The relative restraint of Kim Jong-un’s remarks – and the fact that he made them in person, not in a written statement in the official North Korean media – strikes analysts as a positive sign despite contrary indications of rising North-South confrontation.
“The language was tempered,” says Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the nonproliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It wasn’t over the top like so much North Korean propaganda.”
Mr. Kim, in an address that also focused on the economy, called on South Korea’s “antireunification forces” to “abandon their hostile policy against their fellow countrymen” and pursue “national reconciliation, unity, and reunification.”
While those words are staples of North Korean rhetoric, they were bereft of mention of South Korea’s outgoing president, Lee Myung-bak, or the incoming president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the long-ruling dictator Park Chung-hee.
North Korea has repeatedly attacked Mr. Lee with vitriolic language, castigating both him and Ms. Park for suggesting the North give up its missile and nuclear programs as a prerequisite for resuming the massive shipments of food and fertilizer sent by the South during the decade of the Sunshine policy from 1998 to 2008.