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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 Korea’s main daily newspaper on Wednesday morning featured extensive coverage of public reaction to Kim Jong Un’s return to Pyongyang yesterday, with multiple articles stressing the importance of “single-minded unity” of the country and downplaying the outcomes of last week’s second DPRK-U.S. summit in Hanoi.
The Rodong Sinmun, the chief organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), carried four pages of responses from industrial units, the public, and top government officials.
On the front page, the North’s most widely-circulated newspaper carried six contributions by senior officials, including vice-chairman of the WPK Central Committee Pak Thae Dok, vice-premier Kim Tok Hun, and minister of Electric Power Industry Kim Man Su.
“Through the visit to the foreign country, the power of the single-minded unity… was fully demonstrated to the entire world,” Pak said, explaining that ‘single-minded unity’ means the “leader and the people share the willingness, breath, and destiny by firmly binding together with the attachment of blood ties which can never be severed.”
In a Korean-language article, Pak said the leader had undertaken the overseas trip while “devoting himself and endeavoring for the eternal prosperity of the fatherland and the peaceful and happy life and future of North Koreans.”
Although the newspaper hailed Kim’s trip as “a long journey of 20,000-ri,” coverage largely downplayed the importance of last week’s second DPRK-U.S. summit on February 27 and 28.
Kim Jong Un’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump — which ended with the two sides failing to come to an agreement — only received one mention in the Wednesday edition.
“The news that our Dear Respected Supreme Leader … returned to the motherland after successfully wrapping up the second DPRK-U.S. summit and the visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam stirred up the blood of the heart of entire officials and employees of the Cabinet with a strong passion,” vice-premier Kim Tok Hun wrote.
Thae Hyong Chol, who serves as president of Kim Il Sung University and concurrently as minister of higher education, as well as vice-minister of agriculture Ri Jae Hyon, also contributed articles to the Rodong, pledging to work hard to develop the country.
On the second page, the Rodong carried a commentary headlined “10 days and 10 nights,” repeatedly emphasizing the DPRK’s “national custom of single-minded unity in which the leader trusts its people and boundlessly loves them, while the people follow him with absolute confidence.”
“We realized it truly and poignantly for the past 10 days and nights,” the Wednesday edition read. “Our harmonious whole has the power as it is the origin of the foremost national power of Juche Korea — which brings the fatherland’s vigorous advance and bright future forward — and the inexhaustible power.”
A day before Kim and Trump kicked off the summit last week, the Rodong also emphasized that single-minded unity between the leader and people was the country’s “most powerful weapon” along with its “politico-ideological might.”
The Rodong on Wednesday reiterated that the people’s “struggle” should keep pace with the leader’s “patriotism.”
“Many things will disappear and fade from the memory as time goes by,” the newspaper said. “Our memory of the 10 days and nights in which the people fully demonstrated the national power… while eager longing for our dear respected leader, will be remembered forever.”
While “keeping the memory and breath of the 10 days and nights continuously for 100 or 1000 days,” the Rodong said the people would be able to enhance the status of the DPRK as a socialist country based on the single-minded unity.
Three commentaries highlighting the link between the DPRK leader and people were also carried on the same page under the headlines: “Bosom of parents from which we cannot live apart,” “Everyone standing by (the leader),” and “Boundless yearning.”
Wednesday’s coverage comes amid a spate of state media coverage highlighting how North Koreans have been dealing with Kim Jong Un’s absence from the country, and follows reports by NK News last week that North Korean officials at home were being actively discouraged from drinking alcohol while the leader was away on business.
On page three of today’s Rodong, workers in economic sectors including coal mining industry, the Electronic Institute under the State Academy of Sciences, the Hwanghae Iron and Steel Complex, and the Sinuiju Bag Factory also promised to increase productivity following Kim’s trip to Vietnam.
“The people were waiting for the day when the leader returns,” the Rodong reported.
Tuesday saw the state-run broadcaster Korean Central Television (KCTV) air footage of Kim arriving at Pyongyang station at around 0300 the same day, welcomed by senior officials and members of the public.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: KCNA