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North Korea squelches hopes that new regime will bring change

SEOUL — North Korea watchers who see signs of reform and the potential for a new era of cooperation with the outside world under Kim Jong Un are sadly mistaken, according to a commentary posted on the North’s official news agency website.

“To expect ‘policy change’ and ‘reform and opening’ from [North Korea] is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement quoted by the Korea Central News Agency.

South Korean officials have suggested recent moves by Kim and those in his regime are signs of a shift in the government’s philosophy that breaks with the past.

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“This is the height of ignorance,” the KCNA commentary said.

The committee spokesman said that in foreign relations, North Korea “has flung its door open to all those countries that are friendly toward it in the idea of independence, friendship and peace.”

“It also has kept its door of reconciliation, unity and reunification open in relations between the North and the South,” he said. “It is the hostile forces such as the U.S. and the South Korean puppet group that are running wild to isolate and stifle the [North] with vicious sanctions while preventing it from conducting normal exchange with other countries.”

Kim, who is believed to be in his late 20s, took over as leader of North Korea after the December death of his father, Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Il came to power after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, the nation’s founder. 

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. James Thurman said last week, when asked how he felt so far about the new regime, “I’m encouraged, but I think it’s too early to tell.”

Among the potential signs of change this year were the North’s public acknowledgment a satellite launch had failed; the use of Disney characters in a government-sponsored production; the recent replacement of a high-ranking military official; and several public appearances by Kim in the company of his wife.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea has a significantly different view of the approach Kim and those in his regime have taken since December.

“Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un … is leading the Korean revolution to victory with his matchless grit, pluck and outstanding leadership while steadily carrying forward the great Songun revolutionary cause of the peerlessly great men, and the growing reverence of (a) broad range of people in South Korea for him,” the KCNA commentary said.

North Korea, it continued, “is effecting new innovations and creations in order to make its people enjoy (a) modern and a highly civilized life and live in luxury and comfort under socialism to their heart’s content while pushing back the frontiers of (the) latest science and technology in all fields.”

“The puppet group should not get confused,” it said.

rabiroffj@pstripes.osd.mil

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