Business as usual in North Korea as public unaware of summit

Business as usual in North Korea as public unaware of summit
The Associated Press

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — With all the international attention focused on Singapore and the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang must be buzzing with excitement, right?

Well, it might be, if anyone knew what was going on.

Instead, it’s like the center of the storm.

With few sources of information other than the state-run media, gossip and word of mouth, most North Koreans are still largely in the dark about the momentous — and potentially life-changing — events that are about to take place outside of their isolated nation.

The official media has reported that the two leaders plan to meet, but has offered few specifics, including where and when. There was no official word that Kim had left the country Sunday and arrived in Singapore, hours before Trump.

The top news lately has instead been tremendously mundane, all things considered — a visit by Kim to a seafood restaurant in Pyongyang.

Word does get around, however, and it is quite likely that the prospect of a meeting between Kim and Trump is on the public’s radar. The meeting could have a major and direct impact on their daily lives, so it is only natural that people would want to know. But without a robust and independent media, accurate news is less likely and exaggeration and gossip probably abound.

If it follows the usual routine, state media will probably wait until the event is over before it puts out its first reports. News that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea was front page news with a big photo of him shaking Kim’s hand the following day in the ruling party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.

But then again, nothing about this summit is routine.

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