Night Watch

North Korea: Comment. On 1 January Kim Jong Un delivered his second annual New Year's address. As usual it was a paean to North Korean advancement. It contained some guidance, but mostly it was an inconsistent and bland jumble of themes.

Party primacy

The most noteworthy point of emphasis throughout the speech was the subordination of the army to the Workers' Party. It is doctrinaire communism that the army is subordinate to the party. Bonapartism is the crime of army usurpation of party leadership. Nevertheless, Kim stressed this relationship repeatedly.

Even the paragraphs that describe army achievements last year and its goals in 2014 mention the army as a servant of the party. The words do not quite match real world events because the army is the only institution that can protect the Kim family, with or without the party. The repetition of party supremacy looks forced and raises suspicions about the stability of the leadership.

The consistency of words with facts is manifest elsewhere in the speech.

Chang's execution

Kim did not mention the execution of his uncle directly, but talked about eliminating filth and a threat to the primacy of the party. He spoke of how much stronger the party is now. The party, he said, made a correct decision in eliminating the threat.

Kim does not own his decision to execute his uncle. The few facts available in open sources suggest the army's General Political Department - the commissars -- was important in exposing the so-called threat to the party.

During the past two years, when the party was supposedly weaker, North Korea launched missiles and detonated nuclear devices. It undertook and completed large building projects in Pyongyang and in special economic zones. It developed a plan to develop every province in some special way and made a start at improving infrastructure in the provinces bordering China.

Now that the leadership is unitary and the party is stronger, the major thrust is farming, followed by construction and science and technology. Apparently manufacturing, investment and trade do not count any longer.


Kim ordered that agriculture should lead economic development in 2014.

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