Kim's speech avoided harsh criticism of the United States, its wartime enemy. North Korea has used past New Year's editorials to accuse the U.S. of plotting war.
In other signs of changes in the country — at least at a superficial level — North Korea also had its first grand New Year's Eve celebration, with residents of the capital treated to the boom of cannons and fireworks at midnight.
In Pyongyang, residents danced in the snow at midnight Monday to celebrate the end of a big year for North Korea, including the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung and the first year of Kim Jong Un's leadership. Fireworks lit up the cold night sky, and people stood in fur-lined parkas, taking photos and laughing and dancing with each other in plazas.
Associated Press writer Kim Kwang Hyon contributed to this story from Pyongyang, North Korea.
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