Third Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party. Image: Rodong Sinmun
Following US President Donald Trump’s public letter cancelling the US-DPRK summit, an order emanating directly from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was reportedly sent to the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Korean Workers’ Party Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) commanding that “outdated diplomacy practices be replaced and for creative diplomacy to be practiced.”
In his message, Kim criticized the outdated diplomatic strategy of the MFA and OGD that quickly led US-DPRK relations to turn sour because of highly offensive comments toward the US made by North Korean officials. These comments reportedly became the basis for Trump’s decision to cancel the summit.
“Chairman Kim criticized senior officials within the MFA and OGD in a message that called for them to ‘take the leadership role in a sincere and practical manner in negotiations for the US-DPRK summit that are in line with the demands of this current, rapidly changing period,’” said a Daily NK source in Pyongyang on May 29 with knowledge of the document.
Kim handed down the message on May 25. On May 24, Trump had sent a letter addressed to Kim saying that the summit will not take place.
“The MFA leadership should take care to understand that the use of misplaced confidence and the [outdated] MFA-style of negotiations will create problems for the Party in appropriately guiding the developing conditions for the summit at this fast-paced point in time,” Kim’s message read.
According to the source, Kim also noted in the missive that “[t]he use of traditional diplomatic tactics to gain dominance at the US-DPRK summit may only create a dangerous diplomatic situation, and without building trust with our long-time enemy the US […] Trust is the bedrock of diplomacy and of the utmost priority.”
Kim’s message appears to be in response to the threats and outrageous criticism that MFA officials including Kim Kye Kwan and Choe Son Hui made in an attempt to shore up North Korea’s negotiating position before the summit. Kim’s message stated that such an approach was outdated and could cause the diplomatic situation to worsen.
Given that any statement announced internationally must be signed off by Kim himself, a key structural characteristic of the regime, however, a separate source in Pyongyang familiar with the letter said that “the message was simply a way for Kim to avoid taking responsibility for the sharp, negative turn in US-DPRK relations.”
He explained that the message referred to the United States as a “proud superpower sitting on the other side of the negotiating table” and as such “all trends and intentions [of the US] must be studied in detail.”
“Wherever the summit takes place, whether it be in the US, Singapore, or South Korea, we must have our own diplomatic measures in place, and we must be on top of all specific pieces of information regarding the actions of the world toward the US-DPRK summit,” he added, citing the directive.
Kim mentioned the public letter sent by Trump in the message, but Trump’s original mention of “cancelling the summit” was replaced with a “delay in the summit,” the additional source said.
He continued by reading out the related excerpt from the document which states, “We must have our own diplomatic philosophy in the face of the US unilaterally sending over a public letter to delay the US-DPRK summit […] I expect that you will display unending diplomatic creativity based on loyalty to the Party and will take charge of meticulously ensuring the negotiations with the US occur, based on the diplomatic strategies and tactics established by the Party.”
Kim also mentioned in the letter that “[t]hrowing off our economic difficulties and realizing the decisions of the April Plenary Meeting by protecting our nuclear power, the bastion of our socialist state, and making the Americans wave the white flag, is the independent diplomatic strategy we must charge forward with unceasingly.”
North Korea held its Third Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party on April 20 of this year. During the plenary, North Korea announced that it would halt all nuclear and intercontinental missile tests and shut down its nuclear site. North Korea also announced the “end” of the Byungjin Line, which called for parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy, and the adoption of a new strategy that focused all national efforts on developing the socialist economy.