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N. Korea’s Kim wants better living standards, arms

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09:06 AM January 1st, 2013

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January 1st, 2013 09:06 AM

A North Korean family has their photo taken in front of fireworks as they celebrate the new year on Tuesday Jan. 1, 2013. North Koreans celebrated the arrival of the new year, marked as “Juche 102” on North Korean calendars. “Juche” means “self reliance,” the North Korean ideology of independence promoted by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, and modern-day North Korean calendars start with the year of his birth in 1912. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)

PYONGYANG — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his people must pursue economic improvement with the same urgency scientists put into the launch of a long-range rocket last month.

Kim said in a speech Tuesday that boosting living standards is the new year’s most important task. But he’s also calling for the development of more advanced weapons.

North Korea struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.

Last year saw plunging inter-Korean ties, the collapse of a U.S.-North Korean food-aid-for-nuclear-freeze deal and two North Korean long-range rocket launches that Washington and others called covers for banned ballistic missile tests.

Kim took over after his father Kim Jong Il’s December 17, 2011, death.

He also called for a “revolution” in science and technology and more amusement parks.

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