South Korean special envoy Chung Eui-yong meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on Mar. 5. (provided by Blue House)
North Korea’s avoidance of open mention of an inter-Korean summit scheduled for late April or a summit with the US in May is drawing attention. Attacks on the US by state-run media in North Korea have also become noticeably more muted.
As of Mar. 13, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and other North Korean state-run media had not reported on related developments since reports the day immediately after leader Kim Jong-un’s Mar. 5 meeting and dinner with a South Korean special envoy’s delegation including Blue House National Security Office director Chung Eui-yong. Kim’s agreement at the meeting to hold an inter-Korean summit in late April has not yet been officially announced in North Korea.
The only news outlet reporting on the matter has been the Choson Sinbo, the newspaper of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), whose reporting reflects Pyongyang’s official position. In a Mar. 12 piece titled “A Few Reflections on the 2018 Inter-Korean Summit and North Korea-US Summit,” the newspaper claimed the North Korea-US summit was taking place because North Korea’s “completion of state nuclear armament” had established a “balance of power” with Washington.
The newspaper also printed a Mar. 12 piece in its online edition claiming the summit represented “the beginnings of peace negotiations to put an eternal end to the Northern invasion commotion that the US has routinely engaged in as the chief party responsible for division,” although this was abruptly deleted it the following day.
Meeting with reporters in Nigerian capital of Abuja on Mar. 12, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US had “not heard anything directly back from North Korea [about the summit], but we expect to hear something directly from them.”
A senior South Korean government official said Pyongyang “appears not have announced things officially because dates have not been decided for either the inter-Korean or North Korea-US summit.”
“An announcement will come as a matter of course once there are follow-up discussions on the talks,” the official predicted.
Meanwhile, a Mar. 13 piece in the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea, is drawing attention for referring to US President Trump merely as the “US leader” without denouncing or insulting him. The piece, titled “US Fires a Trade War Signal Flare,” expressed a critical stance on the US.
The reference to Trump is seen as quite mild compared to the rhetoric directed at him during Pyongyang and Washington’s “war of words” last year, when he was referred to as a “mentally deranged dotard” and “terror kingpin.” More recently, the Rodong Sinmun referred Trump as “US leader” in a personally attributed commentary titled “The US’s Collapse Is Inevitable” published on page 6 of its Jan. 30 edition. The newspaper has previously denounced Trump in its articles as a “madman” and “lout.”
By Jung In-hwan, staff reporter
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