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Seoul Welcomes Kim's New Year Address

02 January 2019

In the address, Kim Jong-un highlighted last year's developments in inter-Korean and US-North Korea relations, while calling on his country to seek economic development and modernize its defense industry.

This year, he sat on a comfy chair in a wood-paneled room flanked by bookshelves and overlooked by paintings of his grandfather and father - state founder Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il - at work at their desks.

His previous New Year's addresses had taken place in more formal settings, with Kim standing at a podium.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he is committed to denuclearisation, but warned he will change course if the USA continues its sanctions.

Kim said he was willing to meet the USA president at any time, mixing in conciliatory messages with his warnings of conflict to Washington and Seoul in his annual speech where he laid out policy priorities for his isolated and impoverished country.

Kim's speech comes after year of unprecedented summitry, including the historic summit with Trump and three meetings with Moon and two with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and provided a rare glimpse into the general direction of the reclusive country's policy in the months to come.

His New Year speech was closely watched for any clues as to how the North will act on the long stalled denuclearization talks with the U.S.

He also urged the United States to take "sincere measures and corresponding action" in response to alleged peace initiatives undertaken by the North Korean government.

North Korea might be "compelled to explore a new path" to defend its sovereignty if the United States "seeks to force something upon us unilaterally. and remains unchanged in its sanctions and pressure", Kim said in his nationally televised address.

Although he warned he could explore a "new path", Kim's restrained tone indicates his willingness to maintain the momentum for dialogue with the USA, experts say.

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Earlier in the year, Goleta's Kmart closed , with Target intending to take over the space at Storke Road and Hollister Avenue . He said he meant to bid $4.6 billion for 500 stores and other operating assets, including the Kenmore appliance brand.

The opposition Liberty Korea Party, on the other hand, noted Kim's speech promised no concrete progress toward denuclearization and contained threats to abandon peace efforts if North Korea's demands are not met. Liberty Korea also insisted it would be "impossible" to resume joint economic projects with North Korea unless "substantive progress" is made in dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said.

A meeting between North Korean officials and U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo was cancelled by the North at the last minute in November and has yet to be rescheduled.

Analysts said Kim's message sent clear signals that North Korea is willing to stay in talks with Washington and Seoul this year - but on its own terms.

For US officials expecting major concessions from Pyongyang, however, the speech may have been disappointing, according to Ko Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. North Korea has ceased its provocative ballistic missile tests in recent months. China has been the key benefactor for North Korea's economy.

"North Korea seems determined in 2019 to receive some sort of sanctions relief".

The GOP tweeted late Tuesday night that the Singapore Summit was a "huge step forward in negotiations with North Korea".

He added that if the two Koreas join forces, no sanctions or pressure from external forces would be able to stop their efforts to "open a new road of prosperity for the people".

There are also plans for Kim Jong-un to travel to the South's capital Seoul for another inter-Korean summit but again, those plans have not been confirmed yet.

North Korea expert Bob Carlin, speaking at a conference call run by 38North.org, noted the possible significance of Kim proclaiming that the North is no longer producing nuclear weapons.

Seoul Welcomes Kim's New Year Address