At night at the Kobangsan Guest House in Pyongyang, North Korea, there is not much to do before falling asleep. There is no network for cellphones or Internet for laptops to connect to. North Korean television broadcasts a limited number of hours a day. It airs a loop of propaganda clips and a replay of a speech by Kim Jong Eun, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The young leader is shown saying now that security has been guaranteed by a successful satellite launch and a nuclear test — a combination that, in his eyes, sets sufficient deterrence from foreign hostilities and invasion, a fear deeply ingrained in North Koreans’ consciousness — the nation’s attention can turn to economic growth.
Our delegation to North Korea heard a similar message from government officials. But while there is great skepticism about what is said in private diplomatic meetings, there is less doubt when the leader speaks to his public directly, carrying a similar message, three times a day every day. The leader is preparing his people for what is coming next.