North Korea reiterates refusal to give up nuclear weapons in domestic lectures

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Hanoi for the second US-DRPK summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Hanoi for the second US-DRPK summit. Image: Rodong Sinmun

The North Korean authorities are criticizing the US and emphasizing the country’s unwillingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program in lectures referencing the recent US-DPRK, Sino-DPRK and Russia-DPRK talks, local sources report.

Despite North Korea’s active diplomatic efforts following the failure of the US-DPRK talks in Hanoi including Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to Russia, the regime has failed to achieve any clear diplomatic victories. Through lectures aimed at the general population, the North Korean authorities are likely aiming to prevent unrest among the population and boost support for the regime.

“A lecture was held at the cultural center in Hyesan on May 18, focusing on the summits between North Korea and the US, China and Russia,” a Ryanggang Province-based source Daily NK. “The lectures heaped praise on the diplomatic efforts by Kim Jong Un and criticized the US and China.”

The lecturer told those in attendance that the US president had promised to lift sanctions and give North Korea food, equipment and even cash if the country gave up its nuclear weapons, but Kim Jong Un told him “that wasn’t going to happen,” the source said.

Daily NK previously reported that the North Korean authorities held meetings earlier this year that emphasized the country’s refusal to give up its nuclear weapons and criticized the US.

At the most recent lecture, the audience was also informed that while Kim Jong Un agreed to meet with the American president while he was on a visit to Vietnam “the US-DPRK summit was not the [main] reason for [Kim Jong Un’s visit to Vietnam].”

This explanation conflicts with a Rodong Sinmun article on February 24 which clearly stated Kim Jong Un’s departure from Pyongyang “for the second US-DPRK summit.”

According to the source, the government likely wanted to downplay the significance of the second US-DPRK summit after it ended in failure.

Praising the international recognition of Kim Jong Un, the lecturer told attendees that “Trump shook hands with Chairman Kim with both hands. When he meets with other world leaders, he generally grabs the other leaders’ hands before the start of summits to show who is boss.”

“Trump is envious of our leader but also afraid of him,” he continued “He was envious of the way our state officials – even elderly ones – respectfully bow to Chairman Kim, and was afraid because we have nuclear weapons.”

This statement, the source asserted, aimed to show that North Korea’s international status has risen because of its possession of nuclear weapons, and convey that Kim Jong Un did not return empty handed after the summit.

“Trump told Chairman Kim that he would give him a plane to return back to North Korea after the summit instead of taking the train back,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province familiar with the lecture content reported. “Chairman Kim, however, told Trump that he wanted to tour Vietnam and that he had the full right to do that without interference, and as such Chairman Kim toured Vietnam before returning home.”

Emphasizing Kim’s diplomatic efforts, participants were told that the Supreme Leader “is working hard to ensure our people are living good lives and continues to conduct on-the-spot visits.”

The facilitator also used a common North Korean-style propaganda approach by emphasizing that the leader’s actions were all due to his “love for the North Korean people.”

Notably, criticism of China also featured heavily at the meeting. “China wants to work with us but the US is threatening China that it will starve all of its 1.3 billion people if it works with us. Now China is unsure what to do and is floundering,” the source said, citing the speaker.

In contrast, the lecturer had just simple praise for the Russian-DPRK summit, saying that Russia “treated us [North Korea] with great friendliness.”

The lecture was conducted by the Central Party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department and some 600 North Koreans attended. Both sources told told Daily NK that the government plans to hold similar lectures for residents across the region, including border districts and farming areas, by the end of the month.