North Korea’s state media – the only means North Korean people have of learning about the outside world – mentioned the scheduled summit between President Donald Trump and dictator Kim Jong-un in a report Friday, one of the few confirmations North Koreans know the summit is happening.
North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun gave the summit a full front page report when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Pyongyang in May but has since mostly refrained from mentioning that it was occurring. The Pompeo coverage was also believed to be the first time the June 12 date appeared in North Korean media.
That coverage also described the summit as an “excellent first step toward promotion of the positive situation development in the Korean peninsula.”
On Friday, North Koreans read in a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report that the foreign minister of Singapore, Vivian Balakrishnan, visited Pyongyang to share “in-depth views on further developing the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries” with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho.
The report mentioned that the two discussed “the situation ahead of the DPRK-U.S. summit” without elaborating.
“North Korea’s state media kept quiet in the last couple of days about the time and date of the June 12 summit with the U.S.,” the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo noted on Thursday, before the KCNA report surfaced. “Instead, they claimed that South Koreans are hailing their leader Kim Jong-un as ‘a leader worthy of praise as the pride of all the Korean people.'”
State media did not mention that Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean diplomat and U.S. “specially designated” terrorist, visited President Trump personally to deliver a letter to the White House last week, Chosun Ilbo reported.
The summit did receive at least one other mention in KCNA this week: a passing note in a belligerent piece warning the Japanese government to stop trying to influence the United States. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the White House on Thursday and urged President Trump to discuss the hundreds of Japanese citizens Tokyo has reason to believe were abducted by North Korea and remain missing. North Korea has admitted to kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens.
“There is a beautiful port town, Niigata, facing the Sea of Japan. A mere 13-year-old girl living there was abducted by North Korea,” Abe recalled at the White House Thursday. “It is the long-held desire of the Japanese people to have her and all of the abductees come home so that the parents, while they are healthy, can embrace the girl and other abductees again in their arms.”
“On behalf of the citizens of Japan, I would like to thank President Trump and the people of the United States for their understanding and support toward the resolution of the abduction issue,” Abe said.
“The Abe group of Japan including Foreign Minister Kono are getting vocal about ‘maintenance of constant pressure of the international community on north Korea’ and ‘abduction issue’ here and there,” Rodong Sinmun relayed dismissively on Wednesday before Abe made his statements in Washington. Rodong complained that bringing up these human rights abuses was “unbecoming behavior” that allegedly revealed that Tokyo was “desperately trying to get rid of the ‘exclusion of Japan’ ahead of the DPRK-U.S. summit.”
The tone against Japan more accurately recalls how North Korean state media has typically treated the United States. Vitriol against the Trump administration peaked in 2017, a year that saw North Korea test two nuclear bombs.
“Trump, who is no more than an old slave of money, dared point an accusing finger at the sun,” Rodong Sinmun said of Trump in November. “He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people.”
That same month, Uriminzokkiri, another state publication, called for the American people to “eliminate” Trump.
“The U.S. must oust the lunatic old man from power and withdraw the hostile policy towards the DPRK at once in order to get rid of the abyss of doom,” the outlet ordered. “The world is undergoing unprecedented throes because of Trump, a notorious ‘political heretic.'”
Trump responded to the insults and threats with mockery.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?'” Trump asked on Twitter. “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”