The North Korean ambassador emerged in Beijing today to give a press conference at the DPRK Embassy, reprising themes from yesterday’s DPRK Foreign Ministry announcement of a desired peace treaty with the United States (an announcement reported here from one Xinhua’s stalwart guys in Pyongyang, Gao Haorong). The ambassador noted that North Korea’s “goal has always been to achieve denuclearization,” or, stated in Xinhua-ese and mixed in with some chengyu-style idiom, “无核化是朝鲜政府始终不渝、一贯坚持的目标.”
I make an effort to spend at least three weeks a year floating around in the general vicinity of the Ambassador’s office near Ritan Park, and it’s fair in my mind to say that press conferences held in the North Korean embassy in Beijing are a rarity.
Perhaps the idea is not so much to pressure the Americans, but to get the word out in China that the North Koreans are reasonable people who just want to be secure from the possibility of American attack. And I think there’s some traction for this point of view within China, regardless of whether the request for a peace treaty is genuine or just a feint for propaganda purposes. The Dandong news service across the border from Sinuiju indicates as much, reporting on White House spokesman Robert Gibbs’ rejection of the North Korean proposal.
And speaking of Dandong,the city which handles some 70-80% of all cross-border trade, Chinese merchants in the North Korean-China Friendship Markets report that the most popular items bought by North Koreans in China include generators, with South Korean rice-cookers coming in a close second. Of course the Huanqiu reader board uses this as an opportunity to disparage South Korea for pretending to be obsequious to China when in fact the South Koreans consider themselves to be at least a decade ahead of the PRC in terms of development.
Meanwhile a perusal of Yanbian’s main news portal yields a mysterious manhunt for a 47 year old male “Korean fluent in Chinese.” As the Gong’anju (Public Security Bureau) have the tendency to do in China, there is no information available about this fellow’s crimes, so it could be something simple, or he could be a South Korean missionary running around trying to contain damage done by Californian missionary Robert Park, who walked into North Korea via the Tumen River on Christmas Day. But he’s worth 10,000 yuan, and thanks to a taxi cab camera in Yanbian, here he is:
Another South Korean walked into North Hamgyong province on January 9 from somewhere near Tumen, reports Yonhap, an action which, I imagine, will keep things tighter than usual for jaunts to the border.
Finally, Yanbian is so full of interesting characters it’s hard to resist including this photo as well, as part of a story about parents trying to get compensation for an eight-year old kid who suffered a dog bite: