Seoul — TO North Korea, diplomacy is another form of war. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, the Foreign Ministry has bullied the United Nations into submission and outwitted the United States into providing food aid – all the while developing a formidable nuclear arsenal.
This is, of course, the hard-line view of North Korea that prevails in some quarters in Washington. Yet it is also the official North Korean view of North Korea.
In the West, attention is almost exclusively focused on the official pronouncements released by Pyongyang’s Central News Agency – statements that, for all their strange rhetoric, strive to present North Korea as a misunderstood country eager for more normal relations with Washington. Last week’s announcement that North Korea has nuclear weapons, for example, said that while the country had “manufactured nukes for self-defense,” it still sought only “peaceful coexistence” with the United States.
But the propaganda dinned every day into the North Korean people is of a different order. School textbooks, wall posters, literary works: all celebrate a cynical “attack diplomacy” that makes a frightened and uncertain world dance to the drum of Kim Jong Il. Again and again, comic effect is derived from stories of stammering American and international officials trying to placate the relentless “warriors” of the Foreign Ministry. Washington’s refusal to follow through on veiled threats of military action is mocked as a failure of nerve.
The novel “Barrel of a Gun,” for example, released in 2003, is an official “historical” work about how Mr. Kim’s iron resolve forced the Clinton administration to its knees in 1998. “Excellency,” the American negotiator says at the end of the book, groveling shamelessly before his North Korean counterpart, “you are also a mighty superpower.”
“I like the sound of that,” the North Korean answers with a chuckle and a sharp look. Then he lays down the law. The Americans want to inspect some caves for evidence of a nuclear program? Perhaps a “visit” can be arranged – if 700,000 tons of food are first delivered in atonement for the “strangulatory” blockade of the country. (If you ever wondered why Pyongyang allows food aid to be distributed with the Stars and Stripes on the bags, there’s your answer.)…
Copyright 2005 – The New York Times (for the full article please see the link below)