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N. Korean officials shocked about establishment of ties between S. Korea and Cuba

North Korea has yet to officially respond to South Korea’s recent establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Rodong Sinmun, available to all North Koreans, has not yet mentioned the news. However, party officials have been briefed on the development, which has sparked a wave of negative reactions within the Workers’ Party establishment, with some officials calling Cuba a “traitor nation.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a high-ranking Daily NK source in Pyongyang said Wednesday that the Chamgo Sinmun (literally the “Reference Newspaper”) – an international affairs newspaper published by the Central Committee Publications Department and distributed only to party officials – published a report on the establishment of relations between South Korea and Cuba on Feb. 18, four days after Havana and Seoul announced the move.

The Chamgo Sinmun only briefly mentioned that Seoul and Havana had established relations. It did not evaluate or analyze the development.

Two weeks have passed since South Korea and Cuba formally established relations by exchanging official diplomatic letters between their U.N. delegations in New York on Feb. 14, but North Korea has not officially responded to the development.

However, the state-run KCNA, the Rodong Sinmun, and other North Korean media carried reports of a celebratory banquet around the time of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s 82nd birthday on Feb. 16, without mentioning that Cuba’s ambassador to North Korea, Eduardo Luis Correa Garcia, was in attendance.

Given that Cuba is the third most cited nation in North Korean media, behind China and Russia, the omission of the ambassador’s presence may have been an expression of Pyongyang’s displeasure with Havana’s move.

The fact that the North Korean authorities took four days to report the establishment of relations between South Korea and Cuba in the Rodong Sinmun, rather than reporting it immediately, suggests that they were agonizing over whether to tell party officials what had happened or to keep quiet.

Revelation causes shock among party officials

In the end, party officials who learned of the establishment of relations between South Korea and Cuba through the Chamgo Sinmun denounced Cuba as a “traitor nation” that “outwardly acts like a brother but secretly stabs us in the back” and criticized its “treacherous diplomacy.”

In other words, party officials were so shocked that Cuba, which had been considered a “brother nation,” had established relations with South Korea that they felt a sense of betrayal.

While distributing the Chamgo Sinmun, North Korean authorities ordered party officials not to start rumors or groundless talk by unnecessarily mentioning that South Korea and Cuba had established diplomatic relations.

The authorities seemed concerned that ordinary people might negatively view their government’s diplomatic strategy if they learned that South Korea and Cuba had established relations.

North Korea’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, issued an order to its diplomatic personnel in Cuba to send constant reports on Cuba’s foreign policy and diplomatic movements, according to the high-ranking source.

While North Korea is paying attention to what Cuba does next in terms of foreign policy, “the government won’t ostracize Cuba as long as it respects our ideology and traditions and continues to support us,” the source said, adding: North Korea is “watching to see if Cuba continues to maintain trust with our state in the international community.”

Pyongyang appears to be avoiding open criticism or protest of Havana’s establishment of diplomatic relations with Seoul for fear of losing Cuba at a time when North Korea’s diplomatic space in the international community is shrinking. This suggests that North Korea hopes for Cuba’s continued support in the international community.

“Our nation doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” the source said. “We respect Cuba’s decision, but our caution toward Cuba has grown over this issue.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

February 29, 2024 at 01:00PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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