◆"Do you know anything about the situation in Ukraine?" We asked residents directly, but...
While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has shaken the world and forced countries to react, as of March 7, North Korean authorities have not reported a single photo or a single second of footage to the public, and have not given any explanation of the situation to the general public or even to the party or government officials (ISHIMARU Jiro / Kang Ji-won).
ASIAPRESS asked five of our reporting partners in North Pyongan Province, Ryangang Province, and North Hamkyung Province since the beginning of March if they were aware of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and any international tensions that had arisen, but none of them were aware of it.
Next, we asked our reporting partners to try speaking with party and administrative officials directly to find out what their grasp of the situation in Ukraine was.
As a result, we learned that as of the 7th, many cadres were unaware of the outbreak of war in Ukraine and had not been briefed on the situation.
One of the reporting partners (a Labour Party member) who lived in the urban area of North Hamkyung Province who conducted the investigation explained the following.
"Only a few of the cadres knew about it. Most of them thought it was not a war between nations, but an ethnic conflict between the countries that made up the former Soviet Union. One trade organization official, perhaps hearing it from a Chinese trader, said, 'There seems to be a lot of interest in it around the world.'"
※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.
◆Why is there silence on the situation in Ukraine?
Let us consider why Putin's war, which is shaking the world, has yet to be conveyed to the people at all.
The most important principle of diplomacy for North Korea is "respect for autonomy." North Korea has always harshly condemned the behaviour of the U.S. and stressed the importance of fighting hegemony and defending independence to its own people, saying that a major power should `not threaten nor advance on an independent country with a military force.
However, Russia, which North Korea supports as a counterweight to the U.S., has now violently overthrown the small nation of Ukraine, trampling upon the "respect for autonomy" that North Korea has always held up as a national policy. This means that the defence of Russia cannot be reconciled with North Korea’s usual condemnation of the U.S..
Although the Kim Jong-un regime's support for Putin will not be shaken in the near future, I suspect that Kim Jong-un will keep a close eye on the war, as well as the evolution of China's position and the situation in Russia, and begin explaining the situation domestically only after he is able to see some progress in the situation.
North Korea was one of the few countries that clearly expressed its support for Russia at the UN General Assembly. On February 28, the regime released a short statement on the issue through a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry via the Korean Central News Agency.
The following is the full text of the short statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
◆ Full text of the statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) gave the following answer to the question put by KCNA on February 28, as the U.S. piles up sanctions and pressure against Russia with the Ukrainian crisis as a momentum:
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