North Korean state media quoted dictator Kim Jong-un as stating in talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday that his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump would be an “excellent first step toward promotion of the positive situation development in the Korean peninsula,” the first mention of the meeting in state media.
Prior to the publication of this report on Thursday, North Korean media had not mentioned that Kim had scheduled a meeting with Trump. North Korean government news sources are the only ones available to North Korean citizens.
North Korean media did not report Pompeo’s first trip to North Korea last month. The closest the media there has come to mentioning the meeting is quoting Kim himself addressing the possibility of “diplomacy” with the United States, without any specifics.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim on Thursday as discussing the summit with Pompeo, who traveled to Pyongyang in part to confirm the logistics of the meeting.
“He [Kim] said that the coming DPRK-U.S. summit would be a historic meeting for the excellent first step toward promotion of the positive situation development in the Korean peninsula and building of a good future,” KCNA reported, according to South Korean news service Yonhap. Kim reportedly “reached a satisfactory consensus on the issues discussed” with Pompeo.
Kim warned, however, that any success in diplomacy was “not a result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside,” a recurring theme even in the newly positive coverage of America in North Korean media.
In addition to the KCNA coverage, Yonhap notes that state newspaper Rodong Sinmun dedicated its front page to Pompeo’s visit and state television broadcast a seven-minute report detailing the outcome of the meeting. The television broadcast also mentioned meeting with Trump, another first.
Trump announced early on Thursday that the meeting with Kim would occur on June 12 in Singapore, an island nation neutral to both parties.
The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2018
In an editorial, KCNA applauded Trump for having “welcomed” the meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the first such meeting between leaders of North and South Korea, on April 27. Peace between the Koreas, KCNA argued, meets “the interests of the U.S.” and that America “should bear in mind that it will confirm [sic] to the demand of the world community and to its own interests to show etiquette and sincerity to its dialogue partner.”
The commentary goes out of its way to argue that international sanctions on the North Korean economy were not responsible for any pivot that Kim may have taken in his foreign policy. Under Trump, the United States led a campaign at the United Nations to impose unprecedented levels of sanctions on North Korea, and managed to get the sanctions passed by securing the support of North Korea’s closest ally, China. Multiple reports citing sources within North Korea confirm that the sanctions have had a devastating effect on the impoverished communist economy of the country, yet KCNA insists otherwise.
“The inter-Korean summit and declaration welcomed by the world are the priceless fruition of the DPRK’s policy of defending peace,” KCNA insisted this week. “This being a hard reality, such nonsense as ‘result of maximum pressure’ and ‘option chosen at the limit’ is heard from within the U.S. administration.”
“Such rude remarks may reverse the situation in the peninsula to the original one,” KCNA warned.
Despite celebrating Trump for supporting peace talks between North and South Korea, other outlets in North Korea adopted the familiar tenor against America that concluded the KCNA piece.
Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean magazine, citing Rodong Sinmun, accused American officials of “playing down the historic significance of the inter-Korean summit at Panmunjom” on Thursday. Support for sanctions on North Korea “is a stupid behavior just like a saying that curses, like chickens, come home to roost,” it continued.
Anyone who supports sanctions on North Korea will “meet failure and disgrace only,” the piece asserts.
On the flight to North Korea, Pompeo said that the Trump administration had no plans to scrap sanctions against arguably the world’s most brazen human rights violator.
“We’re not going to relieve sanctions until such time as we achieved our objectives,” he told reporters. “We are not going to do this in small increments, where the world is essentially coerced into relieving economic pressure.”