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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The recent U.S. seizure of a DPRK-flagged ship will not pressure North Korea into “compromise,” an influential Tokyo-based pro-Pyongyang organ stressed on Friday.
The article, carried by the Choson Sinbo — the chief organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) — comes as North Korea has stepped up demands for the U.S. to return the Wise Honest ship, seized earlier in the month.
“The DPRK values the sovereignty of the state and people as life as history proves, and there can be no concession and or compromise to the act of infringing upon it,” the newspaper, which does not serve as an official organ of the DPRK government, said in a Korean language-article.
“The U.S. is playing the dangerous game even before the third DPRK-U.S. summit takes place by creating the cause of confrontation.”
The article, written by journalist Kim Ji Yong, linked the case to the 2005 freezing by the U.S. Treasury Department of North Korean assets at the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia.
“Looking back on history, multilateral diplomacy aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was in peril of collapse as the U.S. imposed unilateral sanctions based on its domestic law,” it said, blaming the seizure for the escalation of tensions that year.
The seizure led to Pyongyang taking a “hard-line policy” and conducting its first nuclear test in October 2006 in response to the U.S.’s “hostile policy, which had become flagrant,” the Choson Sinbo argued.
“The dispossession of the ship is the evidence that the U.S. more steps up the degree of a hostile policy against the DPRK.”
Repeating a statement issued by a spokesperson for the North Korean foreign ministry on May 14, the organ said the seizure of the cargo ship was an “outright denial of the underlying spirit of the June 12 DPRK-U.S. Joint Statement.”
“There are disturbing elements within the U.S. government which are not pleased with the agreement between the DPRK and the U.S. leaders,” it said, pointing to “confusion” in the U.S. in aftermath of President Donald Trump’s surprise decision in March to withdraw new sanctions against the DPRK.
“Even though disturbing elements which planned the dispossession of ‘Wise Honest’ makes an excuse that the seizure and confiscation of the ship is… merely the implementation of ‘enforcement of existing sanctions,’ they cannot hide their intention,” the outlet continued.
The U.S. pushed ahead with the seizure and forfeiture of the DPRK cargo ship “audaciously,” it claimed, by releasing a statement from the Justice Department while “attention was being paid to the U.S. resolute decision to hold the third DPRK-U.S. summit.”
“There is no other way but to consider that it aims to calm the atmosphere of the resumption of dialogue and fabricate a new reason for enmity between the DPRK and the U.S.”
Friday’s commentary comes as Pyongyang has stepped-up protests against the seizure of the impounded DPRK-flagged White Honest ship.
May 14 saw the DPRK’s first response to the seizure, in a statement from its foreign ministry denouncing the U.S. for an “unlawful and outrageous act.”
Just days later, the country’s Permanent Representative to UN Kim Song sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, claiming that unilateral sanctions were “illegal” and ran counter to the UN Charter and international law.
The diplomat also asked the Secretary-General to “take urgent measures as a way of contributing to the stability of the Korean peninsula and proving the impartiality of the UN.”
Kim on Tuesday held a rare press conference at the UN’s headquarters in New York, in which he said the DPRK condemned the dispossession of the cargo ship in the “strongest terms.”
The following day, DPRK ambassador to the UN in Geneva Han Tae Song describing the seizure as the “biggest” source of contention between Pyongyang and Washington at the moment.
“It would be the greatest miscalculation if America thought my country is among the countries where American-style logic of strength or pressure might work,” Han told Reuters.
One expert said the Friday’s coverage in the Choson Sinbo “tracks with North Korea’s low-key handling of the U.S. seizure of the Wise Honest.”
“North Korea thus far has issued only one moderately worded, medium-level Foreign Ministry pronouncement, followed by a flurry of activities by DPRK ambassadors overseas that North Korean media never reported on,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said.
Friday’s article is “nonetheless significant,” she continued, even though the Choson Sinbo is not “technically is not a North Korean media outlet.”
“The outlet has a long history of speaking for the DPRK on thorny foreign policy issues and is thought to have editorial ties to the DPRK,” she said.
“Additionally, commentaries and articles written by Kim Ji Yong, the deputy director of the Choson Sinbo Editorial Bureau, are particularly worth noting, as he tends to write on what appear to be Pyongyang’s position on key foreign policy issues.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: U.S. Department of Justice
The recent U.S. seizure of a DPRK-flagged ship will not pressure North Korea into "compromise," an influential Tokyo-based pro-Pyongyang organ stressed on Friday.
The article, carried by the Choson Sinbo -- the chief organ of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) -- comes as North Korea has stepped up demands for the U.S. to return the Wise Honest ship, seized earlier in the month.