Though it isn’t the first time North Korea has done so, it does give a flicker of hope to know that their leader, Kim Jung Un, gave a New Year’s speech — prerecorded –the first after 19 years when Kim Il Sung died, that extended the olive branch to South Korea. North Korea still believes the two countries to be in fact one, and the division remains one of their most prominent abiding preoccupations, alongside the nefariousness of the United States, their sworn enemy.
“An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south,” said Kim. “The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war.”
Kim Tao-woo, an expert on North Korea, explained the statement saying it “apparently contains a message that he has an intention to dispel the current face-off [between the two Koreas], which could eventually be linked with the North’s call for aid [from the South].”
That they might need such assistance was also suggested in Kim’s speech. He spoke of their economy’s problems, making no gesture to allowing free enterprise, but referring to the need for science and technology.
“The industrial revolution in the new century is, in essence, a scientific and technological revolution, and breaking through the cutting edge is a shortcut to the building of an economic giant.”
What any of this amounts to in terms of concrete plans remains to be seen.