January 1 and 2 are national holidays in North Korea, and residents spend January 1 paying respects to statues of the Kim clan while performing ancestral rites on January 2. This year, however, the government allowed the population to rest for four days while instructing them to become well-acquainted with Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Address, a North Korean source reported on January 2.
The regime also ensured the provision of electricity to ensure everyone could view the New Year’s Address on television.
“The New Year’s Address was held in a different way from last year on TV so I was unsure of what to expect,” said a North Pyongan Province-based source. “I was particularly interested in what the leader had to say about improvement in the people’s lives, but was disappointed because he didn’t say anything special, other than just repeating an emphasis on self-reliance.”
“I had some free time due to the four-day vacation. After paying my respects to the Kim statues on January 1, I performed ancestral rites at home,” said the source. “Everyone had to watch the New Year’s Address, regardless of their age, but nobody thought it was anything special.”
“The leader emphasized the spirit of self-reliance and continuing battle in the economic sector, but I felt few expectations for the coming year judging from past experience,” he added.
A former military officer who recently left the military added that, “I heard slogans calling for self-reliance all the time from when I started in the military, but what use is self-reliance in an empty lot [difficult economy]?”
There were, however, some positive expectations among the population regarding improvements in inter-Korean relations. “The leader is pushing forward new policies proactively, but I think they’re not working out so well because of the sanctions,” said a source in Ryanggang Province.
When asked by Daily NK about heightened expectations surrounding another inter-Korean or US-DPRK summit, she said, “Summits were held not so long ago but I’ve gotten nothing, not even a kilo of rice. There must be some benefit to me before I feel like things are going to happen.”
She also noted that North Koreans are studying the New Year’s Address.
Those ranked cell secretary and above must reinforce the content of the New Year’s Address to those below them, so they showed a lot of interest, while ordinary people showed only enough interest to know the outlines of what was said.
While the authorities have designated three days vacation for ordinary people, the third day required workers and organization members to go to work, study the New Year’s Address together, and talk about resolutions for the new year.
“Prosecutors’ offices, police stations and Ministry of State Security offices ordered things like pork, cookies and rice cakes by phone and ate them with side dishes,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said..
Party officials receive non-glutinous rice, flour and oil from the Cadre Provision Office (No. 65 Provision Office), along with bribes that include boxes of fruit, high-quality liquor, beer, cigarettes, rice cakes, Korean sausages and meat.