from Vantage Point April, 2011 News Focus
North Korea Emphasizes Youth's Role in Building Prosperous Country
In a meeting, N. Korea emphasized the need for the youth to play a pivotal role in protecting the socialist system of the country.
In a quite unusual manner, North Korea held a meeting of young leaders on Feb.
26, urging them to play a bigger role in building a “great, prosperous and powerful
country” by next year.
In the meeting held in Pyongyang, the North also emphasized the need for the
youth to play a pivotal role in protecting the socialist system of the country. This
youth meeting attracted attention as it took place at a time when the democratization
movement was spreading in Middle East and North African countries such as
Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The North’s socialist regime has set 2012, the centennial of the birth of its late
founder and president, Kim Il-sung, as the deadline for achieving its goal of
becoming great, prosperous and powerful.
Although such gatherings with young people are common in North Korea, it was
the first time that the North has put “songun,” or the military-first politics that have
been leader Kim Jong-il’s ruling ideology, in naming such a meeting, observers in
The Songun Meeting of Youth for General Mobilization was held with the North’s
ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-nam, and other top party officials attending,
the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report.
In a congratulatory message sent by the WPK Central Committee to the participants
of the meeting, Kim Yong-nam praised young North Koreans, saying their
services have provided “a firm guarantee for the building of a thriving nation with
matchless armed forces,” the KCNA report said.
The youth meeting comes as North Korea is moving to anoint the leader’s
youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as its new leader. Kim Jong-il took over power when
his father died in 1994.
Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, was made a four-star general and
given high-level posts at the Workers’ Party of (North) Korea (WPK) last September
in an apparent step toward making him the country’s next leader.
According to the KCNA report, the meeting discussed the tasks and ways for all
young people to contribute to “the heroic spirit and might of the young vanguard
of songun in the general offensive for materializing the desire of President Kim Ilsung
to build a rich and powerful country true to the grandiose plan of leader Kim
Kim Yong-nam, president of the SPA Presidium, conveyed a congratulatory message.
The message said, “The young people have honorably defended the dignity
of songun (North) Korea and (North) Korean-style socialism centered on the popular
masses at the outpost of the anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. struggle and bolstered the
defense capability of the country, turning it into an invulnerable fortress.”
“The young people have performed great labor feats in achieving the great success
of the self-supporting economy and laying a foundation for making a leap forward
in the efforts to realize the ideal to build a thriving nation as vanguard and
shock brigade in the building of an economic power,” the message said. “The WPK
is highly proud of having a large contingent of viable young people who play
major roles in the national defense and socialist construction.”
Ri Yong-chol, the first-secretary of the Central Committee of the youth league, in
his report underscored the need for the young people “who are most active in
society to bring about great innovations and a big leap forward in the van of the
general offensive in the dynamic struggle to put up the plate of a thriving nation
on the gate of the country.”
The next day on Feb. 27, an oath-taking march of youth and students was held
in Pyongyang to carry through the tasks set forth in a congratulatory message of
the WPK to the Songun Meeting of Youth for General Mobilization and to respond
to the appeal adopted at the meeting.
According to the KCNA report, the marchers took to the street, holding cards that
read, “Let us become youth heroes in the worthwhile struggle for glorifying the era
of Kim Jong-il!” and “Bring about a decisive turn in the improvement of the people’s
standard of living and the building of a great, prosperous and powerful country
by accelerating the development of light industry once again this year!”
Meanwhile, the North’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in its editorial
that young people should take the lead in the drive to open the gate to a thriving
nation, dashing ahead toward the future to the tune of the song “Korean Youth
March” as they pledged at the Songun Meeting of Youth for General Mobilization.
Experts in Seoul said the youth meeting of the North was designed to use the
youth organization to play a leading role in preventing the country from civil uprisings,
like those occurring in the Middle East.
North Korea gave more power to the youth organization in September last year
when the WPK’s conference was held, in which Kim Jong-un was officially named
the next leader. The North’s Kim Il-sung Socialist Youth League has some 5 million
members. All North Korean youth aged 14 to 30 years are obliged to join the
league. (Yonhap News)