In a commentary published shortly after dictator Kim Jong-un began his travel to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) declared that North Korea had “definitely risen to the position of a world-level politico-ideological and military power.”
The commentary went on to state that the world was ready to celebrate that North Korea “has made a great change in the historic development strategy and has paved groundwork for the Korean peninsula to get rid of the Cold War system that has persisted for more than seven decades.”
North Korea’s induction into the club of world-class military powers allegedly occurred during a meeting Kim held with the senior leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party (WPK) this month, KCNA claims. According to reports in North Korean state media, Kim announced the potential of “U.S. dialogue” at that event and “set forth the WPK’s future policy of international relations and how to respond to them.”
He did not mention that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons or state that he had invited President Donald Trump to meet with him in person. As information is only available through state media in North Korea, North Korean citizens are unaware of these claims, which made headlines elsewhere around the world.
The KCNA commentary this Friday noted that Kim had agreed “to contribute to building a world without nuclear weapons to meet the common desire of humankind.” The outlet warned those who doubted the sincerity of Kim’s regime to stay quiet.
“It is the voice of the world public opinion that as the DPRK took an epoch-making measure, this should naturally be responded with sincerity for the development of the situation, not missing the opportunity,” KCNA argued. “To keep brandishing the rotten ‘sanctions’ stick, not understanding the trend of the times, will only provoke the laughter of the world.”
The commentary specifically condemned the United States.
“What is needed for the U.S. is to learn how to observe good manners and how to respect the party concerned, not resorting to high-handed practices and arrogance.”
The decree that North Korea has now entered the club of “world-level military powers” resembles the claims in the North Korean state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, translated by other Asian media into English this week. The newspaper called North Korea a “legitimate nuclear-armed state” and asserted that, with nuclear weapons on tow, Kim would now pivot the goals of the nation towards “producing coal set forth at the five-year strategy for national economic development with the conviction that we are sure to win when we advance along the road indicated by the Supreme Leader.”
Kim, it continued, had succeeded in “pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force … lashing the whole country into great emotion and joy.”
North Koreans, exposed only to their regime’s version of the story, would reasonably assume that Kim’s meeting with Moon was related to the proclamation that the world could now welcome North Korea as a nuclear state.
KCNA referred to the meeting as “historic” this morning while announcing Kim’s departure south.
“Kim Jong Un will open-heartedly discuss with Moon Jae In all the issues arising in improving inter-Korean relations and achieving peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean peninsula,” KCNA reported. “After the north-south summit meeting and talks, Kim Jong Un will plant a memorial tree with Moon Jae In, make public the results of the historical Panmunjom talks and attend a dinner hosted by Moon Jae In before coming back to Pyongyang.”
At the meeting Friday morning local time, Kim did promise Moon not to hold any more early-morning missile tests, joking, “I will make sure I won’t interrupt your morning sleep anymore.” He also eagerly stated that he would accept an invite to the South Korean presidential palace, the Blue House, if invited.
In a joint statement, the two leaders declared, “Before our people of 80 million and the entire world there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula and a new age of peace has begun.”
Kim did not explicitly provide any guarantees that he would end his nation’s illegal nuclear program indefinitely. Revelations this week suggest that the program may have accidentally ended itself; two separate Chinese research groups conducted studies concluding that Mount Mantap, the site of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, has at least partially collapsed and poses a danger of a radioactive explosion if used for more tests. At less than 100 miles from the Chinese border, a seventh nuclear test at the site could pose significant environmental and health risks for North Korea’s largest ally, China.