Back at the end of 1994, the matter of how and by whom the New Year’s Statement would be issued was a big talking point.
This was because watching Kim Il Sung deliver the New Year’s Statement on Chosun Central TV had long been a national institution. On the morning of the first day of the year, people dressed up and came before the TV to watch and listen carefully to their leader.
People took note of Kim Il Sung’s apparent health condition as they watched. In hard times, some shed a tear as they noted, “The Suryeong looks so old this year. How much trouble he has had.” Conversely, when he looked quite good, people were reassured.
Of course, after Kim died suddenly in mid 1994, the people naturally expected Kim Jong Il to deliver the statement, and were curious to hear how he would do so.
However, the successor's inarticulate and fast talking style had already been noted by officials; some of them called him a stutterer behind his back.
Even among those who had not heard Kim speak, the rumor was that he “talks too fast to be understood,” that there are “more than a few cadres who got into trouble because they couldn’t understand what he said,” that you must be “as tense and ready as you can,” and even, “When a cadre asked him to repeat himself, Kim looked at him horribly and the other day the cadre disappeared.”
Therefore, on the morning of the first day of 1995, the New Year’s Statement was not delivered by Kim Jong Il as the people had anticipated, but was instead issued commonly across the Party, Chosun People’s Army and Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League publications in the form of an editorial.
On that morning, Kim Jong Il himself conducted an onsite inspection of “Dabaksol guard post” in Kangwon Province instead. This was reported later as being an indication that he intended to look after the front first and foremost, because that was a time of serious national security concerns.
For its part, the Party kept silent, simply declaring, “As long as we bear the slogan, ‘respected comrade Kim Il Sung is with us forever,’ don’t expect the ways that the Suryeong (Kim Il Sung) used to use.”
Nevertheless, later in the same year the people did finally hear Kim speak, at a military parade for the 50th founding day of the Workers’ Party on October 10. However, it was a disaster. At the opening ceremony of the parade, Kim Jong Il proclaimed in a high pitched stammer, “Glory to the heroic officers and soldiers of the Chosun People's Army.” Yet this was aired on Chosun Central TV, making Kim look ridiculous and awkward. It remains the only known recording of his voice, and even though the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Central Committee of the Party claimed, “The voice of the General was like thunder,” nobody agreed.
This year marks the 17th year of the common editorial version of the New Year's Statement. People say that since the common editorial system was launched, the contents have become shallow and confidence in it has withered. It is now just empty slogans and rhetoric without any practical application, so people no longer care. They just memorize it in units, without any interest in the existence of the leader at all.