Rodong Sinmun says denuclearization is an “irreversible decision”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un


PYONGYANG, Feb 19, 2019, Rodong Sinmun. North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun said there’s not “any room to turn around or go back” from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “unexpected and groundbreaking decision to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.” This basically emphasizes that the “complete denuclearization” that Kim expressed during three inter-Korean summits and the North Korea-US summit last year and during his 2019 New Year’s address is an “irreversible decision”, reported the Hankyoreh.

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. Though the newspaper had emphasized Kim’s commitment to complete denuclearization by printing the full texts of the Apr. 27 Panmunjom Declaration, the June 12 North Korea-US Summit Statement and the Sept. Pyongyang Joint Declaration, it hadn’t run any articles elaborating on their meaning.

The next question is why the Rodong Sinmun – the official organ of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and as such the most authoritative media in North Korea – would have published such an unprecedented message prior to the second North Korea-US summit. A South Korean senior official in the area of foreign policy and security said on Feb. 17 described the column as being “quite significant.”

A lengthy column titled “General Kim Jong-un’s New History of Peace” that ran on page 5 of the Feb. 13 edition of the Rodong Sinmun compared Kim’s bold decision to denuclearize to “cutting the Gordian knot.” According to the column, the Greek legend about Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian knot represents “a positive view of breaking away from established assumptions.” Kim’s actions, the column asserted, “are a bold new kind of struggle that burns away established assumptions and deep-rooted hostility.”

Unprecedented column confirm Kim’s willingness to completely denuclearize

“The road to peace is full of hardship and challenges and is sometimes accompanied by great sacrifices. It’s a road on which we cannot sit down to rest just because the journey is long and which doesn’t offer any room to turn around or go back just because there are trials and obstacles in the way,” the column emphasized. This language appears aimed at addressing the concerns and grievances of groups in North Korea who object to the fact that the US and UN sanctions are still in place.

The column is attributed not to a regular contributor or reporter at the Rodong Sinmun but rather to “Oh Jin-seo, a Korean-Japanese,” presumably a safety mechanism aimed at lessening the shock that the column’s central message is likely to arouse among the domestic readership. It’s only fitting that the logic employed by a column in a newspaper that’s essential reading for North Koreans is also typically North Korean in style. One of the key arguments is that “the Republic’s war deterrent that struck a balance of power with the US” is “the treasured sword of peace that destroyed with a single blow the vicious cycle of war, conflict, distrust and misunderstanding.” Despite emphasizing the “Republic’s war deterrent,” the column studiously avoided the expression “nuclear deterrent,” in apparent recognition of the outside world’s lack of confidence in Kim’s commitment to denuclearization.

Every article that appears in the Rodong Sinmun is reviewed and approved by the WPK’s Propaganda and Agitation Department. Even though this column is attributed to a Korean-Japanese, therefore, it can be actually regarded as reflecting the viewpoint of the WPK Central Committee, including Kim Jong-un himself.

In a related story, the Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim had paid his respects at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Feb. 16, a North Korean holiday known as the Day of the Shining Star that celebrates the birthday of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Accompanying Kim on his visit were “managers of the WPK Organization and Guidance Department and the WPK Propaganda and Agitation Department,” including WPK Central Committee Vice Chairman Choe Ryong-hae and WPK Central Committee First Vice Director Kim Yo-jong.

By Lee Je-hun, senior staff writer

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