SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed an “uncompromising struggle” against anti-socialist elements at home, state media reported Thursday, as he tries to fortify his power amid pandemic-related difficulties and US-led economic sanctions.
The comments by Kim, the third member of his family to rule the impoverished nuclear-armed country, come as doubts increase about both North Korea’s economy and whether it will engage in serious disarmament talks with Washington. There are also worries that the North is continuing to build a strengthened atomic arsenal that directly threatens the United States.
The Biden administration, which took over after dramatic, but ultimately unsuccessful, direct diplomacy between Kim and former President Donald Trump, has described its recent North Korea policy review as “calibrated and practical.”
But some experts say Washington won’t relax sanctions — a step North Korea badly wants — until the North first takes denuclearization steps. That may be growing increasingly unlikely because Kim is seen by many outside analysts as viewing his weapons as his government’s only guarantee of survival.
In a letter to participants at a meeting this week of labor organizations, Kim said “the struggle against the anti-socialist and non-socialist practices is a do-or-die battle to defend the working-class purity and lifeline of our style of socialism,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
“Anti-socialist and non-socialist practices” likely refer to citizens pursuing capitalism, perceived selfishness and other things that Kim sees as running counter to socialism and collectivism and posing a threat to his family’s rule.
KCNA quoted Kim as saying it’s important to “wage (an) uncompromising struggle against (the anti-socialist and non-socialist practices) and resolutely smash them.”