greetings to either South Korea or the U.S. on Jan. 1. It is unusual for leader Kim Jong-un to skip such a message, however perfunctory.

    This suggests that the regime has put external affairs on the back burner due to the growing need to concentrate its capabilities and resources on overcoming economic difficulties caused by prolonged international sanctions and a total border lockdown.

    Kim started sulking when U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of a summit in Hanoi in February 2019, and his New Year's message the following year was replaced by a report on a Central Committee plenary meeting in 2020 and last year. This year too the official Rodong Sinmun just carried a report on the year-end gathering.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks at a year-end plenary session from Dec. 27 to 31, Pyongyang, in this grab from [North] Korean Central Television on Jan. 1.

    A single sentence referring to South Korea or the U.S. took up a mere 0.4 percent of the 18,400-odd-word report. "The increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean Peninsula and international politics have instigated calls to vigorously push forward with our national defense build-up plans without any delay," it reads.

    "They apparently wanted to have enough leeway in foreign policy in the future by avoiding any specific policies now amid a high possibility of political changes ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics in February and the presidential election in South Korea in March," the Institute for National Security Strategy here speculated.

    The Central Committee session lasted five days from Dec. 27 to 31, with a record 1,000 participants. Kim only went to the first two sessions.

    Agriculture was heavily highlighted and mentioned a 143 times.

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