Pyongyang resident shares feelings on inter-Korean relations

Pyongyang residents with bouquets of flowers greet Moon Jae In at the Pyongyang Airport for the inter-Korean summit on September 18. Image: Pyongyang Press Corps Pool

The citizens of Pyongyang enthusiastically welcomed South Korean President Moon Jae In during his visit to the city this past September for the third inter-Korean summit. But what do Pyongyang citizens think about the increase in exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas as tension dissipates on the peninsula?

Daily NK conducted an interview with a Pyongyang resident who is currently residing near the Sino-DPRK border for business. Given that a little more than a month has passed since the summit, we asked him what Pyongyangites thought about President Moon, the atmosphere in Pyongyang following the summit, the possibility of Kim Jong Un making a trip to Seoul, and his thoughts on unification.

Below is the interview with Pyongyang resident Kim Ho Chol (alias, male in his 60s) conducted by Daily NK in mid-October.

Moon Jae In address North Korean audience after attending the mass games in Pyongyang on September 19. Image: Pyongyang Press Corps Pool

Daily NK (DNK): As the inter-Korean relationship has improved, there are reportedly more and more North Koreans who now hope for unification. What is the atmosphere surrounding unification among Pyongyangites?

Kim Ho Chol (Kim): Generally speaking, most people desire unification, but some say that it will be difficult because [South Korea] receives orders from the American president. The Chairman [Kim Jong Un] says that unification will happen, but Moon cannot say that because he receives orders from the US and does whatever the US wants him to do. That’s what some people say. They blame the “bad American bastards.”

DNK: President Moon is the first South Korean president to make a speech in front of Pyongyang residents. What did you think of his speech?

Kim: I wasn’t able to see the speech myself. People who went say that Moon did a really great job. It’s pretty special for the South Korean president to come to Pyongyang and make a speech. But does this mean unification will happen? They talk about a North Korea without nuclear weapons, but we need nuclear weapons. Without nuclear weapons we would go to war with the US. At least that’s what some people say. The Chairman said that he would get rid of the weapons, but how will we really know whether the weapons have really disappeared?

DNK: What kind of Pyongyang residents went out to meet President Moon at Sunan Airport?

Kim: They were all there to welcome Moon and most of them work at factories or enterprises from all over the country. Once they showed their ID cards they were allowed into the airport and waited with flowers.

DNK: What’s the atmosphere in Pyongyang like now since the end of the summit and what was it like before the summit?

Kim: The authorities patrolled the streets every night before President Moon came. They still patrol the streets and the hotels. They say the patrols are to get rid of thieves, but there are no thieves in Pyongyang.

DNK: What do Pyongyangites think about President Moon since he left Pyongyang?

Kim: There are more people talking positively about Moon and South Korea than criticizing them. There is also talk about a railway [connecting the two Koreas]. People talk positively about those things, but I don’t think unification will happen. The US will ensure it doesn’t happen.

DNK: What kinds of things are Pyongyangites saying about Kim Jong Un’s potential visit to Seoul, which was agreed to in the Pyongyang Joint Declaration?

Kim: Well, people are saying that Chairman Kim Jong Un will visit South Korea because President Moon came to Pyongyang. That would be great. We [ordinary North Koreans] would then be able to go to South Korea if the two leaders continue to visit each other.