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North Korea promises prosperity, demands loyalty to new leader

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Chico Harlan
Washington Post
January 1, 2012

BEIJING — North Korea on Sunday vowed an “all-out drive” toward economic prosperity, setting the vision for a nation with fewer food shortages, a stronger military, and a people who defend their new supreme leader with their lives.

“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 Eun unto death,” said an editorial carried in the country’s three major state-run publications.

North Korea uses its annual New Year’s editorial to set the agenda for the nation, and outside analysts describe it as a fiery keynote. This year’s message provided a window into the country’s policy-making — and its many challenges — in the aftermath of the death of Kim Jong Il, who left behind a failing, nuclear-armed nation led by an inexperienced hereditary successor.

The editorial, outside experts said, tried both to push for economic growth and build support for the young leader, who is thought to be in his late 20s. The editorial made clear that Kim Jong Eun will follow Kim Jong Il’s plan to build a prosperous nation, and it described the successor as a perfect duplicate of his father. Kim Jong Eun’s legitimacy, experts say, depends on that link, especially as he tries to build support among older party and military elites. But his country also faces problems — notably, chronic food shortages and human rights abuses — that his father and grandfather either failed to or neglected to address.

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This article was posted: Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

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