Execution ‘not sign of NK policy changes’

2013-12-16 00:22:07 GMT2013-12-16 08:22:07(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

A NORTH Korean official said yesterday that the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle will not lead to changes in economic policies and vowed that the nation would push ahead with a plan to develop new economic zones to attract foreign investment.

Jang Song Thaek’s wife, meanwhile, has been appointed to an ad-hoc state committee, the country’s official media reported, an indication that Jang’s execution has not immediately diminished her influence.

Friday’s execution of Jang, considered North Korea’s second most powerful man and a key architect of economic policies, should not be taken as a sign the country will change economic course or its efforts to lure foreign investment, Yun Yong Sok, a senior official in the State Economic Development Committee, said in Pyongyang.

“Even though Jang Song Thaek’s group caused great harm to our economy, there will be no change at all in the economic policy of North Korea,” Yun said. “It’s just the same as before.”

Market economy methods

Last month, North Korea announced plans to create special economic zones, incubators for introducing market economy methods into the country’s tightly controlled command economy. North Korea also recently laid out new laws to facilitate foreign tourism and investment by providing special incentives and guarantees, while giving local leaders greater autonomy to promote themselves and handle business decisions.

Jang met top Chinese officials during their visits to Pyongyang, and in 2012 traveled to China, as head of one of the largest North Korean delegations to visit the Chinese capital, to discuss construction of the special economic zones.

Yun, however, downplayed Jang’s importance and said his removal would speed progress on the economic front because he was a threat to the unity of the nation. He said Jang’s execution should not scare away Chinese investment, crucial to the success of the zones.

North Korea watchers will be closely following the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death tomorrow. Of particular interest is whether Jang’s wife, Kim Kyong Hui, 67, younger sister of Kim Jong Il, will be present. Her name appeared in a state media dispatch on Saturday on a funeral committee for a Workers’ Party official.

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