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North’s media passes over latest deal in silence

Mar 08,2018
A day after Seoul announced a six-point agreement with Pyongyang that included North Korea’s nod to hold “candid” denuclearization talks with the United States, the regime made no mention of the deal Wednesday through its state-run media - but flaunted its nuclear stockpile as a “legitimate deterrence” against Washington’s “nuclear threat scheme.”

In the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the only article about South Korea’s 10-member delegation to the North, including five presidential envoys who met with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, was that the group departed Pyongyang on Tuesday.

The terse piece, merely two sentences in its English version, was published on the very bottom right corner of the newspaper’s third page Wednesday, marginalized by a myriad of other propaganda materials hailing the leader and socialist values.

“A delegation of special envoy of the south Korean president left Pyongyang on Mar. 6,” read the English article. “Earlier, Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, met and had a talk with members of the delegation at their lodgings and saw them off.”

The layout was a stark contrast to the delegation’s arrival in Pyongyang Monday afternoon, after which the newspaper ran a full-page story the next day on Kim Jong-un’s meeting and dinner with them. Ten photos of their activities were published on the first and second pages Tuesday, one of which featured a smiling Kim shaking hands with Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office in the Blue House who led the South Korean delegation.

“When you look at the South-North agreement,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, “there are parts that would internally be deemed shocking, things that no one other than Kim Jong-un could ever decide.”

Yang added, “It appears Kim Jong-un was worried about his people and military feeling shocked that he mentioned denuclearization, when until now, he’s always stressed the legitimacy of possessing nuclear weapons.”

A retired South Korean government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity echoed Yang’s analysis, saying he projected the North to have felt needless to get into sensitive details.

In a Rodong Sinmun editorial Wednesday, the North instead said that its nuclear development program was a defensive measure aimed at safeguarding the world against threats from the United States, adding that no country had the right to take issue with its “deterrence of justice.” The regime vowed to continue protecting the Korean Peninsula and world peace, “no matter who says what.”

On Tuesday, as the South Korean delegation was in Pyongyang, the newspaper accused Washington of pushing the regime to a brink of war by deploying nuclear strategic assets around the peninsula, adding that the Trump administration’s mentioning of a pre-emptive strike was in itself a “brazen declaration of war.”

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, JEONG YONG-SOO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]