Kim Jong Un’s First Speech Exalts Military, Unification

Kim Jong Un speaks at a military parade in Pyongyang celebrating the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15th, 2012, as seen from space. Photo credit Digital Globe, Inc. via MSNBC.

As far as we know, Kim Jong Il, late president of North Korea, spoke publicly one time only during his thirty years in the limelight of his country’s ruling party. When he did, it was a single line. His father, Kim Il Sung, had given a speech during celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the North Korean People’s Army’s establishment; after the speech, the younger Kim stepped to the microphone and voiced his only public sentiment: “Glory to the heroic soldiers of the Korean people’s army!” (see it in this video).

That was in 1992. The Western media heard his voice a few more times; for instance, in this video from 2007. Still, he gave no more speeches that his own country would hear.

Kim Jong Un gave his first public speech on April 15th, during the 100th-anniversary celebrations of his grandfather’s birth. It is the nation’s most important holiday. The younger Kim’s speech was extensive—20 minutes long—and stands in sharp contrast to his father’s reclusiveness.

Yet the content of the speech matches the sentiment shared by his father’s single line almost perfectly. Continue reading

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In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

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In the News – Children Brave Harsh Cold for Arirang

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the North Korean authorities ordered the holding of provincial cultural events along similar lines to the famed ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastics. However, in Yangkang Province the weather in the run-up to the event meant that this created considerable displeasure, prompting some wealthier parents to make significant payments to avoid participation.

According to a source from Yangkang Province, a two-hour Arirang-style performance called ‘Shine, Shrine of the Revolution’ went ahead in Hyesan Stadium on the 15th, apparently causing the watching citizens of the city to agree that “We are in tears just watching those kids perform so well when they haven’t had enough to eat.”

Starting in February and continuing throughout the winter, preparations for the performance were intense, so a number of middle and upper class families apparently paid 60-100,000 North Korean Won to get their elementary- and middle school-age children out of it.

“The provincial education office issued an order telling schools to organize the performance for themselves, so the students in charge of preparing the card section had a really hard time making it,” the source explained. ”The intensity of the dance practice was too harsh as well; there were many kids with nosebleeds.”

“They said it was hell, spending all day in the icy cold practicing,” she went on. “Even in April it is about 10℃ in Yangkang Province, cold enough to be wearing padded clothes at midday. The students had to bring lunch, and those who did not practiced the whole day starving”.

“Does ‘Arirang’ know that these children are starving and suffering like this?” Hyesan residents could reportedly be heard to wonder, referring euphemistically to Kim Jong Eun.

Provincial performances of this nature were first initiated when Kim Jong Il attended a mass gymnastics event in Jagang Province in August, 2009, declaring that regional variations on a theme be prepared nationwide. These events are ordinarily held from Liberation Day on August 15th to Party Foundation Day on October 10th, but this year saw special performances organized to mark the April 15th holiday, requiring preparations to go ahead during the winter.

However, on April 15th Rodong Shinmun released news of the Yangkang Province performance, saying that it had rendered the stadium “aflutter with joy.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea unveils huge carving for late Kim Jong Il

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In the News – North Korea unveils huge carving for late Kim Jong Il

North Korea has unveiled a massive carving 120 metres wide across a natural rockface to mark next week’s birthday of late leader Kim Jong-Il

Original video can be found here.

An Interesting Pair

My mentee wished me a happy belated birthday this morning. I was surprised. I was convinced he had forgotten me after I tried sending him letters and emails. He was a funny kid. The first time I met him was when all mentors were paired with their mentees; he said something to me in Korean and then suddenly left. I did not understand what he said other than that he was leaving and I didn’t know if or when he was coming back, so I chased him down the corridor calling after him. I clarified the matter then, but I could tell it would be an interesting two weeks. Continue reading

In the News – Kim Jong-un ‘Watched Long-Range Missile Launch’

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In the News – Kim Jong-un ‘Watched Long-Range Missile Launch’

 Korean Central Television on Sunday, North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un appears in a military vehicle (top) and a helicopter at an undisclosed place in North Korea. /KCTV-Yonhap”]
North Korean state TV marked new leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday on Sunday with a documentary that claimed he watched the launch of a long-range missile alongside his late father Kim Jong-il in April 2009.

The 50-minute film focusing on Kim junior’s so-called on-the-spot guidance tours said he accompanied his father during a visit to the control center for the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite. The launch of the fictitious satellite was a thin cover for what is widely believed to be an attempt to test a long-range missile. Continue reading