05/09/2016, 18.10
NORTH KOREA
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Kim Jong-un to focus on nukes, burying his father’s legacy and any hope for peace

The Workers' Party of Korea is holding its first congress in 36 years. Dressed in tie and suit to honour his grandfather Kim Il-sung, the country’s young dictator rejects international demands, and asserts that North Korea is a responsible nuclear power. He also reasserts the regime’s principles of Juche and Songun, adding byungjin or dual-track approach to nuclear development.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Kim Jong-un is using the first congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in 36 years to bury his father Kim Jong-il’s legacy, whilst reviving that of his grandfather Kim Il-sung. He is also using it as a platform to warn the international community about the country’s nuclear capabilities.

Wearing a suit and a tie like his ancestor, not the Mao shirts his father liked to wear, Kim laid out his new policy orientation, suggesting that the purges of the political and military leadership were over.

Kim spoke to some 3,000 delegates, formally elected but in fact handpicked, in the 25 April House of Culture in Pyongyang for some three and half hours. His recorded speech was broadcast on North Korean television.

The dictator read his text, South Korea’s conservative daily Chosun Ilbo, wrote, and took breaks, which state TV did not show, “because he lacks the sheer verbal stamina of fellow dictator Fidel Castro, who would bore audiences to sleep with speeches lasting up to six or eight hours. [. . .] Towards the end he showed visible signs of fatigue.”

“Our republic will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces with nukes,” the Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying.

However, “There is no way the international community will accept North Korea (as a nuclear state) talking about its responsibility as a nuclear state or global denuclearization. It must present a resolution for denuclearization and dispel its illusions about nuclear weapons,” said Jeong Joon-hee, spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry.  

Still the long speech had two important items. Kim emphasized his so-called byungjin policy, a dual-track emphasis on both economic improvement and nuclear weapon development. He also announced the completion of the renewal process in the party and the Armed Forces, signalling an end to purges.

His “dual-track” policy would safeguard the nation’s interests, and provide a guarantee against “imperialists and the US”. It “is not a temporary policy track but a strategic one that should be sustained eternally for the sake of the revolution with nuclear deterrent as the bedrock of our military defence,” Kim said.

This means continuity with his father’s songun or military-first doctrine, it a “fundamental principle of socialism” that would “bolster revolution with the armed forces at the centre of the drive.”

North Korea will also continue to be based on the principles of Juche, i.e. "self-reliance", as the official political ideology laid out by Kim Il-sung when he founded the regime with the support the Soviet Union and China.

In his speech, the grandson made it clear that North Korea does not need favours from other nations, be they big or small. What he wants is to see the climate of confrontation caused by North Korea’s enemies eliminated, a reference to South Korea, which Kim blames for the deterioration of inter-Korean relations.

Nevertheless, "North Korea's confirmation that it will pursue nuclear arms” will “prevent the country from removing current difficulties and even deepen its isolation," said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.

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