North Korea’s state newspaper Rodong Sinmun published a screed Friday condemning the “vain ambition and prejudice” of the leftist government of South Korea, just as President Moon Jae-in announces a trip to Pyongyang.
Moon’s government has taken a conciliary stance towards the North, and Moon himself is the first South Korean leader in history to step foot in the country and meet any of its dictators. Moon has met with communist leader Kim Jong-un twice since the spring, both times in the border town of Panmunjom.
According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, Moon is expected to visit Pyongyang in August, the first South Korean leader to do so.
Rodong Sinmun, which is directly controlled by the highest levels of power in Pyongyang, suggested that relations between the two countries are not thawing as quickly as Seoul may have suggested. The newspaper expressed particular outrage against the South for allegedly attempting to portray itself as the leading diplomatic partner between the two.
“They talked such nonsense that they created an atmosphere of the international support for the settlement of ‘the north’s nuclear issue’ through an array of diplomatic steps with neighboring countries,” Rodong Sinmun said. “Not content with it, they went the lengths of making impudent remarks that unless the DPRK and the U.S. keep the promise they made before the international community, they ‘would severely be tried.'”
“It is a principle clear from the past history that south [North Korea does not capitalize ‘South’ to emphasize that it does not recognize the nation’s sovereignty] Korea fails to play the role of even an assistant, to say nothing of the ‘driver,'” the newspaper continued, “as it is caught in the evil cycle in which it has to flatter the one only to see the other repelling and in which it has to see the other interfere after it submits to the one.”
Any credit going to South Korea for dialogue with the north occurring in any manner is a “misrepresentation of facts,” the article concluded, warning Moon’s government “must not run amuck at such an important time as now, being hell-bent on meeting their political interests and maintaining their face.”
The condemnation comes as Chosun Ilbo cites government sources who say Moon Jae-in will visit Pyongyang in August. A meeting of high-level South Korean officials occurred on Thursday, the newspaper alleges, to plan for tha trip, and an unnamed source confirmed, “It’s possible that he will visit Pyongyang in late August.”
Moon has repeatedly insisted that negotiations to ease ties between the two countries are moving in a favorable direction, even though North Korea continues to refuse to acknowledge South Korea as a country, instead identifying it as a rogue province colonized by America.
“No one can be optimistic about the results, but my cautious outlook is that the negotiations would be able to succeed if the North carries out a complete denuclearization, and the international community gathers efforts to provide security guarantees to the North,” Moon said in mid-July.
The Kim regime has refused to define “denuclearization,” however, leaving many questions open regarding how a denuclearization process could rightfully occur.
During the era of Moon’s predecessor, Park Geun-hye, such reprimands against Seoul were common. The most egregious example of these screeds was a three-part series Rodong Sinmun published in April 2014 titled “We Accuse Park the Bitch,” in which the newspaper referred to Park as a “witch full of hate” and “old cat groaning in her sickbed.” The tenor of North Korean state media changed dramatically after Moon took over and invited the North Koreans to attend the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, at the expense of the South Korean taxpayer. As the South Korean news agency Yonhap notes, it is now “rare for the North Korean media to directly criticize the South Korean president since the two Koreas held a summit in April and agreed to halt hostile acts against each other.”
Yonhap, citing unnamed experts, posits that the attack “might reflect growing jitters inside the North about the slower-than-expected pace in the advancement of inter-Korean relations and economic cooperation.” North Korea has particularly expressed frustration at the fact that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump insists on keeping sanctions imposed on North Korea that have significantly damaged the communist nation’s economy, even as North Korea continues to violate them, reportedly with China’s help, but no support for South Korea.
A report this week revealed that South Korean authorities are working to impose the sanctions by capturing smuggled North Korean merchandise. Authorities revealed that they have reason to suspect that, with China’s help, up to 9,000 tons of illegal North Korean coal has made it into the country, netting Pyongyang at least $325,000. A report by the UN North Korea Sanctions Committee also found that China received at least five shipments of North Korean coal last year, and that Russian ships have also been involved in smuggling the merchandise at the high seas.
China’s Foreign Ministry has denied violating sanctions.