kim jong un sarcasm
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pictured during a test-fire of strategic submarine-launched ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, Aug. 25, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA

An analysis of Kim Jong Un’s New Year's Day speech showed that the North Korean leader may take steps to protest a military exercise between neighbor South Korea and the United States, along with possible purges of senior Pyongyang officials, a report said Wednesday.

Kim, who assumed power in 2011, could take measures to launch a “purification campaign,” a report by Seoul’s Institute for National Security Strategy showed.

Kim may have executed hundreds of officials, many of them belonging to the older, military elite like former defense chief Hyon Yong Chol and the supreme leader’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek. Even those within Kim’s government live as “slaves,” defectors claim. While some say these purges have alienated Kim from the upper rungs of governance, others maintain that he is simply attempting to consolidate his power.

During the speech, the North’s leader made an unprecedented bow and expressed regret over his inability to perform better, which analysts say is an attempt to showcase himself as the people’s leader. The report added: “He is likely to conduct numerous purges and overhauls that can shift responsibility for poor past performances to bureaucrats this year.”

Kim said he sends the “North Korean people warm greetings with a solemn heart and respectfully conveys the glory and blessings of a hopeful New Year,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

Kim is moving forward with North Korea’s nuclear weapons development despite the country’s economic downtown, but the speech was an attempt at showing a new approach to policy at a time when the population is “burdened by a chronic economic downturn, and complaints [about the regime] are reaching a climax,” the report said.

The speech could be a forewarning as Kim reportedly seeks to diffuse domestic tension by resorting to “swamp draining” with “mass purges” of government officials this year.