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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-run media outlets on Monday cast doubt on the “sincerity” of U.S. intentions to hold dialogue and improve bilateral ties, warning criticism of the country’s human rights situation could “pour cold water” over plans for a summit.
An op-ed in online outlet Uriminzokkiri – which is not accessible to DPRK citizens and is seen as “outer-track” propaganda – denounced the Trump administration for “pertinaciously clamoring about ‘North Korean human rights’ ahead of the DPRK-U.S. meeting.”
Recent promises by U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the Japanese abductee issue with Kim Jong Un during their upcoming summit and the publication of the 2017 Country Reports on Human Rights by the U.S. State Department in April were cited in the editorial.
“The current situation impels us to cast doubt on the sincerity as to whether the U.S. has the willingness to have a dialogue to improve the DPRK-U.S. relations,” Uriminzokkiri said in a Korean language version of the article.
Raising the human rights issue ahead of dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington, state media said, is “unacceptable ridicule and ludicrous slander.”
“The U.S. kicks up a stink about the ‘North Korean human rights’ when the great interest and attention of the inside and outside is focused on the DPRK-U.S.dialogue,” Uriminzokkiri said.
“It [shows] the real intention is to pour cold water on the atmosphere for dialogue which has been created after a long time.”
Though the outlet refrained from making direct mention of the summit between Kim and Trump, Uriminzokkiri did warn Washington that raising the human rights issue ahead of the meeting would lead to its failure.
The U.S. has shown it has “no intention of retracting the hostile policy toward the DPRK and turning the hard-earned opportunity for dialogue into the venue for confrontation,” the article argued.
Another DPRK-affiliated online outlet, the Arirang-Meari, on Monday released an article headlined “What the U.S. should know about at this moment,” urging Washington to stop raising the human rights issue.
The article said the Trump administration had “spoiled the atmosphere for dialogue by adhering to the hostile policy toward the DPRK prior to DPRK-U.S. talks.”
“At an important time when the DPRK-U.S. dialogue was put into practice in full swing, the U.S. clings to the ‘human rights’ racket, which denies the dignity and regime of the counterpart of the dialogue, with unblushing effrontery,” Arirang-Meari said.
“No one can’t cast doubt on the U.S. willingness,” it continued. “But the U.S. should be aware at this historic moment is that it will be an irreparable unfortunateness for the U.S. if they ruin the major event with futile persistence and ambition.”
The media called for Washington to respond to the North’s “sincere, generous and proactive measures” instead of “provoking their counterpart in dialogue by mimicking a ‘human rights judge’.”
Monday also saw the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the DPRK’s most widely-read newspaper, criticize Washington’s response to the North’s recent decision to permanently freeze missile and nuclear tests and dismantle the Punggye-ri test site.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders last week said Washington would continue the campaign of maximum pressure until it sees “concrete actions taken towards complete and total denuclearization.”
“The U.S. should correctly read the profound meaning contained our crucial measure and deeply think about the U.S. fate and prospects before acting rudely,” the Rodong said.
“If they said they will continue to swing the ‘sanctions’ club which is like a rotten stick at any time without being aware of how the general trend goes, they will nothing but the laughing stock of people around the world.”
The daily newspaper urged the U.S. to be “rational” and to learn “how to behave in a polite manner.”
Last Friday’s inter-Korean summit saw DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and ROK President Moon Jae-in agree to take steps towards signing a peace treaty and the “complete denuclearization” of the penisula.
The agreement was met with relative praise by President Trump, though one senior U.S. official on Sunday warned that an upcoming summit between the President and Kim Jong Un would not take place without firm DPRK commitment to denuclearize.
Bolton, however, acknowledged the differences between the North Korean and Libyan nuclear programs.
“It’s a matter of first finding out just how much there is to dismantle,” he said during an interview with Fox News.
“And therefore, the full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear weapons program with full international verification, and I think following Libya, verification by American and other inspectors is – could be very important here.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: UNICEF