Go to contents

Difference in P'yang's attitude towards U.S. and China

Posted October. 24, 2000 12:46,   


U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright arrived in Pyongyang on Oct. 23, one day after a Chinese military mission visited the North Korean capital.

What importance did North Korea attach to each of these two countries -- seeing one as the traditional blood ally and the other as the strongest enemy state in the world? How differently did Pyongyang receive their representatives?

The purposes for which the two nations dispatched delegations to the North might vary. China sent a goodwill mission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a campaign of ¡°resisting America and aiding (North) Korea" in l950 when Beijing entered the North with massive troops Oct. 25 to help salvage the overpowered North Korean army during the Korean War.

On the other hand, Washington sent a working mission to discuss issues of immediate concern such as negotiating a peace agreement, missile development and lifting of economic sanctions. North Korea cannot but be preoccupied with the United States.

Given that difference, the reaction of North Korea to these two visiting groups Monday seemed to show a difference more distinct than a dissimilarity in the purpose of the visits.

On the first day Albright had a surprise meeting with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Il at Baekhwawon guest house; when she visited Kumsusan Palace, the mausoleum for the late North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung, the secretary was escorted by Vice Marshal Jo Myong-Rok, the second most powerful man in the North Korean hierarchy and first vice chairman of the National Defense Commission in an exceptional show of hospitality.

In contrast, the visiting chief of the Chinese mission met with only Kim Il-Chol, minister of the People's Armed Forces and another vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. A reception given by the defense minister was apparently meant to reduce the significance of the Chinese mission to "a military exchange.¡±

In protocol the difference of weight North Korea gave each delegation also was discernible. The Chinese visitors were met at the airport by military officers, while Albright was received by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan and other government officials, and a group of more than 20 North Korean journalists.

Accommodations provided the two delegations also were distinct. The U.S. mission was led to Baekhwawon guest house, reserved usually for state guests. Where the Chinese mission stayed was not known, but North Korea specialists in the South speculate that it was put up no doubt at less luxurious hotels for foreign celebrities such as Bonghwa Hotel or Moranbong Hotel.

They reason that the special treatment accorded the U.S. delegation evidences the urgency of the pending agenda to be addressed for the survival and maintenance of the regime that precedes hospitality to old friends.

Ha Tae-Won scooop@donga.com