North Korean propaganda, chronically showing heroic North Koreans crushing imperialist powers like the United States, has taken a dramatic turn toward moderation in recent weeks.
Driven by the Kim Jung-un regime’s open meetings with Presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in of South Korea, the ubiquitous posters festooning public squares, shops and elsewhere now deal with economic progress and hailing improved relations with South Korea. Party newspapers show similar shifts.
In a country where access to information is severely controlled, such unannounced shifts are closely watched as reflections of altered official policies. The Communist press has even been reporting the Dear Leader’s foreign trips to Beijing and Singapore in near real-time.
Reduced anti-American hostility might also be part of an ongoing effort to convince President Trump to ease the stringent international economic sanctions he has assembled on the North. The American leader has vowed not to let up until well into the nuclear disarmament process.
However, the hopeful signs of reduced official hostility come at the same time as other developments indicating possible hedging by the Kim state toward its proclaimed goal of “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, whatever that ends up meaning. Using satellite photos, intelligence analysts say Pyongyang continues a large expansion of a solid-fuel ballistic missile engine factory, as we wrote here the other day.
“In tone, the US is now depicted as if it is a normal country,” North Korea expert Peter Ward told the BBC. “All references to US actions that North Korea considers hostile acts have disappeared from the papers.” They’ve been replaced by what might be considered neutral coverage, even when the US recently quit the UN Human Rights Council.
“This is fascinating,” Ward continued. “Generally speaking, neutral or positive coverage is normally reserved for countries that Pyongyang has friendly relations with.”
Of course, the new line is also propaganda. And it can be changed back to aggressive hostility just as quickly. But it’s an interesting indication of Pyongyang’s more open attitude toward the West. And it comes after yet another post-summit pilgrimmage by Kim to Beijing.
Secy. of State Mike Pompeo is in Pyongyang again this week to continue negotiations started in Singapore. He may notice the propaganda changes and even disappearance of anti-American souvenirs on sale widely.
Fyodor Tertitskiy of NK News that closely monitors the North said: “Pyongyang needs an atmosphere of peace and detente and such posters would help to create it.”