With the possibility of a meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang has toned down its bellicose rhetoric in state media reports.
Trump accepted a surprising invitation to meet with the North Korean leader on March 8. Kim recently met Chinese President Xi Jinping, and he is expected to participate in an inter-Korean summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in later this month.
North Korean media has yet to comment on the much-anticipated Trump-Kim summit or the North Korean leader’s promises to pursue denuclearization in order to achieve peace on the peninsula, but it has also stopped criticizing the president and commenting on joint military drills involving American and South Korean troops.
Throughout much of last year, North Korea verbally assaulted Trump, calling him a “lunatic” and sentencing him to death. Pyongyang also railed against joint military exercises, calling them a preparation for invasion. The president’s name has reportedly not appeared in a state media report since March 11, and the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve military exercises, which have triggered Pyongyang and prompted missile tests and other provocations, have not come up since they day Trump accepted Kim’s invitation.
Kim marked the start of this year’s drills with an unprecedented South Korean K-pop concert in the North Korean capital.
North Korea has also stopped celebrating its “state nuclear force,” which Kim claimed North Korea had successfully completed after the successful test of the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile last November. The phrase has not been mentioned since March 3, although there were a couple of favorable reports on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal in the days surrounding Trump’s acceptance of Kim’s unexpected invitation.
Pyongyang has also refrained from talking about its missiles, although there is evidence Kim is building monuments to successful tests of long-range weapons.
Rhetorical shifts in North Korean state reporting appears to suggest that the North is actively pressing ahead with its so-called charm offensive rather than relying on threats and aggressive language, as it has done in the past. The North Korean dictator’s intentions remain unclear as his historic meetings with foreign leaders approach.
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