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North Korean Leader Threatens ‘Sacred War,’ Pledges Economic Growth

“Most die either because they are machine-gunned, or they die in vehicle crashes”.

Kim devoted much of the almost 30-minute speech to his preparedness to engage in talks with South Korea for their reunification and his resolve to raise living standards for North Korean citizens, such as by eliminating power shortages as much as possible.

Commuters walk past a television screen showing a broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s New Year speech, at a railroad station in Seoul on January 1, 2016.

The death earlier this week of Pyongyang’s point man on ties with Seoul had raised some speculation that Mr. Kim might signal a more hawkish inter-Korean policy, but he said he wanted to restart stalled talks. But he said Pyongyang would continue to “actively try” to improve relations with South Korea.

No details of his death were given other than the fact that it came on Tuesday in an automobile accident, and that Kim Yang Gon died at the age of 73, according to Times Of Man. “Sadly, Comrade Kim Yang-gon died in an automobile accident at 6:15 pm on December 29 of Juche Year 104 [2015]”.

Kim Yang Gon had been in charge of inter-Korean affairs since 2007. “We are willing to have talks in an open-minded manner with anyone who wants peace and unification”.

Spokesman Kim Sung-soo of the main opposition Deobooleoh Democratic Party also positively assessed the North’s expressed will for dialogue.

North Korea’s policy toward South Korea during the rule of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un would be inexplicable without accounting for Kim Yang-gon.

North Korea’s main newspaper showed photos of a visibly upset Kim Jong Un holding back tears beside Kim Yang Gon’s open casket. The neighbors reached an agreement to defuse tensions in August after a landmine at the border injured two of the South’s soldiers, but high-level talks that followed last month ended without any deal.

Kim Jong-un praised efforts to improve inter-Korean relations and made no mention of the country’s nuclear program.

The first in 36 years, the communist party congress will be held between October and May and could result in the unveiling of new policy guidelines and an eventual restructuring of the regime’s leadership.

Top official Choe Ryong Hae, who had been absent from state media since late October and was rumored to have been in internal exile, was listed as a member of the funeral committee. Choe was reportedly sent to a collective farm in the countryside to receive “revolutionary education”, while rumors have surfaced that Won was purged.

The South blamed the North which denied responsibility. Mr. Jang had been considered North Korea’s No. 2 official, and was responsible for handling North Korea’s relationship with Beijing.

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