North Korea places Hyon Song Wol in inspection team as distraction

Lee Sang Yong  |  2018-01-30 15:20
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Samjiyon Orchestra leader Hyon Song Wol leads the art troupe inspection team dispatched
to South Korea to choose venues for their upcoming performances during the Olympics.
Image: Yonhap News Agency

The North Korean authorities have recently ordered cadres to attend lectures focused on explaining and celebrating the strategy behind the recent decision to send Moranbong Band leader and now Samjiyon Orchestra leader Hyon Song Wol to high-level Olympics talks and an inspection mission to South Korea.

"Cadres from central government organs such as the Ministry of State Security (MSS), Ministry of People's Security (MPS), and others, were made to attend emergency lectures on January 19 titled, 'Hyon Song Wol South Korea Strategy,'" a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on January 24. "The main point of the lecture was that Hyon was utilized in talks with South Korea to promote central party principles such as 'gaining the upper hand in negotiations' and 'pacing negotiations.'"
According to the source, the North Korean authorities took into account the way in which Hyon would be considered by the South Korean government and portrayed in the media when they made the decision to select her as the face of recent interactions with the South.
The idea was that with Hyon front and center, the media would be focusing on rumors surrounding her alleged prior relationship with Kim Jong Un, and that she is "a strong leader." In this way, North Korea believed she would be a useful distraction for the South Korean government and media, which would focus on her rather than North Korea's true intentions surrounding the Olympics.
"The lecturer stressed the point that by making South Korea focus on an unimportant problem, the government was able to gain the upper hand (in the negotiations)," the source said. "With North Korean delegates negotiating based on this strategy approved by the central authorities, they were able to create a more relaxed atmosphere.  
A separate source in Pyongyang also described how the North's decision to abruptly cancel and then reinstate plans to send an inspection team was part of a carefully planned strategy. The lecturer stressed that the plan was intended to "test the South Korean government's resolve," he said.
"Attendees said they could sense through prior lectures that this strategy has been in the works for a while now. Going forward as well, they will use this kind of strategy to gain the upper hand again."
The lecture reportedly also stressed Kim Jong Un's leadership capabilities and included the topic of "strategic utilization of the Olympics for propaganda to normalize our (country's) image."
"In the lecture, they even said, 'Through our participation in the Olympics and as an independent nation, we have the responsibility to defend world peace,' and, 'The superior leadership of Kim Jong Un will be proven to the world,'" he explained.

"The lecturer also said, 'We boast of the fact that the world clearly revolves around our party's plans, and this is a groundbreaking opportunity to strengthen the foundational unity of the party, country, army, and people.'"

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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