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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korean state media on Friday called on the Trump administration to lift unilateral sanctions on the DPRK, arguing they showed Washington’s intention to continue its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang despite thawing relations.
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the DPRK ruling party, reiterated that the North sought to foster a “favorable atmosphere” for peace on the Korean peninsula, and repeated its assertion that sanctions had not prompted the ongoing diplomatic thaw.
“The sanctions of the U.S. and its followers have never created it,” the Rodong, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), said in a commentary calling on the U.S. to “give up the futile sanctions and pressure racket.”
“The fact that the U.S. maintains the sanctions on our country shows they will not retract the hostile policy toward the DPRK. The sanctions are the main content and intensive expression of the U.S. hostile policy…”
While the Rodong often issues commentary condemning U.S. sanctions, the timing of Friday’s article is notable: state media hasin recent weeks largely refrained from criticizing Washington following U.S. President Donald Trump’s agreement to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “by May.”
The DPRK’s apparent volte-face on dialogue with the U.S. on its nuclear program has prompted suggestions in some quarters that international and unilateral sanctions may be beginning to bite.
State-run media, however, has denied that the sanctions have driven Pyongyang to dialogue – though it has so far made no explicit mention of the upcoming summit.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Tuesday warned hardliners in Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. not to impede the mood for rapprochement and said there had been “a sign of change” in DPRK-U.S. relations.
Another commentary by the KCNA last Saturday said the “racket for sanctions and pressure which was pushed forward with much effort has already gone flat” and urged the Japanese government to rethink its policy toward the North.
Japan’s Kyodo News Agency on Wednesday reported the Japanese government has made contact with Pyongyang through various channels seeking a summit with Kim Jong Un.
Friday also saw the Rodong Sinmun describe the sanctions and pressure policy as “antiquated.”
“The [U.S.’s] followers including Japan… are clamoring that the current atmosphere on the Korean peninsula is evidence that the sanctions on the DPRK have an effect,” the Rodong said.
Washington has “persistently implemented policies of defining the North as an enemy and squeezing to death” since the DPRK’s establishment, it continued.
The Rodong said it was a “silly idea” that Pyongyang would be brought “into submission” by tightening sanctions and pressure “to the highest level.”
The newspaper said the tensions between Pyongyang and Washington last year proved that the North had become stronger as the U.S. has strengthened its sanctions.
“Frankly speaking, the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK based on sanctions and pressure has done nothing but make the DPRK national power rise to the highest level,” the media said.
The Trump administration would face “more huge humiliation and defeat” if it didn’t learn lessons from last year’s previous showdown.
“The process of the confrontation between the DPRK and the U.S. demonstrates that the U.S. pressure strategy can never work for us.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: White House