March 08, 2019 13:33
North Korean state media continue to portray the abortive summit with the U.S. as a roaring success, but the truth is trickling in through the border with China.
The North Korean regime seems to have tightened controls to limit the damage, but rumors are rampant that officials responsible for the failure of the summit will be purged.
Japan's Tokyo Shimbun daily on Thursday cited an unnamed source as saying, "News that the Hanoi summit had failed is spreading quickly around Sinuiju and other border regions through merchants passing through China."
South Korea's National Intelligence Service "told lawmakers in a briefing that there were high expectations among North Koreans over the summit, but disappointment is apparent following the failed talks," the daily said.
"There is a lot of disappointment [among North Koreans] being voiced over continued sanctions," a source here said. "There are concerns that prices of sanctioned products like car parts will rise even further."
But the North Korean regime has put out public notices that it will assess the ideological soundness of Workers Party officials and ordinary people. North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a defector group, said, "Instructions have been sent requiring all Workers Party officials and ordinary people to submit written accounts of what they did and thought during the period Kim Jong-un was outside of the country" to attend the summit.
There are rumors that a purge awaits Kim's right-hand man, Kim Yong-chol and the North's point man on U.S. issues, Kim Hyok-chol, who was only recently appointed as chief negotiator, for badly misreading U.S. President Donald Trump's commitment to denuclearization.
One researcher at a state-run think tank here said, "We can infer that Kim Jong-un was quite shocked by Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui's saying after the summit that her leader 'may have lost the will.'"
"Kim Jong-un's plans to boast of his diplomatic and political prowess through a successful summit with the U.S. have suffered a setback, and there is a strong chance he will hold his subordinates responsible," the researcher added.
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