SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Friday commemorated the tenth anniversary of former chief Kim Jong Il’s death with calls for better public loyalty towards his son and present chief Kim Jong Un, who’s struggling to navigate the nation out of deepening pandemic-related hardships.
In his 10 years on the helm of North Korea since his father’s death, Kim Jong Un, 37, has secured the identical absolute energy loved by Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the present chief’s grandfather and state founder. Despite large financial shocks attributable to draconian anti-virus measures and long-dormant diplomacy with the United States, North Korea exhibits no indicators of political instability and few exterior specialists query Kim’s grip on energy.
But the long-term stability of Kim Jong Un’s rule may nonetheless be questioned if he fails to work out steps to handle the continued difficulties and enhance public livelihoods, some observers say.
On each earlier death anniversary, Kim Jong Un paid respects at a mausoleum the place the embalmed physique of Kim Jong Il lies in state together with that of Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un additionally convened nationwide conferences honoring his father throughout some earlier milestone anniversaries corresponding to the primary and fifth ones.
He was anticipated to do the identical this yr however North Korea’s state media didn’t instantly report on any public actions by Kim Jong Un on Friday morning. State-run newspapers revealed articles venerating Kim Jong Il and calling for better unity behind Kim Jong Un, whereas state TV aired propaganda songs and documentary movies on the late chief.
“Great leader and comrade Kim Jong Il is always with us … and he is the eternal ‘suryong’ and sun of ‘juche (self-reliance)’ of our party and revolution,” the North’s predominant Rodong Sinmun newspaper stated in an editorial, referring to a revered title reserved for North Korean leaders.
Without mentioning the present difficulties, the paper stated that “We should make our every effort to bolster our single-minded unity … by standing united behind respected comrade Kim Jong Un.”
On Thursday, ordinary citizens offered flowers and paid homage before giant bronze statues of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung at Pyongyang’s Mansu Hill.
This year’s death anniversary comes as Kim Jong Un grapples with the toughest moment of his rule because of the coronavirus pandemic, persistent U.N. sanctions and mismanagement.
North Korea’s trade with China, its biggest trading partner and an economic pipeline, shrank by about 80% last year before it plunged again by two-thirds in the first nine months of this year. Last year, the North’s economy suffered its biggest contraction since 1997 while its grain production also dropped to its lowest level since Kim took office, according to South Korean government estimates.
Kim refuses to return to talks with Washington and Seoul as he calls for building a stronger, self-reliant economy and retains tough virus restrictions including two years of border shutdowns. Analysts say Kim fears that his country’s broken public health care infrastructure could not afford a major virus outbreak though he maintains a questionable claim that North Korea is coronavirus-free.
“Unless North Korea accepts offers for denuclearization talks with the U.S., it cannot stay away from powerful international sanctions. Without international cooperation, North Korea must continue to seal off its borders due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. And this is a North Korean dilemma,” analyst Cheong Seong-Chang on the personal Sejong Institute in South Korea stated in a latest evaluation piece.
The North’s advancing nuclear arsenal is the core of Kim’s rule, and he’s known as it “a powerful treasured sword” that ensures peace within the face of U.S. navy threats.
During his 10-year rule, North Korea has carried out 62 rounds of ballistic missile exams, that are banned by a number of U.N. Security Council resolutions, in keeping with Seoul’s Unification Ministry. The quantity is in comparison with an estimated 9 rounds of exams throughout Kim Il Sung’s 46-year rule and 22 rounds throughout Kim Jong Il’s 17-year rule. Four of the North’s six nuclear exams and its three intercontinental ballistic missile launches all occurred underneath Kim Jong Un’s rule.
Kim’s torrid run of weapons exams in 2016-17 invited harder U.N. sanctions and led him to change threats of destruction and crude insults with then-President Donald Trump. The two sat down for three rounds of landmark summit talks on Kim’s nuclear weapons in 2018-19, however their diplomacy ultimately collapsed as a result of wrangling over the sanctions. Kim has since threatened to enlarge his nuclear arsenal and construct extra subtle weapons methods.
“North Korea marked the 10-year memorial of Kim Jong Il with public ceremonies and state propaganda. More significant will be Kim Jong Un’s attempt, after a decade in power, to map out a credible path for post-pandemic diplomacy and economic recovery,” stated Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.