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View more articles by Rachel Minyoung Lee
Rachel Minyoung Lee
Rachel Minyoung Lee is a senior analyst at NK Pro. Prior to joining NK Pro, she worked as a senior North Korean media analyst for the U.S. Government.
North Korea’s state-run television on Wednesday carried a 78-minute documentary on Kim Jong Un’s Vietnam visit, entitled “Comrade Kim Jong Un, the Supreme Leader of Our Party, State, and Army, Paid an Official Goodwill Visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: February 23–March 5, Juche 108 (2019).”
As the title indicates, the documentary was heavily focused on Kim’s recent visit to Vietnam. The documentary was carried ad hoc, at 2030 Pyongyang standard time.
The lag time between Kim Jong Un’s return home and the initial airing of the documentary this time was 41 hours; the lag time was 32 hours when Kim visited Singapore in June 2018 for his first summit with Trump.
The nine-hour difference appears insignificant, considering that Kim’s Vietnam visit was longer than his trip to Singapore and this documentary was much longer than the 42-minute documentary in June.
The documentary recapitulated all of earlier North Korean media reporting on Kim’s activities chronologically, starting with his departure from Pyongyang, and his return home, which is consistent with the norm.
The documentary concluded with a positive note, without mentioning the U.S.-DPRK summit, depicting Kim’s visit as a “historic official goodwill visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that powerfully displayed traditional relations of friendship and cooperation” and a “remarkable event.”
Below are some key observations.
The video aired on Wednesday evening
1. Kim-Trump summit
Omission of language on friendly atmospherics
Besides the conspicuously short time of 11 minutes allocated to Kim’s two-day meetings with Trump, the TV documentary’s narrative accompanying the U.S.-DPRK summit segment was restrained in its descriptions of the atmospherics of the talks.
The documentary omitted some positive language that the party daily’s readout included on 28 February: Kim and Trump “gladly exchanging greetings and well-wishes” and the dinner proceeding “in an amicable atmosphere” with officials from the two sides sitting “around intimately” at the table on the first day.
Dropping language on prospects of success
The TV documentary narrative did not cite Kim’s comment to Trump on the first day that “excellent results welcomed by everyone will be produced at these talks,” and Trump’s expression of “conviction that this round of talks will be very successful.” By contrast, these remarks were included the party daily’s report on February 28.
No language on Kim’s “promise of a new meeting”
Both the TV documentary and the party daily said Kim and Trump agreed to “continue constructive dialogues” after their second day of talks.
However, whereas the party daily’s March 1 report cited Kim Jong Un as “exchanging farewell while promising a new meeting” with the US president, the TV documentary simply said Kim bade Trump farewell.
North Korean TV instead added a new sentence not found in the original party daily report: that Trump “once again expressed his will to sit face-to-face with Chairman Kim Jong Un more often in the future and bring about excellent fruit in improving DPRK-U.S. relations.”
2. New details revealed about North Korean officials’ activities
The TV documentary included a three-minute segment toward the end introducing North Korean officials’ on-site inspections in Vietnam that state media had previously not disclosed. North Korean TV documentaries sometimes disclose information previously unreleased by other state media outlets.
It showed party International Department Director Ri Su Yong and other officials who accompanied Kim Jong Un to Vietnam visiting Ha Long Bay and various factories, including what appeared to be a car factory.
While showing the segment, the narration said: “…Through the visits, the suite members were able to learn well about Vietnam’s development being achieved through the struggle to guarantee the economy’s balanced development and renew the country’s features… ”
3. Old footage of Kim Il Sung’s trips to Vietnam
Possibly to emphasize Kim Jong Un as carrying on his grandfather’s diplomatic legacy or even draw similarities between the two, the TV documentary showed approximately two-minutes of black-and-white footage of Kim Il Sung’s trips to Vietnam, while describing the warm welcome Kim Jong Un received in Hanoi and praising him for “expanding and developing” DPRK-Vietnam relations.
The party daily earlier mentioned the year of Kim Il Sung’s second trip to Vietnam as 1964, while reporting on Kim’s dinner with the Vietnamese President. This documentary was more specific in saying the visit took place in “November 1964.”
North Korea’s 78-minute TV documentary on Kim Jong Un’s Vietnam visit included only an 11-minute segment on Kim’s meetings with Trump.
Although the video painted the summit in a positive light, showing Kim and Trump smiling and laughing, the narrative accompanying the footage was toned down compared to the party daily’s reports carried earlier. Announcer-read narrations in North Korean TV documentaries on Kim’s activities are generally based on previous party daily reports on the same events.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCTV