Yang Causes Reformist Stir in Seoul

North Korea has caused a stir in South Korea this morning after a senior Politburo and Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) official noted in an Associated Press (AP) interview that Kim Jong Eun was examining the possibility of economic reform.

Yang Hyong Sop, the 86-year old vice-chairman of the SPA is reported to have told an AP reporter in Pyongyang on the 16th, “Chosun Workers’ Party Central Military Committee Vice-Chairman Kim Jong Eun is focusing on creating a knowledge-based economy, and is studying cases of economic reform in other countries, including China.”

This, South Korean daily Donga Ilbo pointed out in a front page report, is the first time a high-ranking North Korean official has officially mentioned the idea of economic reform in an interview with a foreign media organization.

However, AP itself did not lend much weight to the comments, noting instead that Yang’s words “indicated there would be little change to major policies laid out by Kim Jong Eun’s father in the three years before his death.”

Indeed, emphasizing the view that it is mostly a case of business as usual, Yang stressed continuity, explaining, “We suffered the greatest loss in the history of our nation as a result of the sudden, unexpected and tragic loss of the great leader Kim Jong Il,” before adding, “We are not worried a bit because we know that we are being led by comrade Kim Jong Eun, who is fully prepared to carry on the heritage created by the great Gen. Kim Jong Il.”

In line with the policy of pointing out that Kim Jong Eun has been leading North Korea in many areas for some time, something emphasized in a documentary, ‘Successor to the Mt. Baekdu Military-first Revolution’, shown on Chosun Central TV on Kim’s birthday, January 8th, and in North Korea’s most consistently voiced slogan of 2012 to date, “Accept the last instructions of comrade Kim Jong Il,” Yang added, “Respected comrade Kim Jong Eun had long assisted the great General Kim Jong Il. It’s not a secret that he has helped the great general in many different aspects; not only in military affairs but also the economy and other areas as well.”

As had been expected, Chosun Workers’ Party publication Rodong Shinmun did not report the story in its Wednesday edition.