For the first time since dictator Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump agreed to an unprecedented in-person meeting, North Korea’s state media – the only media available to North Korean citizens – reported on Kim’s ongoing diplomacy with the United States on Thursday.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a story Thursday reporting that Kim Jong-un greeted Pompeo on his second trip to North Korea this week “warmly” and “sincerely congratulated him on his recent official assumption as secretary of State” (Pompeo’s first visit to North Korea occurred before his confirmation by the Senate).
Kim “exchanged with Mike Pompeo the appraisal and view on the acute situation of the Korean peninsula, which is now a pressing matter of the whole world’s concern, and the stance and opinions of the supreme leaderships of the DPRK and the U.S. on their summit,” KCNA reported.
The report added that Kim heralded a meeting with Trump as “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 also reported that Kim personally ordered the granting of legal amnesty to American citizens Kim Hak Song, Kim Dong Cul, and Kim Sang-Duk in front of Pompeo, who flew home with the three men overnight Wednesday and landed in Maryland early Thursday morning.
President Trump greeted the three men and Pompeo at Andrews Airforce Base around 2 a.m. Eastern time, telling reporters, “Frankly, we didn’t think this was going to happen.”
The three men issued a statement thanking “God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.”
The South Korean news agency Yonhap noted on Thursday that North Korean has never before released prisoners “in accordance with amnesty procedures,” instead providing excuses like the need to expel criminal foreigners or release them on “humanitarian” grounds, as in the case of late hostage Otto Warmbier.
In addition to breaking the news to North Koreans that all known American hostages in the country are now free, KCNA also reported that Pompeo was cordial and friendly to Kim. “Mike Pompeo expressed thanks to Kim Jong-un, saying that they are heartily grateful to him for the cordial hospitality accorded to them during their visit to Pyongyang and for the very beneficial talks which reached a full agreement,” KCNA claimed.
Kim reportedly promised Pompeo that “they will meet again.”
Thursday’s KCNA article represents a sharp reversal in language about the United States in both KCNA and the state newspaper Rodong Sinmun. As recently as February, Rodong Sinmun published a diatribe against President Trump demanding he “urgently be sent to a lunatics asylum” due to his “nasty smell” and “hysteric fit of a lunatic against the DPRK [sic].”
A few months earlier, in November, Rodong Sinmun declared that the North Korean people had “sentenced to death” Trump for “blasphemy” against the Kim dynasty. Trump had joked that Kim was “short and fat” on Twitter.
The day after South Korean officials announced that Trump and Kim had agreed to meet in person, North Korean outlets variously described the United States as “wicked,” its politicians as “stooges,” and Trump himself as a “terrible disaster” for the country if he continued to enforce sanctions on Pyongyang.
KCNA and Rodong Sinmun in particular have refrained from outbursts against America since those published immediately after the March announcement of the unprecedented meeting and pivoted their vitriol towards the “half-witted” Japanese.
Trump and Kim are expected to meet in Singapore, according to several unidentified sources in multiple news outlets, in early June. Agreeing to an end to North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons program is high atop the list of priorities for the two leaders, as well as establishing peace between the two countries (the Korean War never technically ended) and, for Kim, convincing Trump to lift crippling international sanctions on his economy. Human rights have not surfaced as a topic of discussion among reports of what the two will address.