North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made a rare televised New Year's speech, the first such broadcast for nineteen years.
The Daily Telegraph reports that 29 year-old Kim Jong-un, who came to power on the death of his father Kim Jong-il in December 2011, delivered his speech at a large wooden lectern adorned with what appeared to be purple Kimilsungia flowers, a type of orchid named after his his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea.
The speech was clear about the country’s commitment to military strength, but also emphasized the need for economic development and the reunification of the two Koreas.
“An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south. The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war,” Mr Kim said in his speech.
The BBC’s Lucy Williamson notes the comparative lack of open hostility in the speech, and the importance placed on developing the North Korean economy. This may be an acknowledgement of necessity. The country has become increasingly isolated in recent years, an isolation intensified by recent rocket launches, and is heavily reliant on China for its economic survival.
The speech comes days after South Korea elected its first female president, Park Geun-hye. Time magazine reports she pledged to rebuild ties with Pyongyang during her campaign.