As the self-perpetuating speculation of imminent war on the Korean peninsula continues to dominate headlines in 24-hour news coverage and world media outlets, North Korea’s largest daily newspaper the Rodong is sending out quite a different message.
While the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has been releasing almost daily statements threatening to start conflict, the cover of this morning’s Rodong Shinmun (Worker’s Paper) was almost entirely dominated by economic news.
“The party daily has been calling for economic growth as always, and factories and farms appear on the TV news before the announcers launch into anti-U.S. and anti-South Korean rhetoric,” long-time North Korea propaganda pro Brian Myers told the Wall Street Journal yesterday.
True to his reputation as a knowledgable reader of North Korean propaganda, Myers is right. The lead headline in today’s Rodong says “Let’s Speed up the Pace of Byungjin [a policy that calls for simultaneous development of the economy and nuclear weapons] and Economic Development”:
The second lead article on the front page follows the first, and also talks about economic development. The headline reads “Pushing Forward Both Economic Development and Nuclear Weapons is our Revolutionary Strategy“:
In total, of the five front page articles in North Korea’s biggest and most widely-read newspaper, four are about strengthening the North Korean economy, or advancing nuclear weapons (or, euphemistically, ‘nuclear deterrence’):
The only article that matches the current level of hostility in the KCNA is in the bottom right. The headline reads “Foreign Affairs Will be Dealt With With Guts [willpower/determination].
North Korea announced its new policy of simultaneous nuclear and economic development at a meeting of its parliament last Sunday, whereupon it also named Pak Pong Ju as new premier of the North Korean cabinet. Pak is rumored to support Chinese-style economic reforms, although it’s still far too early to ascertain whether or not his appointment will encourage economic development.
Still, regardless of action, domestic North Korean media is very much focussed on talk of strengthening the economy, even if world media is still interpreting inflammatory KCNA statements literally.