SEOUL — In a domestically televised New Year’s Day speech, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Eun said he wants to “remove confrontation” on this divided peninsula and called on “anti-reunification forces” in South Korea to end their hostility toward the North.
The lengthy address, which laid out the national goals for 2013, marked Kim’s first formal remarks since the election two weeks ago of Park Geun-hye as South Korea’s next president.
The North Korean leader asked for a detente — but with prerequisites that the conservative Park is likely to be reluctant to accept. Both sides, Kim said, must implement joint agreements signed years ago by the North and liberal, pro-engagement presidents in Seoul. Those agreements call for, among other things, economic cooperation, high-level government dialogue and the creation of a special “cooperation” zone in the Yellow Sea, where the North and South spar over a maritime border.
Park, who takes office next month, has said she will resume humanitarian exchanges and small-scale economic projects with the North — efforts that were shuttered under outgoing hard-liner Lee Myung-bak. But Park has pledged to hold off on major economic cooperation unless the North disassembles its nuclear weapons program, something Pyongyang says it will never do.
With his speech Tuesday, Kim reinforced his…