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Kim Jong Un praises letter from Trump, orders preparations for second summit: KCNA, By Oliver Hotham
DPRK leader thanks U.S. President for “determination” to improve relations
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday held a meeting with members of a DPRK delegation to Washington DC last week, hailing a “good personal letter” from the U.S. President and ordering preparations be made for their upcoming second summit.
In comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday morning, the North Korean leader was said to have been debriefed on last week’s visit to the U.S. capital by Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol and other officials.
The delegation reportedly delivered another letter from the U.S. President to the North Korean leader, following Trump’s receipt of a personal note from Kim during their visit to the White House over the weekend.
“Upon receiving the good personal letter sent by President Trump, the Supreme Leader expressed great satisfaction,” KCNA reported, following a meeting which appears to have taken place in the same private office from which Kim delivered his New Year’s Speech.
“[Kim] spoke highly of President Trump for expressing his unusual determination and will for the settlement of the issue with a great interest in the second DPRK-U.S. summit,” it continued, adding that Kim had ordered officials to begin “making good technical preparations” for that meeting.
The North Korean leader was reported to have told officials he fully supports efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and North Korea, and that he believes the two can, through “patience and in good faith… advance step by step toward the goal.”
He also praised the work of last week’s DPRK delegation to Washington DC, a visit which followed months of diplomatic deadlock between North Korea and the U.S. over the issue of sanctions and the pace of denuclearization.
That visit saw Kim Yong Chol, accompanied by diplomats Kim Hyok Chol, Kim Song Hye, and Pak Chol, meet with U.S. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over several meetings widely seen as intended to restart negotiations and prepare for a planned second DPRK-U.S. summit.
Trump in the aftermath of those talks praised a “great meeting” with the DPRK officials.
“We had a very good meeting yesterday with North Korea. That was an incredible meeting,” the President told reporters on Saturday at the White House. “It lasted almost two hours and we’ve agreed to meet sometime probably the end of February.
“We’ve picked the country but we’ll be announcing it in the future,” he said. “Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it and so am I.”
The weekend’s meetings in Washington DC were swiftly followed by a series of U.S.-DPRK talks in Stockholm, which wrapped up on Monday.
One expert said the lack of details from those talks – and North Korea’s positive response – suggested the U.S. may have already presented the DPRK with a deal for the upcoming summit.
“We should be wary of what Kim’s ‘great satisfaction’ with Trump’s letter may portend for the second summit,” Soo Kim, a former CIA North Korea analyst, told NK News.
“We can’t rule out the possibility that the U.S. gave North Korea a preview of concessions it may offer — for a “small deal,” she continued.
This, Kim said, would likely involve offering “something small.”
“Perhaps an easing of some sanctions pressure, or one step further and suggest decreasing U.S. troop presence in the ROK,” she said. “This would be bartered for a small NK step — a nuclear freeze, refraining from testing ICBMs, etc.”
“These are small steps in that they don’t answer to Washington’s initial demands of CVID (to FFVD), but also because these steps are reversible any time the North has a change of heart.”
DPRK officials urge all Koreans to “smash” sanctions, pursue economic cooperation, By Dagyum Ji
Joint statement urges citizens to reject the “cunning moves of outsiders”
North Korean officials on Wednesday urged the two Koreas to “smash all kinds of sanctions and pressure” to achieve joint prosperity, the Rodong Sinmun reported on Thursday, urging Seoul to disregard international sanctions and push ahead with large-scale economic cooperation. The appeal to “all Koreans” was adopted at the joint conference of the DPRK government.
New North Korean posters hail New Year Address, economic and scientific development, By Colin Zwirko
Recently-released propaganda hopes to “inspire the people,” state media reports
North Korean media on Wednesday published a range of new propaganda posters, calling on citizens to follow orders given by leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address and hailing recent ruling party decrees on the economy and scientific development.
The new posters, published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), come amid a slew of political events in the country intended to shore up support for Kim’s New Year speech, and feature imagery focusing on heavy industry, the ruling party’s five-year strategy for national economic development, and the agricultural sector.
They are intended to “inspire the people to carry through the tasks set forth by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in his historic New Year Address,” state media reported, and “to work hard in the indefatigable spirit on the principle of self-reliance.”
