Regime Tells North Koreans Denuclearization Is Irreversible Ahead of Trump Summit

Regime Tells North Koreans Denuclearization Is Irreversible Ahead of Trump Summit
Bystanders watch a news broadcast showing images of a summit meeting between North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea's president Moon Jae-in on a public television screen in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018. (Kim Won Jin/AFP/Getty Images)
Petr Svab

A North Korean newspaper, the main mouthpiece of the communist regime, ran an opinion piece that, for the first time, provided the citizenry a rationalization—from the regime’s propaganda perspective—for denuclearization.

The op-ed, published in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper, presented the path to peace—a keyword in the denuclearization narrative—as difficult, but irreversible.

“The road to peace is hard, and sometimes accompanied by great sacrifices,” the article stated. “We cannot rest just because the road ahead is too long, and we can’t turn around or retreat just because of trials and obstacles blocking it.”

The op-ed, which mentioned the word “peace” or “peaceful” more than 70 times, came two weeks before the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, planned for Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

In the grandiose language typical of North Korean press, the piece argues that Kim was on the verge of a military conflict with the United States, but decided to make a “great strategic choice to tame the war with love.”

“The power of infinite love that sprang from his heart was transcending dozens of hydrogen [bombs],” stated the Feb. 13 article.

Seismic Propaganda Shift

For decades, the communist regime fed North Koreans with propaganda that nuclear weapons were crucial in preventing the United States from invading the country. But the narrative shifted with the historic April 27, 2018, Panmunjom Declaration, when Kim pledged to denuclearize.

The op-ed appears to mark a major shift in the communist propaganda of old.

“This is the first time the Rodong Sinmun has run a story explaining the significance and background of the ‘complete denuclearization’ that Kim has repeatedly promised,” the South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh stated in a Feb. 18 report.

The language of the op-ed, which was attributed to “a Japanese resident in Korea,” also “appears aimed at addressing the concerns and grievances of groups in North Korea who object to the fact that the U.S. and U.N. sanctions are still in place,” the paper noted.

Trump said he doesn’t want to rush the denuclearization talks and that the sanctions will remain in place for the time being. He’s also pointed to the economic potential of the tiny country, which is wedged in a strategic position between China, Russia, and South Korea.

“We think that they have a great chance for tremendous economic prosperity in the future,” Trump told reporters on Feb. 15.
Update: The article has been updated with a more accurate description of the Feb. 13 opinion piece.
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
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