Throwing Away the New Broom: They Said It, But Not to Us.

By | March 09, 2013 | No Comments

Image of a mass rally held in Pyongyang on March 7, 2013 | from Rodong Shinmun

Image of a mass rally held in Pyongyang on March 7, 2013 | Image: Rodong Shinmun

A new BBC piece by Professor John Swenson-Wright of Cambridge University came out on Friday. Searching valiantly for a diplomatic upside to the current peninsular state of affairs, he notes:

Offsetting this pessimistic prognosis is the positive sign that the North has yet to single out the new Seoul administration of President Park Geun-hye for direct rhetorical condemnation.

By contrast, in 2008, when Lee Myung-bak became president, the North was unreservedly condemnatory and critical of the new government.

To be honest, I’d prefer not to be the bearer of bad news when there is already so much of it about. However, in truth the North Korean authorities have already treated at least some of the domestic audience to a dose of colorful language about President Park in weekly People’s Unit (인민반) lectures.

The pertinent report about anti-Park lectures is here:

A source from Hyesan in Yangkang Province told Daily NK today, ‘Lectures were convened shortly after the declaration of ‘preparation for combat mobilization.’ He said that the alliance of imperialists including the UN are sanctioning us to try and crush socialism in the only such country left in the world.’

The source added, ‘He stated that the new Park Geun Hye administration wants to start a war with us, so people from every organ, enterprise and Worker and Peasant Red Guard unit must prepare to meet the threat. He emphasized that the people must be on guard at all times and stay prepared to respond to any provocation.’

For those prone to rejecting such claims on the basis that “it is just a single-source report,” be reassured that it is not just a single-source report.

What Professor Swenson-Wright may have been suggesting is either that the North Korean government has yet to slander Park directly in Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK publication of record, if such a thing can be said to exist, or simply that they have yet to slander her within the hearing range of the wider international community. Alas, however, both are different things entirely.

In a great many ways, the North Korean government and the people it governs are divided, one subordinate to the whim of the other, but in propaganda terms they are not. Thus, the disappointing truth for advocates of launching an immediate dialogue come-what-may is not only that the North might well reject that dialogue anyway, but also that if the authorities are attacking the new South Korean government in civilian lectures then it means they have no more intention of making peace with it than they did with the government of Park’s predecessor, Lee Myung-bak.

Blog by: Christopher Green

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