Communicating through the North Korean delegation’s recent visit to South Korea, leader Kim Jong Un conveyed a message that his country has “enough” willingness to engage in talks with the US. Internal sources, however, report that a signed memo has been dispatched within the country saying that the regime has no intention of restarting meaningful dialogue.
“On February 22, a signed memo [by Kim Jong Un] was handed down to the party cadres on the topic of Kim Yong Chol. The message contradicts the one being communicated to the outside world. The memo says that there is no intention to engage in dialogue with the American imperialists and that South Josun [South Korea] will not act as an intermediary,” a high-ranking source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on March 2.
The memo also emphasizes the fact that North Korea will never surrender its nuclear weapons, stating, “We [North Korea] will not make compromises with or even acknowledge powers that do not recognize our nuclear weapons and missiles.”
The report appears to confirm the North’s intention to maintain its nuclear program, insisting that it will not stray from its position while pursuing improved relations with the South. Against a backdrop of warming North-South relations, the note also acknowledged the South Korean government’s attempt to be a driving force in creating a peaceful environment on the peninsula, a possible attempt to strengthen solidarity.
“The memo said that ‘we need to have faith.’ It also put forward the position that ‘the world revolves around Joseon [North Korea], so there is no need to worry,” the source said.
Asked to interpret the meaning of the memo in regards to the North’s outward position that it is open to dialogue, the source said, “It seems like there’s recognition that no matter how much South Korea helps out, as long as the US pursues its campaign of pressure, there is little chance that dialogue will work out. It’s also possible to read into the memo and interpret it to mean that North Korea may pretend to freeze its nuclear program in a bid to receive assistance.”
Referencing the purpose of Kim Yong Chol’s visit to South Korea, the memo notes multiple purposes, including: “testing the sincerity of the South Korean government,” “dividing friendly and unfriendly powers,” and “inducing [domestic] conflict within the South.”
“We will bring the liberal powers and politicians onto our side and exclude the powers that are not on our side. South Joseon has repeatedly said that it wants to create an environment for dialogue, so this will give us an opportunity to re-verify that claim,’” the note continues.
According to a separate source in Pyongyang who confirmed the content of the memo, it also referred to the idea that Kim Yong Chol is the second O Jin U.” O Jin U was Minister of the Armed Forces under Kim Il Sung, and is domestically considered one of North Korea’s most powerful figures until his death in 1995.
“Through this comparison, the memo hints at the importance of obeying and being loyal to one’s ancestors. It’s also an attempt to address concerns over the decision to send him to South Korea for the visit,” he concluded.