NKorea calls for unity on the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death | World news

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By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea commemorated the 10th anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong Il on Friday with calls for greater public loyalty to his son and current leader Kim Jong Un, which is struggling to get the country out of the worsening pandemic – the related difficulties.

In his 10 years as head of North Korea since his father’s death, Kim Jong Un, 37, has achieved the same absolute power enjoyed by Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the grandfather. and founder of the current ruler’s state. Despite massive economic shocks caused by draconian anti-virus measures and long-standing diplomacy with the United States, North Korea shows no signs of political instability and few outside experts are questioning the grip of the United States. Kim on power.

But the long-term stability of Kim Jong Un’s regime could still be in question if it fails to find measures to address the current difficulties and improve the livelihoods of the public, some observers say.

On each previous death anniversary, Kim Jong Un paid homage to a mausoleum where the embalmed body of Kim Jong Il rests as is with that of Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un also held national gatherings in honor of his father on some milestone birthdays such as the first and fifth.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

He was due to do the same this year, but North Korean state media did not immediately report on Kim Jong Un’s public activities on Friday morning. State newspapers ran articles revering Kim Jong Il and calling for greater unity behind Kim Jong Un, while state television broadcast propaganda songs and documentary films about the late leader.

“The great leader and comrade Kim Jong Il is always with us (…) and he is the eternal ‘suryong’ and the sun of ‘juche (self-sufficiency)’ of our party and our revolution,” the main newspaper said. North Rodong Sinmun in a statement. editorial, referring to a revered title reserved for North Korean leaders.

Without mentioning the current difficulties, the newspaper said, “We should do all we can to strengthen our unity of mind … by standing united behind respected comrade Kim Jong Un.”

On Thursday, ordinary citizens offered flowers and paid tribute in front of giant bronze statues of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang.

This year’s death anniversary comes as Kim Jong Un grapples with the most difficult time of his reign due to the coronavirus pandemic, persistent UN sanctions and mismanagement.

North Korea’s trade with China, its largest trading partner and an economic pipeline, fell about 80% last year before plunging again by two-thirds in the first nine months of this year. Last year, the northern economy suffered its biggest contraction since 1997, while its grain production also fell to its lowest level since Kim took office, according to South Korean government estimates.

Kim refuses to resume talks with Washington and Seoul as he calls for building a stronger, self-reliant economy and maintains strict restrictions on viruses, including two years of border closures. Analysts say Kim is concerned that his country’s shattered public health infrastructure could not afford a major virus outbreak, although he maintains a questionable claim that North Korea is coronavirus-free.

“Unless North Korea accepts offers of denuclearization talks with the United States, it cannot stay away from strong international sanctions. Without international cooperation, North Korea must continue to close its borders amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19. And that’s a North Korean dilemma, ”analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the Sejong Private Institute in South Korea said in a recent analytical article.

The North’s expanding nuclear arsenal is at the heart of Kim’s regime, and he has called it “a mighty and precious sword” that secures peace in the face of US military threats.

During its 10-year rule, North Korea carried out 62 rounds of ballistic missile tests, which are banned by several UN Security Council resolutions, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. This number is compared to around nine sets of tests during Kim Il Sung’s 46-year reign and 22 sets during Kim Jong Il’s 17-year reign. Four of the North’s six nuclear tests and its three intercontinental ballistic missile launches all took place during the reign of Kim Jong Un.

Kim’s series of weapons tests in 2016-17 resulted in tougher UN sanctions and resulted in him exchanging threats of destruction and crass slurs with then-President Donald Trump. The two sat down for three rounds of Kim’s historic summit on nuclear weapons in 2018-19, but their diplomacy ultimately collapsed amid wrangling over sanctions. Kim has since threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and build more sophisticated weapon systems.

“North Korea marked the 10th anniversary of the Kim Jong Il Memorial with public ceremonies and state propaganda. More significant will be Kim Jong Un’s attempt, after a decade in power, to chart a credible course for post-pandemic diplomacy and economic recovery, ”said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

Copyright 2021 Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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