SEOUL, May 16 (UPI) -- North Korea is aspiring to become a major power and has no interest in market reform, a Chinese journalist who recently visited the country reported.
Most North Koreans who spoke to the Global Times reporter also spoke unfavorably about the United States, with some saying "America is our enemy of 100 years."
Bai Yunyi stayed in Pyongyang for eight days and observed North Korea is changing, but people he was allowed to speak with said their country should never give up its nuclear weapons, Yonhap reported.
The aspiration to world-class power status among North Koreans, however, appeared to contrast with conditions inside the country, the journalist observed.
While staying in the North Korean capital, the journalist noted electricity for the older and shabbier buildings in the city would go out at night and patches of Pyongyang would turn pitch black.
But the challenges that North Korea must confront in the face of heavier sanctions don't seem to deter the people, according to the report.
"Many smaller countries would think it reasonable to draw alliances with superpowers as a way of survival, but North Korea is different," the Chinese article read.
The report stated North Korea continuously used the words self-reliance, self-rule and powerful country to deliver their messages to the foreign journalists who were in North Korea to cover the Seventh Party Congress on May 7.
North Koreans also told Bai that they maintained "strong affection" for North Korea-made products. North Korean officials told the reporter planes, trains and the automobiles on Pyongyang's roads were "all made in North Korea."
But the emphasis on self-reliance could be part of a response against heavier sanctions, a South Korean analyst said
Kim Seok-jin, head of the North Korean research center at the Unification Research Institute, said Pyongyang is emphasizing the need for economic self-reliance because of outside pressures.
Another analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification said the words "nuclear weapons" was used 29 times during one of Kim Jong Un's speeches at the congress.