North Korea’s government-owned Rodong Sinmun newspaper has run a propaganda piece for the apparent purpose of selling denuclearization to the North Korean people as leader Kim Jong-un departs for Vietnam to hold his second summit with U.S. president Donald Trump.
The editorial, published on Feb. 13, said that while “the road to peace is hard, and sometimes accompanied by great sacrifices,” the country “cannot rest just because the road ahead is too long, and we can’t turn around or retreat just because of trials and obstacles blocking it.”
In the text, the terms “peace” or “peaceful” appeared 70 times, according to The Epoch Times. The second Kim-Trump summit is planned to be held on Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
North Korea, an impoverished communist state, has spent over two decades developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to blanket international condemnation. The North Korean regime weathered sanctions and diplomatic pressure to strengthen its arsenal, but since last year, has been shifting its stance.
According to the Rodong Sinnum piece, written bombastically in keeping with the cult of personality that the ruling Korean Workers Party has built around its leaders, Kim had “made a serious decision that goes beyond imagination” and a “great strategic choice to tame the war with love.”
“The power of infinite love that sprang from [Kim’s] heart was transcending dozens of hydrogen [bombs],” according to the Rodong Sinmun.
North Korea is situated at a geographic crossroads between powerful and affluent neighbors, including China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan, but for ideological reasons has kept a tight lid on outside contact or liberalization of its Soviet-style command economy that is largely dependent on Chinese aid for continued survival. In the 1990s, millions of North Koreans starved to death due to mismanagement and natural disaster.
On April 27 last year, Kim had pledged that his country would implement complete denuclearization, a statement that was accompanied by shifts in North Korea’s state propaganda. Reports began to emphasize economic development; in his New Year speech made going into 2019, Kim himself swapped his usual military garb for a business suit.
“This is the first time the Rodong Sinmun has run a story explaining the significance and background of the ‘complete denuclearization’ that Kim has repeatedly promised,” the South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh stated in a Feb. 18 report.
Despite high regional tensions in 2016 and 2017 that saw dozens of North Korean ballistic missile test launches and the detonation of the country’s most powerful nuclear warhead, relations between North Korea, the United States, and its neighbors have been warming.
In March 2018, Kim Jong-un made his first trip as head of state out of North Korean territory, visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. Over the course of the year, he met thrice with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and held a summit in Singapore with President Trump in June.
Trump had announced the date of the second summit with Kim in his Feb. 5 State of the Union Address. International sanctions on North Korea will remain in place until more concrete progress is made on denuclearization, the U.S. president said.