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Asia-Pacific
North Korea labels reform talks a 'daydream'
Senior official says expectations of reform under rule of Kim Jong-Un is "like wanting the sun to rise in the west".
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2012 00:41
In a break from prior practices, it was recently announced that new leader Kim Jong-Un is indeed married [Al Jazeera]

North Korea has denied reports from South Korea that major reforms are coming to Pyongyang, describing any potential policy changes in the communist state as a "foolish daydream".

Seoul commentators claimed the changes may have been implemented to set the stage for possible efforts by Swiss-educated Kim Jong-Un to open up the country to political or economic reforms.

A spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is in charge of cross-border affairs, blasted such hopes as "ridiculous" and "ignorant" in an interview with state-run KCNA on Sunday.

"The puppet group [the South] ... tried to give [the] impression that the present leadership of the DPRK [North Korea] broke with the past. This is the height of ignorance," he said.

"To expect policy change and reform and opening from the DPRK is nothing but a foolish and silly dream, just like wanting the sun to rise in the west."

He also accused Seoul of trying to impose its capitalist system upon the North by "trumpeting reform and opening", adding, "there cannot be any slightest change in all policies" of the communist state.

Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, took the reins of power in December following the death of his father, longtime ruler Kim Jong-Il.

Speculation of impending change was fuelled earlier this month when the communist regime sacked Ri Yong-ho, a prominent military chief, replacing him with a little known general and promoted Jong-Un to the top military post of Marshal.

Pyongyang also made a rare announcement last week that the young ruler is marriedto Ri Sol-ju, believed to be a musician. The unveiling of Ri was seen as a major departure from the past when the private lives of the young leader's predecessors were kept under wraps.

Kim inherited from his father an economy in ruins after decades of mismanagement, and a malnourished population dependent on foreign food aid.

Educated in the West, he has been seen as potentially more receptive than his father to undertaking sweeping reforms which would open up the nation's crumbling economy.

However, the International Crisis Group (ICG) thinktank said last week that there was nothing to suggest that Kim would take measures to improve the lot of his impoverished people in the isolated state.

The Brussels-based thinktank said that economic reform -- however necessary to the country's wellbeing -- would contradict the centrally-planned system espoused by Kim's father and grandfather.

Inter-Korea ties have been particularly icy since the South's conservative leader Lee Myung-Bak took office in 2008, repeatedly urging the North to reform and saying reunification was imminent, despite complaints from Pyongyang.

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