SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sudden overtures to Washington are making headlines around the world. Almost everywhere, it seems, except North Korea.
North Korean media noted a visit by a senior delegation from South Korea earlier this week but it appeared to have had no major coverage of Kim’s invitation to meet U.S. President Donald Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in to discuss the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
South Korea’s National Security Office head Chung Eui-yong told reporters at the White House on Thursday after briefing Trump that Kim had “committed to denuclearization” and to suspending nuclear and missile tests.
However, North Koreans appear to still be in the dark despite such a potentially historic achievement.
Kim’s meeting with South Korean officials made it onto the front page of the Rodong Sinmun, a leading state-run newspaper, but neither his policy concessions, as described by the South Korean government, nor his planned summit with Moon in April appeared to have been reported publicly in the secretive North.
“North Korea has not made an announcement on the two Koreas holding the summit in April yet,” said Kang Mi-jin, a North Korean defector who works at the Seoul-based Daily NK website and regularly speaks to sources in the North.
“I believe such a decision is only handled by high-ranking officials close to Kim Jong Un. I do not think regular government/military officials are aware of the summit meeting yet,” Kang said.
While trumpeting the thaw in relations between North and South Korea, North Korean media outlets have continued to criticize the United States, especially over joint military drills it plans to conduct with South Korean troops at the end of the month.
“In North Korea, the leadership won’t decide to release it to the media until they know for sure the summits are happening,” said Shin Beom-chul, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul.
“There has to be an agreement within the North’s inner circle about this. There’s no reason why it should promise denuclearization of North Korea to its people right now when there is a possibility of things falling apart,” Shin said.