Pyongyang, North Korea North Korea vowed today to stage an all-out drive for prosperity as it unites behind new leader Kim Jong Un, ushering in 2012 with promises to resolve food shortages, bolster its military and defend Kim Jong Il’s young son “unto death.”
The pledge in North Korea’s annual New Year’s message, released by the official Korean Central News Agency, comes as the country enters a new era, with Kim Jong Un installed as Supreme Commander of the 1.2 million-strong military and ruling party leader following his father’s Dec. 17 death.
This year is a crucial one in North Korea’s history as it tries to build a “great and prosperous nation” befitting the April 2012 centenary of the birth of national founder Kim Il Sung, the new leader’s grandfather.
“Glorify this year 2012 as a year of proud victory, a year when an era of prosperity is unfolding,” the North said. “The whole Party, the entire army and all the people should possess a firm conviction that they will become human bulwarks and human shields in defending Kim Jong Un unto death.”
North Korea said it would boost its military and boasted it was “at the epochal point of opening the gates of a thriving country,” with parts of Pyongyang “turned into socialist fairylands.”
Still, the message acknowledged the country’s food crisis, saying “the food problem is a burning issue.” Pyongyang had been in talks with the United States on food aid, but they stopped because of Kim Jong Il’s death.
The United Nations has said a quarter of North Korea’s 24 million people need outside food aid and malnutrition is surging, especially among children.
The North’s message said organic farming methods should be used and that farming machinery and materials should be provided, but it did not go into specifics for improving food supplies.
The message, carried in a joint editorial in the Rodong Sinmun, Joson Inmingun and Chongnyon Jonwi newspapers, said North Korea must build on the foundations laid last year and turn itself “into an economic giant.”