Local television network KBS reported Friday Pyongyang's news and propaganda services have yet to make known the North Korean leader's letter to Moon, following multiple projectile tests and a harsh statement from Kim's younger sister Kim Yo Jong that compared the South to a "frightened dog barking."
In his letter, Kim Jong Un had "underlined his unwavering trust and friendship toward President Moon" and hoped South Korea would eventually overcome COVID-19, according to the presidential Blue House in Seoul. More than 6,500 cases have been confirmed in the South.
North Korea's mixed signals may be a way to control domestic perceptions in the North, a South Korean analyst told KBS.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute, said it is possible the regime is trying to adjust rising expectations among North Koreans of improved inter-Korea ties. Kim Yo Jong's statement was published by KCNA, but it did not run in Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun or on state television. The limited reach of the message could mean the North wants to "informally" control domestic perceptions, Cheong said.
North Korea has been taking measures against the spread of the coronavirus, but the regime may not be happy with some of its senior officers amid what state media has described as a nationwide effort.
On Friday the Rodong Sinmun warned against "self-preservation" and shunning responsibilities toward the statement.
"Those who evade responsibility while trying to preserve their position can easily devolve and is a hypocritical, cowardly person," the paper stated.
North Korea is under heavy sanctions for the development of nuclear weapons, but the state could be circumventing embargoes at sea.
Analysts at Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank, said North Korea-controlled ships have made at least 175 trips to the Chinese coastal city of Zhoushan, near Shanghai, since early 2019. The vessels have engaged in coal shipments from the North, according to the analysis.