North Koreans have 'no idea' of Trump, Kim summit

By Elizabeth Shim   |   March 13, 2018 at 10:44 AM
This image released on March 5 by the North Korean Official News Service (KCNA), shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with Seoul's national security chief in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo courtesy of KCNA/UPI

March 13 (UPI) -- Ordinary North Koreans have no idea a major summit between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump is being planned, and the reason is nuclear weapons, according to a Japanese journalist.

Jiro Ishimaru, founder of Asia Press, said he interviewed three North Koreans still in the country, Radio Free Asia reported Monday.

Not a single North Korean he interviewed was aware the North had agreed to the summits, partly because there have been no official statements in Pyongyang media confirming the latest developments, Ishimaru said.

Any announcement of the summits could work against the North Korean government's legitimacy, bolstered by its claims of being a nuclear weapons state.

As part of his offer of talks to the United States and South Korea, Kim had offered denuclearization as an option.

"It is not easy because in 2013 the Korean Workers' Party laid out the 10 principles of its leadership," Ishimaru said, adding the attainment of the status of a nuclear weapons state was one of the principles.

In North Korea, the state has also been instructing its citizens to not let down their guard, according to sources in the country.

They said during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February the regime called for "ideological struggle" and warned people that "despite dialogue between the two Koreas," they should "not be deceived by their enemies."

"South Korea and the United States are always preparing for war, so do not fall for their ruse and maintain fight-ready postures," state officers have said, according to Ishimaru's North Korea sources.

News of the planned summits have sent ripples across Washington and Seoul, and traditional North Korea partners like China and Russia have taken backstage to the latest developments.

But a South Korean analyst says Chinese President Xi Jinping will regain his footing on North Korea affairs and stand toe to toe against Trump when vying for influence, South Korean news service Daily NK reported Tuesday.

China is likely to hold a summit after May and has been conducting "quiet diplomacy" with the North, said Park Jong-chul of Gyeongsang National University.

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