New Year Priorities Shift in Editorial

Changchun, China — “Bring about a decisive change in the people’s lives by accelerating once again light industry and agriculture this year, as we look to the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Party!”

An inside source reported on the 31st of December that the key planks of North Korea’s New Year’s statement will be to encourage noticeable improvements in light industrial and agricultural production in order to eliminate shortages of food, clothing, and shelter for the North Korean people.

North Korea issues a New Year’s statement every year. It is also known as the “common editorial” because it appears simultaneously on January 1st in the three major state newspapers; “Rodong Shinmun,” the publication of the Workers’ Party, “Chosun People’s Army,” of the People’s Army, and “Youths’ Advance Guard,” of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League.

Speaking with the Daily NK, the source reported, “The aim this New Year is to improve the people’s lives, and the New Year’s common editorial also focuses on peoples’ basic problems,” before adding, “There is no special comment on the succession issue.”

He explained further, “Last year, heavy industries such as electricity, coal or steel were the priorities, but this year they are placing the priority on food and daily necessities.”

The source explained, however, that the emphasis should not be afforded undue attention, pointing out, “The comments about light industry mean innovation to bring about increased production of necessities, but do you think it is possible in this situation of ours? Therefore, you can just take it that mentions of light industry in the New Year’s editorial mean that the authorities plan to take more interest in this field. That’s it.”

He emphasized, “Our economy is now in the situation of being unable to escape from paralysis without a blood transfusion from the outside. For now, the authorities are anticipating great Chinese material aid.”

Therefore, he alleged, the authorities are now trying to incite an increase in light industrial production because there has been something like a promise from a foreign country to give a substantial amount of aid. He implied the existence of a secret contract with China.

Finally, one thing that the source was not surprised by was the absence of talk of reform and opening. He pointed out, “It will never happen… It is beyond our thinking. Now that the authorities are restoring the socialist economic management system following the redenomination, any words of reform are even more unthinkable.”