10 years of Kim Jong-un’s reign… From ‘expectation for reform and opening up’ to ‘return for self-reliance’


This is an order of looking back on the 10 years of the reign of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Ahn Jung-sik, a reporter specializing in North Korea, pointed out the process of returning to self-reliance, although expectations for reform and opening were high at the beginning of his reign.

From miniskirts to shiny clothes, to the theme song of Mickey Mouse and the American movie Rocky, the appearance of the North Korean girl group Moranbong Band seemed to herald a change in the Kim Jong-un era.

Unlike Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un made his wife Ri Sol-ju appear in public, and promoted economic reform.

We introduced a capitalist system in which we can receive more if we work hard, and we also created an economic development zone with external cooperation in mind.

[개성고도과학기술 개발구 착공식 (2013년 11월) : 개발구가 건설되면 여러  나라들 사이에 친선을 도모하고 협조를 발전시키는데….]

The development of the Wonsan-Kalma tourist area and Masikryong ski resort were also ambitious works by General Secretary Kim, with the goal of attracting foreign tourists in mind.

However, this idea did not come to fruition.

The biggest reason is sanctions against North Korea, which have been aggravated by continued nuclear development.

In 2017, as sanctions were tightened due to the successive launch of ICBM-class missiles, foreign companies’ investment in North Korea became almost impossible.

What was emphasized at the 8th Party Congress earlier this year was self-reliance.

[김정은 ‘사업총화’ 보고 (제8차 당대회, 지난 1월) : 주제는 여전히 자력갱생, 자급자족입니다. 경제를 그 어떤 외부적 영향에도 흔들림없이….]

Considering the recent focus on idolizing Kim Jong-un while continuing the nuclear development that caused the isolation, for the time being, the Kim Jong-un era is likely to focus on adherence to the existing system rather than change.

(Video editing: Park Ki-duk)


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