Kim Jong-un calls for ‘end to confrontation’ with South Korea


The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for an end to the "confrontation" with rival South Korea on Tuesday in what appeared to be an overture to the incoming South Korean president as she was cobbling together South Korea's new policy on the North.

North Korea on Tuesday issued a major policy statement on New Year's Day, following a tradition set by Kim's late grandfather, the North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, and his late father, Kim Jong-il, who died in December last year.

Kim was the first supreme North Korean leader to issue the statement as his personal speech since his grandfather last did so before his death in 1994. During the rule of his reclusive father, Kim Jong-il, the statement — which laid out policy guidelines for the new year and was studied by all branches of the party, state and military — was issued as a joint editorial of the country's main official media.

Kim's speech on Tuesday, broadcast through the state-run television and radio stations, was another sign that the young leader was trying to imitate his grandfather Kim Il-sung, who in life was considered a more people-friendly leader and is still widely revered among North Koreans.

Although Kim inherited the key policies of his father, outside analysts see him as trying to distance himself from the ruling style of his father, Kim Jong-il, who was more feared than respected among his people and whose rule was marked by a famine.

In his speech, Kim, echoed themes of previous New Year's messages, emphasizing that improving the living standards of North Koreans and rejuvenating the agricultural and light industries were among the impoverished country's main priorities.

Since July, various news outlets in South Korea have reported that Kim's new regime has begun carrying out cautious economic incentives aimed at boosting productivity at farms and factories. Some reports said the state was considering letting farmers keep at least 30 percent of their yield; currently, it is believed, they are allowed to sell only a surplus beyond a government-set quota that is rarely met.

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