Un Ha 3, We Barely Knew Ye: KCNA File No. 15
In response to the seemingly endless slavos of news reports, scattered op-eds (see Jennifer Lind or Choe Sang Hun, for two good examples) and even SinoNK’s own analysis regarding the recent (failed) satellite missile launch, readers may be left wondering: what more could possibly be said about the event that doesn’t point out something left entirely out of the pre-launch predictions or post-launch analysis? Was a special encoded message engraved on the base of the rocket revealing the whereabouts of secret underground uranium enrichment facilities? Or, still in-jest but certainly more believable, was it actually Kim Jong Un’s aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, who, by exploiting her powers as daughter to the “eternal leader” of North Korea, first undermined the Feb. 29 agreement and then arranged the launching of the satellite missile? KCNA File No. 15 doesn’t answer either one of these questions, but it does provide readers with stories coming directly from North Korea about Koreans in China defending the launch as a testament to the “might of the DPRK,” in addition to revealing North Korea’s insistence (or was it obstinance?) that the satellite missile launch was being undertaken for the sole purpose of peaceful space development — what more would a country be doing by sending up an innocuous satellite? These stories and more in KCNA FIle No. 15. – S.C. Denney, Assistant Editor
Un Ha 3, We Barely Knew Ye: KCNA File No. 15 (March 18 – March 24, 2012)
by Adam Cathcart and Evan Koepfler
Given the amount of international pressure and attention focusing this week on North Korea for its announced missile launch, KCNA’s discussion of China’s attitude toward the whole affair is of particular interest.
This week saw the KCNA coming out with what appears to be a completely false rendering of a Cankao Xiaoxi (参考消息/Reference News) article and a highly misleading, if not completely disingenuous, reading of a Huanqiu Shibao (环球时报/Global Times) editorial about the missile which implied that the DPRK had China’s support for the launch. Neither of the two Chinese papers cited are marginal rags; in fact, they are the most prevalent daily papers in China dealing with foreign affairs. KCNA will often read these papers in search of pro-North Korea arguments, but it does not appear in the past to have simply made them up.
In addition to its (presumably) purposeful misreading of the Chinese press, the KCNA again employed stories of Koreans in China coming out in force to support the DPRK and its goals of defaming both Lee Myung Bak and defending the launch of their satellite. Two stories were published this week again vowing to punish the Lee group and its conspirators. One of these further discussed the recent “escalations” of the conflict by the Lee group, saying that, “Kim Kwan Jin, puppet minister of defense, [is] the mastermind of the most hideous provocations, of desperately crying out for ‘punishment’ on Yonphyong Island, while asserting ‘the north will surely provoke.’”
Two stories were also published this week defending the launch of the DPRK’s satellite. One of these stories was again a statement from Koreans in China who touted the honor and glory that the launch brings to the memory of Kim Jong Il. The article goes on to discuss the claims of South Korean leaders that the launch is just a “disguised missile test” to which the people responded “such a remark can only be made by those who fear the might of the DPRK.” Lacking a strong Chinese government defense of the launch, KCNA resorts to placing the words in the mouths of Koreans in China.
Furthermore, a story derived from China’s Huanqiu Shibao also defends the launch saying that the world should give the DPRK a chance to “show its sincerity.” The article also mentions the fact that the DPRK has invited foreign experts to the launch site to indeed confirm that it is indeed an innocuous satellite and not something more sinister. This launch is the central issue that led to the damaged peace talks between the DPRK and United States who claimed that the launch was a thinly veiled test of North Korean rocket technology. The actual Huanqiu article was in fact titled “Pressuring North Korea is Hard, because Pressuring US-ROK-Japan is also Hard” and included multiple critiques of the DPRK.
The single story published this week cited China’s endorsement of North Korea’s alleged economic achievements. The KCNA recollection of the Cankao Xiaoxi spent a majority of its time recounting the various parks and statues built in honor of the centenary birth of Kim Il Sung. The article noted that the Chinese press was in awe of the fact that, in terms of economics, “Everything in the DPRK is now oriented to the commemorations of the centenary of birth of the President.” While it is possible that the KCNA simply got the date wrong, the only article about North Korea in the March 14 print issue of the Cankao Xiaoxi is in fact a roundup of international criticism of the DPRK for its missile launch, and the only online article that could be found, by Zhang Li, simply notes that North Korea has not completely closed down for business since Kim Jong Il’s death and has made some positive steps with SEZ laws. That North Korea would take a story about economic development and turn it into a Chinese celebration of monuments to the Kim family in Pyongyang is curious indeed.
Finally, one story was published that returned to an old theme, that being increased cooperation of China on the world stage, detailing the recent cooperation between China and Albania in terms of politics, economy, culture, education. Whether or not the North Korean press is “learning the lesson” from China’s development and relatively-more-standard press is another question entirely.