New Year’s Address Reveals a Nervous Leader

On January 1st, 2015, North Korean leader
Kim Jung Eun delivered his third New Year
s Address. This address was an imitation of his grandfather Kim Il Sungs
propaganda and agitation. It is documented in North Korean records that Kim Il
Sung, skilled at public speaking, enjoyed
from his early 20s. The history of North
s New Years address
began after the New Year
s bell ringing ceremony in
Pyongyang at midnight heading into  January 1st, 1946, when Kim Il Sung
gave his speech,
Cry to the nations people in greeting the new year. After
the late
60s, until which internal political opponents
of the Workers
Party were eliminated, Kim Il Sung
became deified as
and the New Year
s Address quickly rose as a lesson to be strictly followed by all
residents of North Korea.

However, Kim Jong Il was different from his
father, Kim Il Sung. He never personally delivered the New Year
s Address. There were expectations for Kim Jong Il to deliver the
address in place of his deceased father on January 1, 1995,  but instead
he suddenly opted for a military base onsite visit as his first official New
s activity. It was the Dabaksol
guard post
visit that was interpreted by North Koreans
as full-fledged action of Kim Jong Il
s military-first
politics. Rumors say he made excuses saying,
The New
s Address is only possible by the Great Leader
(Kim Il Sung), how could I dare to imitate him.
the Kim Jong Il era, the New Year
s Address was
replaced with a
New Years
Joint Editorial
published by other party, military,
and political publications such as Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean People
s Army, and Minju Joseon. Among North Korean residents, word spread
widely that
our General (Kim Jong Il) does not deliver the New Years Address because he is not as
eloquent as our Suryeong.

Interestingly enough, Kim Jong Eun also
made a different choice than that of his father (Kim Jong Il). In truth, he was
engrossed in
Kim Il Sung costume play ever since his days as successor. He gained weight in order to look
like Kim Il Sung, and took on the hairstyle and clothing that were popular in
Pyongyang several decades ago. After Kim Jong Il died, he personally delivered
the New Year
s Address instead of releasing in the form of the New Years Joint Editorial. North Koreas supreme
leader himself is the most effective method of propaganda and agitation: his
words become the government
s objectives and the places
he visits become managed as
revolutionary historical
. People who have personally met the supreme
leader are referred to as
receivers and their consideration by and advancement in the Workers Party is guaranteed. These factors would lead one to assume that North Korean media outlets
would be very effective tools in fostering Kim Jong Eun’s emulation of Kim Il Sung.

However, Kim Jong Euns New Years Address delivery on KCTV on Janaury 1st was cloaked in failure. It was said that Kim Jong Euns
authority was showing a trend of stabilization after Jang Song Thaek
s execution, but Kim Jong Eun appeared patently uneasy in the footage
released by North Korean media outlets.

Kim Jong Euns New Years Address broadcast on KCTV was irrefutably edited. As the New Years Address must be published by Rodong Sinmun, which promulgates the address to the entire nation by January 1st, it is common knowledge that
the address must be prepared before the year end. It also appears that the
delivery clip was filmed before the arrival of the new year. The clip was 28 minutes 50
seconds long, but an audience or facilitator does not come into view for even the
briefest of moments. Despite the lack of an audience, incorporation of applause was seemingly deemed necessary, and so an applause sound effect was employed at intermittent spots throughout the address–in total, 39 times. Each time the applause is audible, the
screen jumps to a fixed image of the Chosun Workers
Central Committee building. The awkward sound of applause is held for numerous seconds
over a still image–not video. The applause sound effect makes up approximately
a total of 4 minutes and 30 seconds of the footage; therefore, nearly 1/7th of the total New
s Address was taken up by the applause sound
effect and a picture of the 
Chosun Workers’ Party Central Committee building.

Kim Jong Eun stepped onto the podium
holding files that looked like a script, and several times, appeared to be
reading them. While following his gaze, one can assume that there are approximately two
teleprompters located in front of the camera. Kim Jong Eun
s pronunciation is not accurate and he speaks far too quickly. After
the ten minute mark, his voice slowly begins to crack. At times there there is a sense that he is struggling with his breathing– he appears to have
difficulty controlling his breath even while merely reading from the

Moreover, signs of four so-called NGs, video edits
due to mistakes on Kim Jong Eun
s part, are
discernible. The leader’s
 voice can be heard,
 but the visual image is of the 
Chosun Workers’ Party Central Committee building,
not the young leader. The image employed during the applause sound effect
also appears four times while Kim Jong Eun’s speech delivery carries on without any pause.

The footage reveals Kim Jong Eun to be visibly nervous from beginning
to end. He seems unable to be still for even a single moment. The
most embarrassing instant is when he grips the podium with both hands and pushes
out his rear end. The only way to describe this is to say that he
sways. Although the lower half of his body
from his waist down is hidden
the podium, his hands, shoulders, and gaze lean forward then push back– and at
some moments rock from left to right. Whether due to his smoking or obesity,
Kim Jong Eun
s lower half keeps trembling. The camera
that must follow Kim Jong Il
s movements also shakes with him. 

A message is not just contained in the
sounds coming from someone
s mouth. It is said that
even before the
meaning of
those sounds are even interpreted, the eye has already picked up on the
nonverbal messages. UCLA psychology professor Albert Mehrabian said that the
factors affecting the recipient of a message take place in the order of visual
(55%), auditory (38%),  then content (7%). Peter Desbergy. a psychology
professor at California State University, described anxiety during speeches as
stage phobia and defined it as a dread believing that ones speech will be
evaluated negatively.

When referencing theories of relevant
specialists, the Kim Jong Eun in the video clip is still too unseasoned. Asking
to call forth Kim Il Sung
s image based on Kim Jong Euns performance would really be pushing it. 

When read, Kim Jong Euns New Years address is not much different from that of last year. Last years address also laid
out over exaggerations of successes and the same old requests of the party,
military, science, economy, society, and South Korea and international
relations. In truth, this sort of fossilized New Year
Joint Editorial and New Year
s Address is one of the
many representative aspects of old North Korea. Furthermore, when Kim Jong Eun, the main
character of the performance, gives a show as lacking as this one, it is
worrisome that an excessive interpretation of the New Year
s Address could instead ensnare us in a trap
of misjudgment.
Many North Korea specialists have
started to hold suspicions of doubt on questions such as whether
North Korea has the will to maintain the New Years Address and even
if they had the will, whether they have the actually abilities to accomplish
This means North Koreas
New Year
s Address lacks the substantial implications
and logical completeness of the past.

If there are still readers immersed in interpretation of the words and phrases
of North Korea
s New Years
address, I would like to recommend that you first take a look at the video clip
of Kim Jong Eun
s delivery of the speech. The visual
cues given by Kim Jong Eun himself are significant and frequent. Kim Jong Eun personally
displays the heart of a North Korean regime that wishes go back in time to
thirty years ago but cannot do so. 

Particularly, looking at the ending scene when Kim Jong Eun says, I hope that all families in the country find happiness as they greet
the hopeful new year of 2015,
and bows his head, we witness a
particularly unusual moment that would not have taken place in Kim Jong Il
s era.