Mass Rallies No Substitute for Reform

Following the Common Editorial issued across the three major publications of state on the first day of this year, citizens’ rallies have been held in factories, city and provincial centers to reaffirm the desire to improve light industrial production and the people’s lives through domestic endeavor.

In Pyongyang yesterday, 100,000 workers attended the final such rally in Kim Il Sung Square. According to Chosun Central Broadcast, the state-run radio station, they too vowed to implement the contents of the New Year’s Common Editorial.

The final rally is customarily held in Pyongyang a few days after New Year’s Day, once rallies in industrial complexes have been held alongside provincial rallies and their declarations passed up to the capital.

Speaking at the rally, the Pyongyang Party Chief Secretary Mun Kyung Deok asserted, “Light industry represents the major front line of this year’s entire attack,” and proclaimed, “Production should be normalized to a high level through the modernization of provincial factories and utilization of all leftover materials,” pointing to the August 3rd people’s consumer goods production reforms, which were also mentioned in the editorial.

A resolution was adopted at the rally, reconfirming the Common Editorial, “We will forge a decisive change in improving the people’s lives by putting the priority on light industry,” and “We will increase production of daily necessities in every unit so that more and better consumer goods and food can be given to the citizens of the capital.”

According to the North Korean media, another big rally to confirm workers’ determination to independently rehabilitate the economy was held a day earlier at Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex in Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province, the biggest steel mill in the country.

The front page of the January 3rd Rodong Shinmun, which almost always deals with Kim Jong Il-related reports, was wallpapered with the Kim Chaek Complex rally, while other media also released agreement with the request of the Common Editorial for independent rehabilitation and expansion of production from all areas of society.

Reviewing the backdrop to the public rallies, a researcher with the Sejong Institute, Oh Gyeung Seob said in a column for The Daily NK, “No practical proposal able to solve economic problems was contained in the Common Editorial this year. The North Korean regime is persisting with socialist strategies of economic development such as independent rehabilitation and reform of economic management based on ‘our way of socialism’.”

“As long as the North Korean regime refuses to reform the structural limits of the socialist planned economy, there is no other way to achieve economic development,” Oh added.