Pyongyang will “not waste time” on U.S.-DPRK diplomacy, an influential pro-North Korean outlet said Tuesday, despite what it described as the “supremely precious” personal relations between leaders Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
The article, carried by the Choson Sinbo — the official organ of the Japan-based pro-North Chongryon group — came in response to a statement by top DPRK official Kim Yo Jong over the weekend, in which she confirmed that the U.S. President had recently sent a letter to the North Korean leader.
“In my personal opinion, even if [Kim Jong Un] has good feelings about President Trump, it is not more than literally ‘personal’ emotion,” wrote journalist Kim Ji Yong, arguing that Kim Jong Un is “someone who represents the country and speaks for the interests of the people. Personal feelings will not be the basis for discussing state affairs.”
Tuesday’s article particularly focused on the paragraph in Kim Yo Jong’s Sunday statement in which she said that “relations between the DPRK and the U.S. and their development should not be judged in haste in the light of the personal relations between the two top leaders.”
This effort to draw a distinction between diplomacy and the friendship between the two leaders echoes remarks by DPRK foreign ministry advisor Kim Kye Gwan in January, in which he said that such relations are “in the true sense of the word, ‘personal’.”
Tuesday’s article also reiterated the policy line set at December’s party plenary late last year, underlining that the North’s stance on diplomacy with the U.S. had already been decided at that meeting.
The DPRK, it said, will not wait for sanctions relief, and that “the development of… strategic weapons for the security of the country will be incessantly progressed non-stop” until the U.S.’s “hostile policy” is withdrawn.
The Choson Sinbo on Tuesday linked North Korea’s “tactical guided weapon” test on Saturday to the country’s “decided stance” on diplomacy, noting that Kim Jong Un led the test just a day before Trump’s letter was revealed to the public.
“In reality, DPRK’s work to guarantee the country’s grand head-on breakthrough battle politically, diplomatically, and militarily are being pushed ahead diligently according to the decided schedule and timeline,” it said, citing the recent missile test as an example.
Meanwhile, the Choson Sinbo article also lauded the good personal ties between Trump and Kim as a “supremely precious political asset,” while also recalling Trump’s birthday greetings to the North Korean leader earlier this year.
“It is the second time this year that the DPRK gas made public the fact that President Trump sent a letter to Kim Jong Un,” it said.
Trump “sending a letter again, to the [North Korean] leader whom he met in Singapore, Hanoi of Vietnam, and Panmunjom, shows that he is making an effort to sustain the great relationship he had with” Kim Jong Un, according to Kim Ji Yong’s analysis.
However, while positively assessing the personal ties, the Choson Sinbo article underscored that the 2019 Hanoi Summit proved fruitless and that the U.S. had made “unilateral requests” to Pyongyang concerning denuclearization.
“The DPRK side… made its stance public that it will wait until the year’s end with patience, with the need for the U.S. to… approach with a different calculation method,” it said. “However, the U.S. ultimately did not follow the deadline.”
In a section titled “Walking its own way, not wasting time,” Kim Ji Yong stressed that the U.S. does not appear ready for dialogue.
“This year, U.S. foreign affairs officials are repeatedly urging the DPRK to return to negotiations, but the U.S. continues its double-sidedness, touting dialogue but at the same time more conspicuously choking and crushing the DPRK with provocative political, military, and economic plots.”
Dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang “can only be possible under the condition that the U.S. takes an actual measure to completely and irreversibly withdraw hostile policy impeding the DPRK people’s right to life and development,” it said.
“However, the prospect currently suggested domestically in the DPRK is that ‘the U.S. is not ready for and is not capable of this,'” wrote Kim Ji Yong, quoting Kim Kye Gwan’s January remarks.
“The solution drawn from this is to only follow the way one has decided on, advance it with wider steps, not wasting time being deceived by the U.S. like in the past,” the article said.
“Like first vice department director Kim Yo Jong said… amid the long-term DPRK-U.S. impasse, the DPRK will keep changing to be more powerful without futilely losing or wasting time.”
Kim Yo Jong’s press statement and Kim Ji Young’s analysis are “consistent with Kim Jong Un’s December party plenum speech,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro.
Kim Ji Yong’s analysis for Choson Sinbo is notable, she said, in that he “often provides insight into North Korea’s position on key foreign policy issues.” Kim is known to have written a similarly diplomacy-related article on the North’s “new path” in November last year.
“Kim Ji Yong’s analysis of Kim Yo Jong’s press statement confirms that strong personal ties between Kim and Trump will not dictate North Korea’s U.S. policy, that North Korea remains skeptical about the prospects of improved U.S.-DPRK ties, and therefore it will forge ahead with its own agenda, including strategic weapons development,” Lee said.
Edited by James Fretwell and Oliver Hotham