The Boatman’s Silent Dance : KCNA File No. 16
by Roger Cavazos and Evan Koepfler
Evan Koepfler captures the most salient issues in KCNA – pure analytical lodestone. This period, in particular, was key because DPRK seized 28 Chinese fishermen and their four boats on 8 May. News that DPRK had kidnapped civilians from their nominal ally was not publically announced until 16/17 May depending on which side of the International Date Line one sits. The DPRK continued to hold on the hostages until 21/22 May. We have two opportunities to dissect and analyze two vastly different cases to gain insight into DPRK messaging techniques.
Case One: The DPRK knows, but no one else knows they have Chinese hostages. What clues, hints, and shaping does KCNA do during that time? Are there any clues, word choices, Lady MacBeth-like protestations that we can use in the future to predict how the DPRK signals crisis or anger at China?
Case Two: The world knows and KCNA now shifts into full damage control mode, shaping, and communicating. What lessons learned can we draw? What lessons, if any, did DPRK learn from the incident?
Both cases presuppose something very important: KCNA knew what the hell was happening. It’s possible that KCNA had no idea what was going on. If this is the case, we may incorrectly identify indicators that could not have existed since KCNA was never aware that DPRK was holding hostages.
Presumably after the kidnappings were in the international press, KCNA did have knowledge. KCNA’s own reporting indicates they are exposed to international press since they reacted to other real-time events, e.g. the ROK-Japan attempt at signing a military agreement.
An initial re-reading of the record indicates some minor clues prior to official announcement, but nothing that presently stands out as, “Aha. This statement shows they knew.” We are compiling a dossier on the matter, engaging in more rigorous and analytic approaches.
The initial re-readings of the record don’t indicate a sudden shift in KCNA reporting after public knowledge or even after the hostages were repatriated to China. It was a very curious non-event in KCNA.
But without the KCNA digest, we would not have the historical context to makes such observations.
- Roger Cavazos
Categories: SinoNK Material