North Korea media revels in DMZ summit

Photos of Trump-Kim handshake and glowing coverage of meeting dominate country's newspapers

SEOUL • North Korean state media released gushing reports of its leader Kim Jong Un's Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) summit with US President Donald Trump, as the regime sought to use another history-making meeting with the US leader to validate its policy decisions.

The front page of North Korean ruling party's Rodong Sinmun newspaper was dominated by a seven-photo splash of Mr Trump making the first crossing of any sitting US president into North Korea, while the country's main news agency KCNA said the meeting marked a "dramatic turn" of events.

Mr Kim has not been able to win relief from sanctions choking his country's economy after starting the historic meeting with Mr Trump last year in Singapore.

At their hour-long DMZ summit on Sunday, Mr Kim and Mr Trump agreed to resume talks, and said working-level officials from the two countries will soon start discussions on the details of a nuclear disarmament deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters shortly before departing South Korea that a new round of talks would likely happen "sometime in July" and the North's negotiators would be foreign ministry diplomats.

In a photo released by KCNA yesterday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Mr Pompeo are shown sitting next to Mr Kim and Mr Trump respectively in Freedom House, the building in which the two leaders had their talks.

KCNA said that during their chat, Mr Trump and Mr Kim explained "issues of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula", "issues of mutual concern and interest which become a stumbling block in solving those issues", and "voiced full understanding and sympathy".


A photo from KCNA showing North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sitting next to the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump respectively in Freedom House at the DMZ, where the two leaders had their talks on Sunday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mr Kim said it was the good personal relationship he had with Mr Trump that made such a dramatic meeting possible at just one day's notice and that the relationship with Mr Trump would continue to produce good results, according to KCNA.

 
 
 
 

The "bold, brave decision" by the two leaders that led to the historic meeting "created unprecedented trust between the two countries" that had been tangled in deeply rooted animosity, KCNA said.

The coverage was far more robust than state media's reporting on the collapsed summit between Mr Kim and Mr Trump in February in Hanoi, where it glossed over Mr Trump calling off the talks and complaining that Mr Kim asked for too much in sanctions relief while providing too little disarmament to justify the reward.

Rodong Sinmun, the country's most prominent newspaper, ran photos of the two leaders taking their historic walk and holding talks over the first three pages, but South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was also on hand to share moments with Mr Trump and Mr Kim, was conspicuously absent in the image collage.

China yesterday hailed the "great significance" of the weekend meeting between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, and urged all sides to "seize the opportunity" to make progress towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

"In particular, the DPRK (North Korea) and the United States agreed to resume working level consultations soon, which is of great significance. China supports this," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

Mr Geng noted that Chinese President Xi Jinping's recent visit to Pyongyang had "injected new impetus" into the nuclear talks.

Despite the DMZ summit, problems could lie ahead.

Mr Trump's national security adviser John Bolton dismissed a report in The New York Times yesterday that Washington is seeking to soften its approach towards Pyongyang, floating an idea of accepting a nuclear freeze - instead of complete dismantlement - and giving tacit recognition that North Korea is a nuclear state.

"I read this NYT story with curiosity," Mr Bolton said in a tweet.

"Neither the (National Security Council) staff nor I have discussed or heard of any desire to 'settle for a nuclear freeze by NK'.

"This was a reprehensible attempt by someone to box in the President. There should be consequences."

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2019, with the headline 'N. Korea media revels in DMZ summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe