Kim Jong-un warns of great life-and-death struggle in new year message

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un rounded off his 10th year with a message of hope for the country's economic development rather than the development of nuclear weapons.

The tyrant reportedly made more mention of tractor factories and school uniforms than weapons of mass destruction, according to summaries by state media on Saturday.

North Korea's main goals for 2022 will be jump-starting the development of the economy and improving people's lives of those facing a "great life-and-death struggle" on the poverty line, Kim said at the end of the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) of Friday.

The meetings coincided with the 10-year anniversary of Kim assuming leadership of the country after the death of his father in 2011.

In comparison to speeches from previous years made by the dictator, the outlook for 2022 seemed pretty tame.

According to the New York Times, Kim used his 2018 speech to make a direct threat to former president, Donald Trump.

He said: "It’s not a mere threat but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office.

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"All of the mainland United States is within the range of our nuclear strike."

But the 2022 speech summaries made no specific mention of the United States, only giving a passing reference to unspecified discussions of inter-Korean relations and "external affairs".

The domestic focus of the speech underscored the economic crises Kim faces at home, where self-imposed anti-pandemic border lockdowns have left North Korea more isolated than ever before.

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Kim said: "The basic tasks facing the part and the people the next year are to provide a firm guarantee for implementing the five-year plan and make remarkable changes in the national development and the people's living."

While he didn't make a direct threat, Kim did reference unspecified military advancements as a major achievement of the past year and discussed "militant tasks" facing national defence in 2022.

The tractor factory he discussed in the speech is also likely to be used to build launch vehicles for missiles, foreign analysts have said, and North Korea is believed to have expanded its military dramatically during the pandemic.

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