A message conveyed to the Ministry of Unification in Seoul by North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said, "On the South side, war exercises go on without end and large scale combined US-ROK military drills will soon take place. Could scattered families and relatives reunite with peaceful hearts amidst the shells and bullets?"
"Scattered families' and relatives' reunions were originally raised by us last year and reached the stage of being put into action, but then they could not be realized due to the arrogance and hostility of the South side authorities."
"If the South side's proposal for reunions of scattered relatives and families over the New Year stemmed from a sincere desire to reduce the pain of division and improve North-South relations, then good. If nothing else takes place on the South side and there is the intent to discuss our proposal together then we will be able to talk at a good time."
Comment: The North's rejection is significant for several reasons. Despite Kim Jong Un's unctuous statements about improving North-South relations in 2014 in his new year's message, obviously, the North is not prepared to make good on his promise or it was just another lie.
The second point is that South Korean President Park called Kim's bluff on improving relations and found that it is phony.
Finally, the implication of this exchange is that the North's leadership is not sufficiently stable to handle a major foreign policy initiative. Park's offer has proven to be an excellent tactic to clarify the leadership's stability in Pyongyang. The conclusion is that it is not stable or confident enough to talk about separated families, which all Koreans consider a national tragedy.
Agriculture. Defector news outlets have confirmed that Agriculture is the main thrust of economic development this year. As one source said, the regime is promoting 2014 as the year of "putting farming first."
The communist party cadre has received orders to implement the new national priority and has been badgering people three months early to increase the fertilizer quota, which consists of humus, animal waste and human night soil. Every person has a quota to fill or has to buy a waiver chit. The goal is to achieve a bumper harvest.
According to reports from inside the North, people who are scatologically challenged are stealing human night soil to meet the quotas.
Comment: For those analysts who misunderstood Kim's speech, the main thrust for 2014 is inward. The era of outreach and innovation died with Chang Sung-taek. This year appears to be a giant leap backward.
The last time food production was the highest national priority was in 1993 when Kim Il-song replaced military first production with agriculture and production of consumer good as the top national priorities. Kim Il-song also terminated the national planning bureaucracy that year because all of the North's Seven-Year Plans had failed. The country was destitute.
Kim Jong Un lacks the authority and charisma to enable him to mimic his grandfather's action or even to pursue the profitable connections that his late Uncle had created. He continues to try to act as if he is the reincarnation of Kim Il-song, but consistently shows he has none of his grandfather's experience or leadership credentials.
Thus, Kim's new year's speech urged the farmers to apply more science and technology to improve the harvest as a major priority. Whoever wrote the speech deceived little Kim or its out of touch because there is no money for fertilizer and no science or technology for farming. Nevertheless, the Party cadre did the best it could and ordered everybody to collect more feces.