North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thanked the public for their trust and support "in the difficult times" and wished them happiness and good health in his first New Year’s Day card sent to his people. Kim usually gives a televised speech on Jan. 1, but he is widely expected to skip it this year since he will address the country’s first ruling party congress in five years sometime in early January, reports the AP. "I will work hard to bring earlier the new era in which the ideals and desires of our people will come true," Kim said in his letter, according to the Korean Central News Agency. "I offer thanks to the people for having invariably trusted and supported our party even in the difficult times," he said. "I sincerely wish all the families across the country greater happiness and beloved people, good health."
North Korea is one of the world’s most cloistered countries, and it’s virtually impossible to independently confirm whether all its 25 million people received Kim’s letter. KCNA said the letter was handwritten by Kim. The last time a North Korean leader sent such a letter to ordinary citizens was on Jan. 1, 1995; that one was written by Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. Kim, who succeeded his father upon his death in late 2011, is facing the toughest challenges of his nine-year rule due to the pandemic, several natural disasters last summer, and persistent US-led sanctions amid a diplomatic impasse over his nuclear program. Kim will likely use the Workers’ Party congress as a venue to muster a stronger unity and lay out new development goals for the next few years.
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