The metallurgical and chemical industries are described as the “two pillars of economic construction,” and an increase is encouraged in the agricultural sector – the “major point of attack in socialist economic construction.”
One poster focusing on science and technology features satellites in the sky, and says that “talented personnel and science and technology are our major strategic resources and weapons, with which to bring about a great leap forward in socialist construction!”
In a similar vein, a poster featuring a scientist, a propagandist, and an industry worker says “young people should become pioneers of new technology, creators of new culture and pathfinders for a great leap forward!”
Technological advances are also encouraged in the fishing sector, saying the country should “open a new path for developing the fishing industry!”
Kim Jong Un expanded upon this point in his New Year’s Address, saying “the fishing sector should consolidate its material and technical foundations, put fishing and aquatic culture on a scientific basis and protect and increase aquatic resources.”
Similar to posters released in the past promoting various domestically produced consumer goods, one new propaganda poster released Thursday features a factory worker holding a box of shoes from the Maebongsan brand, which are produced in Wonsan Leather Shoe Factory.
Kim said in his speech this should be achieved “by consistently upholding the banner of modernizing production lines, obtaining at home everything needed for production and improving quality.”
Posters released throughout the course of 2018 covered the same themes and industries, though new batches can point to which brands the government considers most worthy of promotion, and what new developments may be highlighted in the transportation sector in the coming year.
In this case, a new subway train design appears again after being featured in a unification-themed poster released earlier this month and in posters last year.
That new series of posters, while mostly inter-Korean-themed, also included clues as to how North Korea may approach negotiations with the U.S. this year, featuring a call for the end of joint ROK-U.S. military drills .
Kim Jong Un sees himself in a “position of strength” ahead of second summit: expert, By Dagyum Ji
The Brookings Institution’s Jung Pak says Trump is underprepared for complex negotiations
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heads into an upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump believing he is at a distinct advantage, Jung H. Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, warned in a recent interview with NK News. Pak, a former CIA senior official, said she is skeptical that the U.S. President will meet for second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong–un .
An alliance dispute over military cost-sharing: what implications for North Korea? By Ankit Panda
With a second summit looming, Pyongyang could take advantage of U.S.-ROK tensions
Several North Korean ships bucked recent voyage trends in the new year, heading far outside of the limited number of routes they mostly stuck to last in 2018, the NK Pro ship tracker shows. The DPRK vessels broadcast their locations apparently heading to, or returning from Vietnam, southeast China and Asia.
While the United States and North Korea try to revive nuclear talks, another dispute is simmering on the southern half of the peninsula over funding for U.S. forces.
Seoul and Washington failed to agree on a new cost-sharing deal for the 28,500 U.S. servicemembers stationed in South Korea before the latest five-year contract expired on Dec. 31.
That has raised fears that President Donald Trump may threaten to draw down forces as he prepares for a possible second summit with North Korea.
The longtime allies held 10 rounds of talks since March but remained deadlocked as the new year began over Washington’s reported demand that South Korea increase its contribution by as much as 150 percent.
The Special Measures Agreement, as the funding deal is known, largely covers the salaries of South Korean employees who staff restaurants and provide other crucial services for the troops, dependents and civilian contractors.
U.S. Forces Korea, the main command, has warned the Korean Employees’ Union that it may have to put local staff on unpaid leave in mid-April if an agreement isn’t reached.
That would be a blow to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration, which is facing criticism over a rising unemployment rate.
The two sides continue to work on concluding a new deal, according to the State Department, but no date has been publicly announced for more formal talks.
The allies also missed the Dec. 31 deadline in 2013, but they managed to reach a deal a few weeks later when South Korea agreed to increase its contribution by 5.8 percent, with a 4 percent cap on the inflation rate.
“While a gap between agreements is not ideal, it does occasionally occur,” a State Department spokesperson told Stars and Stripes in an email.
“For example, in 2014, the SMA did not enter into force until June despite the earlier agreement expiring in December 2013,” the official said, declining to provide more details about an ongoing bilateral negotiation.
3D model of North Korea’s Wonsan Kalma beach resort sheds light on project plans, By Colin Zwirko
Video obtained by NK Pro reveals detailed blueprint and how plans changed over time