N. Korean state media stays quiet on Trump-Kim summit, focuses instead on ‘goodwill’ of Vietnam trip

March 5, 2019

State-controlled media in Pyongyang remained quiet Tuesday on Kim Jong Uns high-stakes summit last week with President Trump choosing instead to focus only on the North Korean leaders return home from an official goodwill visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.While the Norths official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) had carried in articles last week indicating that the Trump-Kim summit was taking place, a report posted by the agency Tuesday made no mention of the summit, let alone its failure Friday to result in any tangible agreement.Analysts monitoring the Pyongyangs media have said the lack of reporting indicated care being taken by Mr. Kim to ensure no negative messaging emanated from the Norths propaganda machine that could trigger criticism against the 35-year-old dictator from elites within his regime.Tuesdays KCNA report focused almost entirely on the warm welcome Mr. Kim and other top officials received upon their arrival home in Pyongyang via train from Vietnam.At 3 o’clock in the early morning, his train entered the railway station yard, the report said, according to a translation by the websitekcnawatch.org. When he got off the train, he received a salute from the head of the guards of honor of the Korean People’s Army.A ceremony for greeting him took place at the station, the report added. He was presented with bunches of flowers by a boy and girl. Senior officials of the Party, government and armed forces organs greeted him with their ardent congratulations.Similar reports had covered Mr. Kims departure for Vietnam roughly 10 days ago.

The regimes tightly controlled propaganda machine rolled out major splash announcing Mr. Kims departure by train from Pyongyang on Sunday. But the lack of coverage since stood in contrast to a mountain of headlines and speculation generated across the world over the Trump-Kim summit.A report by KCNA on Friday did explain that Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump had met at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi and engaged in one-on-one talks before having extended talks with their aides attending.The report painted the talks in a positive light, saying that the two shared the common understanding that the efforts made by the two sides and proactive measures taken by them to defuse tensions and preserve peace on the Korean peninsula and completely denuclearize it were of great significance in building mutual trust and making a fundamental turn in the decades-long bilateral relations characterized by mistrust and antagonism.But when the talks then ended without an agreement, there was no mention of the development in North Korean state media.Still, some analysts argued that even the limited reporting by KCNA and other official media was unprecedented in that was actually far more thorough than has long been the case in North Korea, where the international exploits of past leaders traditionally received zero coverage until well after those leaders returned home.This is actually a very new phenomena and I think its a sign and a positive development, said Paik Haksoon, a long-time North Korea analyst and the president of the Sejong Institute, a leading think tank in South Korea.If you compare the North Korean reporting on Kim Jong-uns departure to the lack of such reporting in the past on his father for instance on Kim Jong-Ils departures to foreign lands this is a really new development, Mr. Paik told The Washington Times in an interview during the lead up to last weeks summit.