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N. Korea remains silent over the Bolton nomination

Posted March. 27, 2018 08:10,   

Updated March. 27, 2018 08:10


North Korea responded with crude criticism in 2003 when John Bolton, the then- undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, joined the U.S. delegation for the six party talks on North Korean nuclear program. The criticism was a response to Bolton’s calling the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a “tyrannical dictator.” In 2008, Pyongyang denounced Bolton, claiming that the hawkish conservative factions in the United States are mere watching as the rupture and worsening state of six party talks.”

Curiously enough, Pyongyang remains silent at the latest news of Bolton being chosen as the new national security advisor of the Trump administration, the head of Washington’s control tower for diplomatic and security policies. The North’s silence draws a sharp contrast against Iran, a country labeled as the “axis of evil” along with North Korea by the Bush administration in 2002. The Middle Eastern country has recently fumed over Bolton’s nomination, distorting, “Washington’s ultimate goal is to overthrow Iran.”

“It appears that Pyongyang has decided not to provoke the United States at such a juncture when Bolton has assumed an important post in Washington to set the tone of policies toward North Korea,” opined a government official in Seoul about North Korea’s reticence.

Experts say that Pyongyang’s lack of belligerent rhetoric is well in line with the seclusion of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has refrained from making military inspections for about three months since his New Year’s speech. His father Kim Jong Il also significantly reduced public appearances before the start of inter-Korean summit meetings. According to the National Intelligence Service, Kim Jong Il made public appearances only five times before the summit meeting in June 2000, which is roughly half the number of typical public activities.

The Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun reported Monday that the North Korean leadership began to use the expression‎ of “diplomatic victory” internally in referring to the North Korea-U.S. summit meeting. The daily explained that the Workers’ Party of North Korea recently held a lecture for mid-grade brass and called the summit meeting between Pyongyang and Washington an environment to parley with the United States by diplomatic victory. Pundits say that in North Korea, “parley” is often used to refer to a negotiation for ceasefire.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com