The North Korean state media triumphantly issued a congratulatory message from The queen Monday and prompted knowledgeable insiders to speculate that Pyongyang may have invented the Buckingham Palace banknote in a propaganda move to boost the international status of the rogue state.
However, a royal spokesman has confirmed to The Daily Beast that Queen Elizabeth II actually sent a cheerful message to Kim Jong Un on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea “regularly greets our Queen on her birthday,” Korea expert Aidan Foster-Carter, a senior researcher at Leeds University in England, told The Daily Beast, “but I find no trace of any message from us / her to them-until now. So it’s exciting. “
The message, dated September 7, two days before North Korea’s founding day parade, was unveiled on Monday by Pyongyang’s Korean central news agency, which published it in its entirety amid dozens of other messages from leaders in countries such as Algeria, Seychelles and Azerbaijan. The controversial king of Thailand was another wish, but the heads of other Western powers were remarkable in their absence.
The Queen avoided any personal tribute to the Korean dictator despite paying tribute to the anniversary of the establishment of the Kim dynasty.
“While the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are celebrating their national day, I send my best wishes for the future,” she said.
A royal spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the message to The Daily Beast and removed suspicion that it could have been a detailed scam. The palace would only say that the message had been sent to the head of state, even though there is only one man to whom it could refer. Pyongyang’s KCNA confirmed that it was sent to Kim Jong Un as “president of state affairs.”
“It was a message sent by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) on behalf of Her Majesty to the people of North Korea on their national day,” a spokesman for the palace said. Such messages are routinely sent in the Queen’s name by and on the advice of the FCDO, she would not have drafted the message herself.
However, efforts to downplay the significance of the message will not appeal to critics who fear that the regime is making use of the Queen’s message to give legitimacy to its autocratic system. North Korea’s nuclear issue was demonstrated again on Sunday boasts successful testing of a new long-range cruise missile.
North Korean leaders have been trying to engage the queen for years, sending nice notes to the family and her citizens. In 2014, for example, Kim Yong Nam, then North Korea’s titular head of state, sent birthday greetings to the Queen, wishing her and her subjects “health and happiness … welfare and prosperity.”
The feeling then, as now, was that North Korea reached out after friendship with Britain despite hostility from the Korean War, when British troops played heroic roles under the command of the UN command in battles along the line between North and South.
Bruce Bennett, North Korea’s expert at Rand Corporation, said the queen’s message could also be seen as pro-Western propaganda, designed to appeal to the people of North Korea rather than the ruling family.
“I am convinced that the ROK (South Korea, the Republic of Korea), the United States and other allies should tell the people of North Korea that we do not hate them. Contrary to what the regime tells them, we are not their enemies and we really hope they can have a better life. ”
Bennett suggested it The United States should follow the Queen’s example when it came to congratulating the North Koreans on anniversaries.
“I have always wondered why the US government is not trying to send such messages,” he said. While Kim Jong Un “appears to be paranoid about outside information, the United States and its allies should regularly send appropriate messages to the people of North Korea, messages that contradict the regime’s rogue propaganda.”
“With Kim having it many internal issues right now, he needs scapegoats to blame, ”Bennett said. “What better message to send that we do not harm the North Korean regime is.”
Andrew Salmon, author of groundbreaking books about the British in the Korean War, saw the leaders of the two countries in a symbiotic relationship. The few words from the queen, he said, were “a message from a hereditary (constitutional) monarch to a hereditary (absolute) monarch.”
But there may be more to the message than just words, given Choi Jin-wook, who has analyzed North Korea’s issues for decades with the Korea Institute of National Unification and others.
“A wild guess!” he said, noting that the US and the UK “are in intimate communication” and may have collaborated on the message. “A country or person like North Korea who is isolated and labeled as a usual suspect needs to be treated nicely. Otherwise, it can cause problems, ”he said.
Choi said the United States was unable to “do anything”, but interestingly, North Korea’s top US negotiator, Sung Kim, was in Tokyo and conferred with South Korean and Japanese envoys, although the KCNA reported the message. Sung Kim’s point was that the United States wanted to enter into dialogue with the Nordic region “regardless of progress in denuclearization,” according to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency.
Sung Kim actually spoke of negotiations despite North Korea boasting of having successfully test-fired a new type of cruise missile over the weekend. Without referring to the cruise missile tests, he said the United States was “ready to work with North Korea to resolve humanitarian concerns,” Yonhap reported.
Shim Jae-hoon, a longtime analyst of Korean issues, had a less charitable explanation for the royal gesture. “Think of her age (95),” he said. “She can only move on.”