About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
The test-launch of the newly-developed Pukguksong-3 dealt a “powerful blow to hostile forces” and is the “solemn statement” of the Korean people, the North Korean party daily said on Friday, emphasizing that the test came at a crucial time.
The authoritative Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), featured a political essay (Jongron) playing up Wednesday’s test-firing of what has been described by North Korean media as a “new-type” submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
In the political essay, the party daily said the country “has been successively producing Juche weapons” for around 70 days, referring to the construction of the newly-built submarine on July 22 to Wednesday’s successful test-firing of the Pukguksong-3.
“This high-speed development and creativity is truly a miracle of miracles, which has no parallel in the world’s history of weapons as well as our own history of national defense construction.”
Highlighting the significance of the test-firing, the party daily noted that North Korea is at a “critical juncture, where general trends can be shaken in a single step, and victory or defeat can be decided in a moment.”
“At this critical juncture, the majestic explosive sound of our ‘Pukguksong-3,’ [the success of which] is the victory of the century for our great Workers’ Party of Korea and the Korean people, is another powerful blow to hostile forces,” the Rodong Sinmun said.
“Our Pukguksong is a mighty statement from the great Korean people to the entire world, not simply the ostentation of a strategic weapon.”
The weapon is the “Korean people’s solemn statement and the voice of Korea to autocratic reactionary groups attempting to set back and stop the flow of history.”
The North Korean party daily added that the “path to self-reliance is an immutable course, and any forces blocking the path will not be able to avoid collapse.”
“Our strength will be incessantly amplified a hundred and a thousand times until it reaches the height that our Party demands, and we will have no momentary hesitation or pause in the steady upward trend of our dauntless and brave advance.”
Although “countless difficulties and ordeals” lie ahead for the North, the Rodong Sinmun said the North Korean people’s “faith in their rightfulness and final victory is more unyielding than ever.”
“[Our] confidence and scientific conviction are tens of millions of times stronger than the crushing offensive being carried out by imperialist powers,” it said.
“Hostile forces are waiting, moment by moment, for our beliefs to falter and for our strength to be exhausted, and are tenaciously praying that we will be frustrated and destroyed.”
In the political essay, the North Korean party daily hailed the “stout-hearted and heroic leadership” of Kim Jong Un that “surpasses all understanding.”
Kim reportedly said the fact that the country can launch a “ballistic missile from a DPRK-style strategic submarine is a no less a phenomenal achievement than the launch of an artificial earth satellite.”
The newspaper credited the North Korean leader’s “days and months of unimaginable and painstaking dedication” for making “this time bomb, hanging behind the backs of hostile forces, the most fearsome dagger in the destruction of our enemy.”
The Rodong Simun said Kim “has been constantly and unhesitatingly opening the difficult first journey of bolstering national defense capabilities for the dignity and power of the people and the happiness of all generations.”
The party daily also echoed Kim’s gratitude toward defense scientists and workers in the munitions industry, describing them as “resolute human bomb warriors… who engaged in an invisible death-defying battle to elevate the country and its great people to the most powerful position in the world.”
PLAYING UP PUKGUKSONG-3 SLBM TEST-FIRING
The Rodong Sinmun and the Minju Joson, the official paper of the Cabinet and the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), also carried various responses on Wednesday’s successful SLBM test.
In a commentary written by O Pyong Suk on its second page, the Minju Joson said the successful test-firing of the Pukguksong-3 is “vigorously driving people of the entire country toward miraculous and great achievement, powerfully inciting them.”
“The spirit of Juche Korea, which is moving forward unshakably along the path of victory, demonstrating unlimited and mighty national power even under unimaginable pressures, is being displayed with vigor,” the Minju Joson said, while also hailing Kim Jong Un’s leadership in the development of the “strategic weapons.”
One North Korea media expert said “state media’s high-profile handling of the Pukguksong-3, and the language used in the reports, seem to indicate Pyongyang’s intent to continue to strengthen its defense capabilities.”
“First, this is the first time since the Hwasong-15 ICBM launch in November 2017 that the North Korean dailies published commemorative articles and reactions to celebrate a weapon launch,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News’s sister site NK Pro, said.
“The publication of a political essay on the front page of the party daily, in particular, is extremely unusual. Political essays are authoritative and highly literary pieces that propagandize key political or ideological issues, and they are typically carried on page 2 of the party daily,” she continued.
“Party daily editorials are also authoritative but they are more straight-forward documents on party intentions and policies. The daily may have published a political essay to signal party intent to keep strengthening national defense capabilities without going so far as to explicitly state it as party intent in an editorial, probably in consideration of the upcoming DPRK-U.S. talks.”
Lee also pointed out the Rodong Sinmun “recycled a Kim Jong Un quote from the days of byungjin” on the front page.
The party daily, she continued, carried the quote: “Strengthening national defense capabilities is the top national affair of national affairs, and the fatherland’s dignity and the people’s happiness and peace lie in a strong gun barrel.”
“This passage, which originally appeared in Kim Jong Un’s 2014 New Year’s speech, last appeared in North Korean domestic print media in January 2018, before North Korea shifted from byungjin to an economy-focused policy in April 2018.”
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: KCNA