North Korea calls for stronger ties with South Korea in New Year's messageUpdated: 2014-01-02 AM 6:28:36 (KST)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un delivered a rather conciliatory message towards South Korea on Wednesday.
"We must create an atmosphere to improve ties between the two Koreas. I will work together with anyone who values our people and seeks reunification to improve relations."
The message, which was part of an annual New Year's speech that was broadcast on state-run television, was rather unexpected.
Pundits in Seoul have been expecting a military provocation by North Korea some time in March or April this year as it tries to turn attention away from instability following the execution of Jang Song-thaek, Pyongyang's former second most powerful man in command and Kim's uncle.
They now expect North Korea to instead, propose dialogue with Seoul in the coming months.
But North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also mentioned the strained relations with South Korea and the United States.
Pointing to their military exercises around the Korean peninsula, he called them rehearsals for nuclear war against the North.
He warned that if war were to break out, it would spiral into a "nuclear catastrophe."
Now as for the execution of Jang Song-thaek, Kim did not mention him by name.
He instead chose to refer to him as "factionalist filth," and said that removing him has strengthened the ruling Workers' Party.
Jang was executed in mid-December after being charged for trying to overthrow the government.
Also on Wednesday, Kim and with his wife Ri Sol-ju and a group of top officials made their annual visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to pay respects to the regime's two late leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, whose bodies lie in state there.
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.
Reporter : Lian.firstname.lastname@example.org
"Pointing to their military exercises around the Korean peninsula, he called them rehearsals for nuclear war against the North."
(The DPRK has been misguided by someone or it's hysteria. There's no nuclear threat.)