Come the new year most Western leaders fall over themselves to deliver a New Year’s speech. But that’s not the case in North Korea where a New Year’s speech–even allowing for calendar differences–is a rarity.
In fact the last leader’s New Year’s speech in North Korea was given by Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of today’s leader, in 1994.
So there must have been some consternation when the current leader Kim Jong-un chose to give a New Year’s speech on state television and radio.
Giving his speech from a podium rich in revolutionary communist iconography Kim Jong-un appeared alert and vibrant, in stark contrast to the last few pronouncements made by his father who died in 2011.
Reading from a prepared script he gave his speech at quite a pace. Pausing doesn’t appear to be a skill in the new leader’s armoury. He also rocks from side to side when speaking. Fortunately that’s largely masked by the enormous lectern that’s hiding him from too much attention.
His audience appeared appreciative giving him a noisy welcome of applause before he started his speech.
In his speech he called for better ties with South Korea and noted that history suggests continued confrontation leads to war. Well said. Happy New Year.