Unlike the US, which has been vocal about key events leading up to the planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un next week, the North has kept mum about such matters.
Since announcing the June 12 summit between Trump and Kim on May 27, without mentioning that it is taking place in Singapore, North Korea’s state-run news agencies have been silent about the summit and the US-North Korea talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom, Singapore and New York, which opened late last month. Critics expected the North to break the silence when the White House announced the specific venue for the summit on Tuesday, but it remained tight-lipped.
Asked about the North’s lack of response, an official at Seoul’s Ministry of Unification on Thursday said that it believes the North has “a situation of its own,” without elaborating. The official then reiterated that it would be “inappropriate” to discuss North Korea’s intentions.
US President Donald Trump is presented with a letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on June 1, 2018, by North Korean envoy Kim Yong-chol in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC. (Yonhap)
Noting the time frame of the relevant events, analysts say that the North’s silence is mainly due to Kim’s uncertainty about the results of the summit.
“It seems Kim is refraining from making domestic announcements on the summit, due to his uncertainty over the level of security guarantee for the regime and economic compensations the US would provide,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
The US is working toward bringing about the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea, while the North wants a guarantee of security or solid economic benefits, viewing the previous regime collapses of Libya and Iraq as cautionary tales.
The North’s state-media have yet to report on separate meetings between US and North Korean officials that have taken place simultaneously since late last month.
Though Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, wrapped up his four-day trip to the US on Saturday, it is uncertain whether the other two meetings have been finalized. During his US visit, Kim Yong-chol met with Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on separate occasions.
Kim Chang-son, from the North’s State Affairs Commission Secretariat, who led a team of North Korean officials in logistics talks with US counterparts in Singapore, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday. Whether this signals Kim Chang-son’s return to Pyongyang to make an interim report or is an indication that the Singapore channel has completed its mission is uncertain.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported that he may return to Pyongyang to report the result of the working-level negotiations to Kim Jong-un.
Meanwhile, Sung Kim, US ambassador to the Philippines, and Pyongyang’s Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui held their sixth round of talks at the inter-Korean border on Wednesday. Critics view the prolonged talks as another sign that the two sides are facing obstacles in hammering out details on the summit’s agenda items.
The summit is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. (local time) on June 12 at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org