Since the emergence of putative successor Kim Jong Eun into the public eye, the North Korean news media — specifically the Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA — has taken pains to publish more content about two things: youth, and the international situation.
What this equates to is an expanded view of what North Koreans are encouraging people to talk about, and how the state frames problems of the day. It also means that there is simply much more content up on the slate-grey KCNA English-language website, and that the content needs to be culled for emerging themes. Thus the present post.
To summarize the significance of the last two weeks of news from North Korea (just in the aftermath of the Jimmy Carter visit to Pyongyang), a few themes bear noting:
- Information about China is handled extremely gingerly in North Korea; on the one hand, the regime wants to make clear that it has positive relations with its orthodox socialist neighbor Beijing (and, implicitly, that material gains will follow this warming trend of the past two years). On the other hand, China is depicted as the source of fake goods, fake news, and people who bow to Kim Il Sung.
- There has been a serious upsurge in news about unmanned aerial drones. Someone in Pyongyang is either legitimately worried about U.S. spying and assassination capabilities, or cognizant that whipping up public anxiety over foreign drones makes for good summer vigilance propaganda, or, more likely, a combination of both.
- North Korean leaders are clearly very anxious about the events in the Middle East, including the Syrian protests and events in Pakistan.
- North Korea continues with its cultural diplomacy, making slight inroads; a new and interesting theme is to stress environmental cooperation with Germans.
Here, then, are the links in question, with some glancing annotations:
North Korea and China
The single most “must-read” KCNA story summarizes an article about US aerial drones in the Sino-North Korean border region. The Huanqiu Shibao is China’s foremost (nationalistic, intensely Party line) foreign affairs daily, and North Korean diplomats and media professionals read it scrupulously. I will endeavor to find the Chinese article in question, but the fact that North Korean propagandists are taking this up is rather noteworthy. When it comes to facing off against American military technology, China and North Korea still present the image of a strong united front. LINK: http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news08/20110508-17ee.html
Staying in the North Korean-Chinese borderlands, North Korea now pledges to turn the Sinuiju side of Yalu into a showcase socialist funland. Given all the attention given lately to foreign investmen in Rason, clear on the other northeastern end of the border with China, we might interpret this as a sign that Sinuiju development, while far slower, is nevertheless on the agenda of the Pyongyang leadership. We will see how this idea moves forward, if at all. LINK: http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news09/20110509-25ee.html
North Korea’s rhetorical committment to economic development in the border region is seen by a very unusual report of an official who is neither Kim Jong Il nor his son following up on a site visit at the Hyesan Youth Mine http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news09/20110509-28ee.html
Although it may appear unrelated, a major article recollects Kim Il Sung’s directions on geology; in my interpretation, such articles give cover to the fact that North Korea is giving major mining contracts to China http://tinyurl.com/3vscpu5
…now, for reasons of time, the annotations get punchier and less grammatically accurate. Enjoy!
North Korean state publishing officials are visiting Beijing http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news14/20110514-31ee.html
An earthquake hits extreme NE edge of North Hamgyong province http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news13/20110513-12ee.html
Interesting timing — Kim Il Sung’s 1993 Works are now off the press. But an important, infrequently asked question is: Will North Korea be able to manipulate Kim Il Sung’s legacy so as to retro-approve of the new China policy?
Dependent on Chinese largess, North Korea is unable to publish much about social problems/dangers in the PRC, but such items are increasing. Thus i It might be argued that North Korea has been far more successful in controlling the popular image of South Korea than that of China. For a North Korean system predicated on the trope of its own unique superiority, Chinese success is almost more dangerous than that of ROK.
Chinese delegation makes “deep bows of reverence” to Kim Il Sung statue: Stories that depict Chinese visitors worshiping Kim Il Sung: about the only way that North Korea can today assert any form of superiority.
