North Korean leader Kim Jong Un penned a rare New Year’s letter thanking citizens for their support in “difficult times” and wishing them happiness – but gave no indication he’d give a customary speech this year.
“I will work hard to bring earlier the new era in which the ideals and desires of our people will come true,” Kim wrote, according to the Korean Central News Agency, which said the letter was hand-written.
“I offer thanks to the people for having invariably trusted and supported our party even in the difficult times,” he added. “I sincerely wish all the families across the country greater happiness and beloved people, good health.”
The last time the Hermit Kingdom’s leader sent such a letter to ordinary citizens was on Jan. 1, 1995, by Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry.
It’s virtually impossible to independently confirm whether all of the secretive country’s 25 million inhabitants received the letter from Kim Jong Un, who usually gives a televised speech on Jan. 1.
But he is widely expected to skip it this year since he will address the country’s first ruling Workers’ Party congress in five years sometime in early January.
Kim, who succeeded his father upon his death in late 2011, is facing the toughest challenges of his nine-year rule due to the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters and US-led sanctions amid a diplomatic impasse over his nuclear program.
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His personal message came after Pyongyang put on a performance featuring fireworks, singing and dancing in Kim Il Sung Square to usher in the new year, despite the pandemic, which the rogue regime insists has yet to reach its shores, Agence France-Presse reported.
State TV showed people wearing masks and heavy coats, waving and standing close together.
Also Friday, the country said it has successfully completed “an 80-day battle,” a productivity campaign it often launches to press people to work extra hours and report bigger production numbers before major political events.
During the congress, experts say Pyongyang will likely underscore building a stronger self-reliant economy to tackle the difficulties facing the nation.
With Post wires
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