Following the 2020 parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea where DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un delivered his congratulatory address to the nation, ONN performed a detailed analysis of his speech. Using qualitative and quantitative methods of text and sentiment analysis, the article determines how unique the 2020 address was compared to all the previous speeches given by the North Korean leader.
The 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), and the parade marking the occasion, during which Chairman Kim Jong Un delivered an address to the nation, coincided with two major external events: the COVID-19 pandemic and the typhoons and floods that hit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the summer 2020. These two factors have had a significant impact on the country’s economy and were mentioned extensively in his speech. The overall focus of the address was primarily on domestic challenges.
The 2020 anniversary speech was notable for Kim Jong Un’s direct expression of thanks to the North Korean people for their trust and help in overcoming the hurdles the country is facing, the first time he has done so. He also for the first time apologised to the people, specifically for having failed to live up to the expectations of his citizens.
The military-related aspects of the speech were also relatively unusual. While the speech included a reference to “hostile forces”, there was no explicit naming of those forces. The speech also focused on deterrence capabilities, rather than offensive capabilities, and included no explicit reference to the DPRK’s nuclear forces. Overall, Kim appears to have deliberately avoided the use of provocative statements and aggressive language.
Kim conveyed his best wishes to all people around the world who were combating the pandemic and expressed the hope that the global health crisis would soon come to an end, allowing also North and South Korea to interact again.
The combination of these factors - the domestic focus, the direct expression of gratitude and apologies to the people, the more moderate military signalling, and the positive messaging to South Korea and the world - make the latest speech stand out from other addresses Kim has given since he assumed leadership. While each of these factors has been cited individually previously, their collective reference in the same speech is unusual.