Possibility of reforms rejected by North Korea
SEOUL - Agence France-
N Korean soldiers from the historic 105 tank unit denouncing the joint U.S. and South Korean military, raise slogans during a military exercise at an undisclosed location, marking the 59th anniversary of the armistice ended the 1950-53 Korean War. AP photoNorth Korea yesterday warned the South not to expect any major reforms under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, with a senior official rejecting discussion of potential policy change as a “foolish and silly dream.”
Kim, took the reins of power in December following the death of his father, longtime ruler Kim Jong-Il.
Speculation of impending change was fuelled earlier this month when the communist regime sacked prominent military chief Ri Yong-ho and replaced him with a little known general and promoted Kim to the top military post of Marshal.
North Korea also announced last week that Kim is married, in a major departure from the past when the private lives of his predecessors were kept under wraps.
Seoul commentators claimed the changes may have been implemented to set the stage for possible efforts by Swiss-educated Kim to open up the country to political or economic reforms. But a spokesman for the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is in charge of cross-border affairs, blasted such hopes as “ridiculous” and “ignorant” in an interview with state-run KCNA yesterday.
“The puppet group (the South)... tried to give (the) impression that the present leadership of the DPRK (North Korea) broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance,” he said. “To expect policy change and reform and opening from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west.” He also accused Seoul of trying to impose its capitalist system upon the North by “trumpeting reform and opening”, adding, “there cannot be any slightest change in all policies” of the communist state.
Kim inherited from his father an economy in ruins after decades of mismanagement, and a malnourished population dependent on foreign food aid.
Educated in the West, he has been seen as potentially more receptive than his father to undertaking sweeping reforms which would open up the nation’s crumbling economy. However, the International Crisis Group (ICG) thinktank said last week that there was nothing to suggest that Kim would take measures to improve the lot of his impoverished people in the isolated state. ICG said that economic reform would contradict the centrally-planned system espoused by Kim’s father and grandfather.