Kim Jong Un thanks North Koreans for their support ‘in difficult times’ in his first New Year’s cards to the public
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent his first New Year’s Day cards to citizens Friday, thanking them for their support “in the difficult times.”
The Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim wrote that he “will work hard to bring earlier the new era in which the ideals and desires of our people will come true.”
“I offer thanks to the people for having invariably trusted and supported our party even in the difficult times,” he reportedly added. “I sincerely wish all the families across the country greater happiness and beloved people, good health.”
The news agency reported that the letter was handwritten by Kim, though The Associated Press noted that given the tight-lipped nature of the North Korean government, it is almost impossible to independently confirm this, as well as whether or not all of the country’s 25 million citizens received copies.
While Kim usually gives a televised address to citizens on Jan. 1, he was expected to opt out of this for 2021, as he plans on making a speech to the country’s Workers’ Party congress early on in the month.
According to the AP, the congress, which serves as the party’s top decision-making body, is the first since 2016, though many of the country’s decisions are made by Kim himself, as well as his close allies.
North Korea faces an economy further weakened by the coronavirus pandemic and U.S.-led sanctions over the country’s nuclear program.
In November, South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by members of the country’s intelligence agency said that the North Korean government had ordered the execution of at least two people, locked down the capital of Pyongyang and implemented other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Wall Street Journal reported early December that North Korean actors attempted to hack into at least six pharmaceutical companies developing COVID-19 treatments in the U.S., the U.K. and South Korea.
One of the companies targeted by the hackers was U.K.-based AstraZeneca, which U.K. health authorities approved this week for emergency use.
North Korea has continued to argue that it has not had a single COVID-19 case, although this has been disputed by several outside experts.