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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 continued adherence to the principle of national independence will be “fateful” in deciding its future in the face of pressure imposed by “hostile forces,” the country’s ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun stressed in a rare special article on Monday.
The article highlighting the importance of the “line of independence” — to which the newspaper devoted the entirety of its front page — echoed a policy speech delivered by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on April 12 at the opening session of the DPRK’s 14th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
In that speech, the Rodong Sinmun said Monday, the leader had “re-defined the construction of powerful socialist country adhering to the revolutionary line of independence and self-reliance as the resolute policy line of the party and the state.”
The newspaper said the issue of holding fast to the independence line became a “more and more pressing demand” at a time when “tyranny stalks.”
North Korea’s current struggle for national independence “takes place in an environment fundamentally different from the last century,” it continued.
“Today, independence becomes the fateful issue of dying or surviving under the double, triple-layered pressures imposed by hostile forces. It is also a serious issue of giving up the feat of constructing the powerful country halfway or finishing it to the end.”
The North Korean people would have been forced to accept a “miserable fate worse than death” if the party had taken a step back from the path of independence, the Rodong continued.
“The lesson of some countries including Iraq and Libya clearly shows that no matter how they ingratiate themselves with great powers, they eventually end up with facing bloody upheaval and the national ravages,” the Rodong said.
Monday’s article is noteworthy, NK Pro senior analyst Rachel Minyoung Lee said, as a “rare, authoritative Rodong Sinmun ‘Editorial Bureau [EB] special article,” describing it as the first of its kind to be published in the ruling party daily since December 2015.
“RS EB special articles are almost always one entire page, usually on the front page, and they generally deal with internal and ideological issues,” she continued.
“This appears to be the most authoritative reaffirmation of Kim Jong Un’s ‘independent line’ since Kim’s speeches at the party plenum and the Supreme People’s Assembly in April. Since Kim’s speeches, ‘independent line’ has been a dominant theme in state media.”
In the special article, the Rodong on Monday stressed that the DPRK must secure the dignity and happiness of the people from the “tyranny of the imperialists considering the law of the jungle as a rule of survival.”
“The mentality of independence and self-respect of the nation is stronger than sanctions and pressure,” the party daily emphasized.
“The scheme to isolate and stifle the DPRK over the past years have been literally murderous, which is more than sufficient to completely annihilate one country and one nation.”
Sanctions and blockades imposed by hostile forces do not solely aim to “disturb the public sentiment and subvert the system by creating the worst economic hardship,” the newspaper stressed.
“The real intention of the enemies is to make the country their dependency and an outpost of achieving their hegemonic ambitions by rooting out the independent economic structure… and completely destroying development potential.”
Regardless of sanctions and pressure, the newspaper said, Pyongyang had been able to take steps which other countries would never dare to take and worked to “adamantly implement them” while at the same time standing up to the U.S.
“The audacity and spirit of the DPRK, which augustly pressed its assertions and resolutions at the meeting with the world’s ‘single superpower’ arouses the admiration of people around the world,” the Rodong said. “This is the historic and great undertaking which can only be carried out by our country, which is the fortress of independence.”
“This is our strategic position and strength of our nation which is achieved through the power of independent politics.”
Monday’s special article was divided into three parts, with section two highlighting the leadership of Kim Jong Un as a “great master of independent politics” committed to the cause of building a powerful socialist country.
The last section called on the North Korean people, from senior officials to workers, to turn out for the “general advance of self-reliance.”
“They should completely put aside foolish fantasies… and wait for sanctions to be released and dependence as well as importation fever,” the Rodong said.
“Ethnic strife has intensified and economic chaos has become more severe in various countries,” it added, warning against “accepting the western model blindly.”
Minyoung Lee, the senior analyst, said the article suggested that North Korea may be preparing its population for further economic hardship as negotiations with the United States continue to stall.
“Today’s EB special article is significant in that it clearly warns the people against trusting outside powers and Western models, and states it will not back away from the path it has chosen,” she said.
“This appears to confirm that North Korea will remain intransigent in its position on DPRK-U.S. nuclear negotiations, and therefore the North is trying to brace the domestic populace for longer-term difficulties.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: DPRK Today