Kim Jong Un’s 2019 New Year Address


Kim Jong Un began 2019 with a threat to U.S. President Donald Trump, who he had met just a few months earlier in Singapore. North Korea would, Kim said, seek a different path from its commitment to denuclearize unless the U.S. held up its part of the bargain and eased economic sanctions.

The warning made clear what analysts had been saying for several months: the U.S. and North Korea both came away from the Singapore summit with very different understandings of denuclearization and what was supposed to happen next.

Kim also offered to meet Trump again “anytime” — something that eventually happened in February in Vietnam and again in June in Panmunjon.

Highlighted Achievements of 2018

Kim Jong Un mentioned an increase in generation capacity at the Pukchang Thermal Power Complex and greater production at the Kim Chaek and Hwanghae iron and steel complexes as key economic achievements during 2018.

TV Broadcast and presentation

The speech was prerecorded and broadcast on Korean Central Television on January 1 at 9 am. Prior to its broadcast, North Korean TV alerted viewers to the speech at 8:44 am and 8:50 am. It was repeated the same day at 12 pm, 3 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm and 10:42 pm; on January 2 at 9:20 am, 2 pm, 7 pm and 8:30 pm and on January 3 at 10:30 am, 3 pm and 6:30 pm.

Unlike previous years, the 2019 speech showed Kim Jong Un in a more relaxed armchair setting rather than standing behind a lectern. The broadcast began with Kim and three officials, one of whom was his sister Kim Yo Jong, walking through corridors at what was presented to be the Workers’ Party of Korea headquarters. Implausible canned applause was used again.

Newspaper coverage

January 1, 2019, Minju Choson front page

An affiliate of 38 North