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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

North Korean media hails Kim Jong Un's southern visit

Government mouthpiece famous for bellicose threats lavishes praise on President Kim's south Korean hosts

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in raise their hands after signing on a joint statement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea on 27 April. Korea Summit Press Pool via AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in raise their hands after signing on a joint statement at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea on 27 April. Korea Summit Press Pool via AP

A day after President Kim Jong Un became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korean territory since the end of fighting in 1953, the hermit kingdom's state media has heralded his visit as an historic step towards "national reconciliation and unity."

On Saturday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported for the first time on the agreement between President Kim and his south Korean counterpart President Moon Jae to seek peace and compltee denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, predicting that the meeting would become a miletstone "that will connect the broken bloodline of the nation and push forward common prosperity and independent unification."

The article heaped praise not just on President Kim but also south Korean leader Moon, who the KCNA identified as "President Moon", a rare move from the government mouthpiece which questions the legitimacy of the South Korean government. Together both leaders were working to "wisely open up a new history of the north-south relations and further develop the good trend for peace, prosperity and reunification of the Korean Peninsula," KCNA reported.

The statement touched briefly upon denuclearisation efforts that could see North Korea abandon its missile programme. "At the talks both sides had a candid and open-hearted exchange of views on the matters of mutual concern including the issues of improving the north-south relations, ensuring peace on the Korean Peninsula and the denuclearisation of the peninsula," KCNA said.

The stage-managed nature of the visit – which included the leaders attending a theatre performance together – would likely be familiar to North Koreans, who are delivered endless propaganda broadcasts of President Kim conducting visits to factories, farms and military facilities. But with no live updates made during the trip, the KCNA announcement is likely the first news many north Koreans received about what happened during Mr Kim's trip south.

Bellicose statements by the KCNA in the past have included threats to turn Seoul "into a sea of fire"; to stage an "unimaginable" strike on the US; and to bring "disaster" upon Australia. But Saturday's report struck a far more effusive note, making repeated mention of the "thunderous" and "enthusiastic" applause" that accompanied the "sincere" greeting President Kim received.

A state dinner proceeded in an "amicable atmosphere overflowing with feelings of blood relatives," KCNA noted. As the summit concluded, President Kim received a "warm send-off" and the two leaders departed "promising a fresh start".

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