New leader, no change, North Korea declares
Dec 30, 2011, 4:53 GMT
An image taken 29 December 2011 by Yonhap News Agency from the live coverage by the (North) Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station shows North Korea\'s new leader Kim Jong-un. EPA/YONHAP / Korean Central TV Broadcasting Station
Seoul - North Korea told 'foolish politicians around the world' Friday that it would not change its policies as it transitions to a new leader after the death of 17-year ruler Kim Jong Il.
The message was issued by the powerful National Defence Commission a day after the official mourning period for Kim ended and his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, was declared 'supreme leader of the party, state and army.'
Continuity in North Korea's policies would mean a 'military-first' policy, which has emphasized the pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles and built a 1.2-million-strong army, one of the world's largest, in an impoverished communist country of 24 million people.
'We declare solemnly and confidently that the foolish politicians around the world, including the puppet group in South Korea, should not expect any change from us,' the statement carried on the official Korean Central News Agency said.
It also stated that Pyongyang would not engage with the government now in office in Seoul.
Relations between the neighbours worsened when conservative South Korean President Lee Myung Bak took office in 2008. He took a harder line toward the North than his liberal predecessors, insisting, for instance, that Pyongyang show progress in denuclearization if it wanted to continue to receive aid from Seoul.
Tensions reached a high point last year with the sinking of a South Korean warship, which Seoul blamed on Pyongyang and Pyongyang denied, and North Korea's artillery bombardment of a South Korean border island. The two incidents killed 50 South Koreans.
Both nations remain technically at war after an armistice and not a peace treaty ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Kim Jong Il died December 17 of a heart attack at 69, state media said.
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