More North Korean meetings about tourism cooperation with China http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-29ee.html
North Korean News Items About China
KCNA: “China Intensifies Education of Children” http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news16/20110516-16ee.html
Kim Il Sung University delegation travels to China http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news04/20110504-32ee.html
China as example for North Korea: school anti-drug campaign lauded by KCNA http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news05/20110505-05ee.html
China as a land of Maoist mobilization practices when described by NK http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news09/20110509-14ee.html
A KCNA dispatch implies corruption among Chinese cops http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news12/20110512-11ee.html
North Korean Cultural Diplomacy
Chopinist or isolationist? North Korea is still sending pianists abroad http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news16/20110516-22ee.html
North Korea really believes in a diplomacy of sports teams and orchestras http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news04/20110504-34ee.html
NK high school students perform benefit for Palestinian youth in Pyongyang http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news12/20110512-26ee.html
NK would so love to pry Mongolia away from the ROK but cannot http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news08/20110508-02ee.html
North Korea and the US/Japan
US Navy commissions new carrier: to NK, another sign we’re about to invade http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-08ee.html
Safe to say: we are in for another North Korean anti-Japanese summer http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news06/20110506-16ee.html
Unlike its reports re: Japan, NK media assures no radiation in China http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news04/20110504-16ee.html
KCNA: “Japanese businesses are going bankrupt like flies” http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-10ee.html
North Korea and the Middle East
NATO denies hitting DRPK’s Tripoli embassy, via Xinhua of all agencies http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2011-05/12/c_13872223.htm
Huanqiu blog response supports NK system, wonders how NK will retaliate for NATO Libya damage http://bbs.huanqiu.com/thread-630814-1-1.html
Via Libyan TV: NK embassy damaged in NATO bombing (in English this time) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43002467/ns/world_news-africa
Worried about news already leaking into universities in Pyongyang about the revolutions in the Arab world, NK media is trying hard to give the impression that all is OK in Syria http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news10/20110510-11ee.html
North Korea finally reports on Syrian demonstrations, May 5: of course they are depicted only as anti-US actions http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news05/20110505-08ee.html
KCNA reports on “false reports” from Chinese media http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news05/20110505-33ee.html Does this have a whiff of Jasmine?
Is NK able to attack ROK facilities in Baghdad and Afghanistan? http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/05/17/2011051700584.html
DPRK Foreign Ministry watch: new ambassador to Oman http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-02ee.html
Drone-haters: North Korea excoriates US “murderous atrocities” in Pakistan http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news16/20110516-08ee.html
Must-read KCNA/Huanqiu Shibao on US aerial drones in Sino-NK border region http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news08/20110508-17ee.html
Highly orthodox Minju Chosun report equates Philly handguns with aerial drones http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news10/20110510-18ee.html
North Korean media have been bringing up Pakistan more than usual http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-01ee.html
North Korea and the Environment
North Korea praises itself in the field of green cities http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-20ee.html
According to Good Friends reports, North Korean “greening” projects are onerous for civilians and inspire anti-China rumors.
North Korean “green diplomacy”: Chinese ecologist granted DPRK award http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news17/20110517-28ee.html
A little bit of pro-German, pro-environment sentiment in NK press http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news12/20110512-04ee.html
VERY curious NK report about Korean dams protest in Germany http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news15/20110515-06ee.html Echt?
Kim Jong Il “called for continuously and energetically doing fish farming as a mass movement.” NK waters are already overfished! Jang Song Thaek dutifully listens as Kim Jong Il says NK must “make sure that every place where water is available teems with fish.” (see KCNA, 12 May 2011)
NK looks to increase crab harvest in northeastern seas: Russia not upset? http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news10/20110510-30ee.html
NK media reminding troops and officials not to plunder food from locals http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news05/20110505-24ee.html
The late spring ideological campaigns in North Korea have begun in earnest http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news13/20110513-16ee.html
“…spreading bourgeois ideology, culture and lifestyle…divest man of his soul and body and cause social chaos.” KCNA 13 May ’11
NK notes worldwide food crisis as subtle justification for domestic misery http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news13/20110513-10ee.html
Rodong Sinmun hints that North Korea wants to abrogate its int’l debts http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news12/20110512-13ee.html
Fighting the Obama Effect in NK: Obama as symbol of US “expansionism” http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2011/201105/news12/20110512-20ee.html
Where does France stand at the UN on the nuclear North Korean issue? http://j.mp/fW8u9C