The “Ten-Year National Economic Development Plan” North Korea released news of over the weekend looks less like an economic development plan and more like an effort to avoid responsibility for the failure to complete the construction of the strong and prosperous state by 2012.
Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on the 15th, “A decision of the Cabinet regarding the ‘Ten-Year National Economic Development Plan’ was adopted and the National Economic Development General Bureau established,” and continued, “The newly built National Economic Development General Bureau is to be the administrative apparatus in charge of implementing strategic tasks for national economic development.”
Even though the KCNA report included several goals to be achieved through the General Bureau, in conclusion it also revealed another purpose, “In 2012 the foundations for entry through the gates of the strong and prosperous state will have been set, and the firm prospect of proudly reaching the stage of advanced countries can be spread.”
The claim that North Korea has been emphasizing in recent years is that the strong and prosperous state would be launched, complete, in 2012, but now the slogan has been watered down into mere preparation, while another ten years has been added in which to aim for the original goal.
Despite the apparent reality, KCNA also asserted, “Due to Comrade Kim Jong Il’s excellent and sophisticated Military-first leadership, miracles and renovations have been created every day at the construction site of socialist economic construction, with a firm jumping-off point prepared in order to construct the socialist strong and prosperous state.”
Going through the great famine of the late 1990s, the authorities called for the people to stand the pain, claiming for the first time that they would be able to construct a strong and prosperous state with their ideology, independent economy and guns. However, while ideology and guns may have been developed according to the plan, the economy was a lost cause.
Thus, now that the accomplishment of the strong and prosperous state by 2012 has become demonstrably impossible, they are trying belatedly to switch up the national slogan so as to avoid responsibility.
Additionally, this new economic plan seems to represent another step in North Korea’s attempt to present a sense that it is returning to orthodoxy in advance of the Kim Jong Eun succession.
North Korea has not had a national economic plan at all since 1993, and it has been more than 20 years since the third seven-year economic plan was issued in 1987. The authorities appear to want to launch the Kim Jong Eun succession from stable foundations, and hope that economic planning can help to convince a skeptical public.