N.Korean Press Strikes Polite Note on Lee

      August 25, 2009 10:26

      The North Korean state media for the first time gave President Lee Myung-bak his official title when they reported on a North Korean delegation's visit to Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday, the Unification Ministry said Monday. The North Koreans were in Seoul last week for the funeral of former President Kim Dae-jung, who died on Aug. 18.

      According to a ministry official, the North Korean state media reported the delegates met "South Korean President Lee Myung-bak." So far they had used a battery of epithets like "traitor," "lackey," and "sycophant" to describe his administration. The (North) Korean Central News Agency reported the meeting a mere three hours after the delegation returned to Pyongyang, which is positively rapid by North Korean standards. "Questions on improving the North-South relations were discussed during the meeting," it said. Other outlets also promptly reported on major steps on the delegation's itinerary, from the decision to send it to its return to Pyongyang.

      An intelligence officer said all this "implies that North Korea is very interested in the delegation's meeting with the president and that the officials conveyed an important message from Kim Jong-il to Lee." A researcher at a state-run think tank even said the change of tack could mean North Korea "now recognizes Lee as a dialogue partner."

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