An official of the “Baekdu Miryeong Company”, when asked by the reporting partner, expressed his disappointment, lamenting, “The summit was a failure. Those Americans don’t care about easing our lives. It was foolish to expect anything from the summit in the first place.”

The official, while criticizing the United States, also expressed dissatisfaction with the ‘failure’ of the North Korean authorities, saying, “Our nuclear capability is our single greatest advantage. Not leveraging that to make a deal was a mistake. It would have been better to threaten the U.S. with our nuclear weapons.”

Party and administration officials are also well aware of the summit’s outcome. According to the reporting partner, they are discouraged, with one complaining, “During the Kim Jong-il era, we conducted missile tests and received much food aid from the United States. But, this time, it didn’t work out that way.” For now, however, there is an atmosphere of restraint, as North Koreans refrain from expressing their criticism of the U.S. or their dissatisfaction with the authorities.

On the other hand, there is still hope that, after Kim Jong-un returns home, trade with China will improve. In addition, there is much interest in whether new government measures will be announced, especially those concerning the domestic industries for construction materials and auto parts.

As North Korean traders hang on the words of customs officials, state-run media outlets are declaring the Hanoi summit as another one of Kim Jong-un’s achievements. Despite these proclamations, trade companies and the Pyongyang elite are being hit hard, with the U.N. Security Council sanctions that reduced North Korea’s 2018 exports by about 90 percent, remaining in effect.

※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners through Chinese mobile phones smuggled into North Korea.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

ARCHIVE(pdf) >>