An exchange of rocket and artillery fire in August 2015 marked the first major clash across the inter-Korean border in several years and became a theme of Kim Jong Un’s 2016 new year speech.
Kim addressed the incident during the speech, underlining the potential that any small incident could trigger something bigger. He said, “Last year’s August emergency showed that even a trifling, incidental conflict between the north and the south may spark a war and escalate into an all-out war.”
Kim also warned that “if aggressors dare to provoke us, though to a slight degree, we will never tolerate it but respond resolutely with a merciless sacred war of justice, a great war for national reunification.”
But despite the warnings, he also returned to the idea of detente between the two countries, which made up a central part of his 2015 speech. Kim said “we will make strenuous efforts to develop inter-Korean talks and improve bilateral relations.”
Just six days after the speech, North Korea would conduct its first nuclear test in three years, yet nothing was given away in the speech. Another nuclear test would follow in September 2016.
Highlighted Achievements of 2015
The 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea was the main highlight of the previous year mentioned by Kim Jong Un. He said the celebrations in October, “shook the world with power greater than that of explosion of an atomic bomb or that of the launching of an earth satellite.”
Economic and construction projects mentioned by name were the Paektusan Hero Youth Power Station, Chongchongang Power Station in Tiers, Sci-Tech Complex, Mirae Scientists Street and Jangchon Vegetable Cooperative Farm.
Presentation and Broadcast
The speech was prerecorded and broadcast on Korean Central Television at 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm and 8 pm. It was repeated on January 2 at 9:32 am, 2:19 pm, 7:12 pm and 9 pm, and on January 3 at 10:34 am, 4:18 pm, 7:05 pm and 9:30 pm.
- New York Times: Kim Jong-un Talks of Reconciliation in New Year’s Speech
- Associated Press: ‘Holy war of justice’: Kim Jong-un warns against provocation in New Year speech
- VOA: Kim Jong Un Focuses on Economy, Not Nukes, in New Year’s Speech
- ABC News: Kim Jong Un Says North Korea Is Ready for War if Provoked