I actually woke up this morning expecting to see news reports of a North Korean missile test. Instead, the status quo appears to be holding, but probably not for long. CNN’s Jim Clancy reports from the region that the state television broadcaster has begun a propaganda campaign to prepare Pyongyang’s subjects for war, which sounds as though Kim Jong-un has something else in mind than a simple missile test. “War is just a matter of time,” North Koreans were told today, and that “no one [in the South] will live to regret anything”:
Clancy offers some sympathy for the newsreader, but I’m not sure why. She’s getting three hots and a cot at the very least, which is better than many of her countrymen over the last few decades. All she has to do is read a script and look serious.
For international consumption, North Korea sounded just as belligerent overnight:
A North Korean agency that deals with relations with South Korea claims Pyongyang has “powerful striking means” on standby for a launch amid speculation in Seoul and Washington that the country is preparing to test a mid-range missile.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland also said Thursday it has entered coordinates for targets. But it didn’t elaborate on what it meant. The statement follows a recent torrent of warlike rhetoric seen as an effort to raise fears and pressure outside governments into policy changes.
The AP report offers this as a palliative:
The comments would carry more weight if they came from a military-related agency.
Actually, as Clancy notes in his video report, the CPRF is on par with a Cabinet agency, and it runs propaganda for the Kim regime. The military and the CPRF take its orders from the same central control — which may or may not be the military itself now that an untested 28-year-old sits on the throne. Their sabre-rattling shouldn’t be discounted, especially considering the preparation that seems to be taking place on state television for war.
However, that preparation hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for official celebrations in the capital:
As neighboring nations kept a close eye on missile movements in North Korea, people in the country’s capital began celebrating a series of April holidays, including the anniversary Thursday of their leader’s appointment as head of the ruling Worker’s Party. …
Meanwhile, on the streets of Pyongyang, there was no sense of panic and the focus was on celebrating milestone anniversaries that highlight the Kim family’s hold on power in North Korea.
After marking late leader Kim Jong Il’s appointment to a top government post Tuesday, North Koreans were putting on their finest clothing to celebration his son Kim Jong Un’s ascension to first secretary of the Workers’ Party a year ago Thursday. The post is one of a slew of top titles he claimed in the months following his father’s December 2011 death.
A flower show, art performances and public dance parties are scheduled over the next few days in the lead-up to the nations’ biggest holiday, the April 15 birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current leader.
All of this could just be a prelude to a missile test to celebrate the anniversary, but Pyongyang is burning up a lot of political capital for just another missile test.