N. Korea moves to portray itself as 'normal nation' ahead of summits

북한, 예술단•태권도시범단 방북 4일간 유연한 태도 보여

During the art troupe's four-day stay in North Korea,... the reclusive regime behaved differently from the past, surprising watchers in the South.
Oh Jung-hee delves deeper into the implication of the Pyongyang's move to portray itself as a friendly, normal place.

On Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched South Korean artists perform in Pyongyang.
The next day, North Korea's state-run Rodong Sinmun published the photo of Kim and the South Korean artists on the first page of its paper... and also showed him greeting and shaking hands with every artist.
North Korea's Korean Central News Agency also reported... Kim said he was (quote)"deeply moved" to see citizens enjoy the performance and better understand South Korea's pop culture.
Such coverage is in stark contrast to the regime's past reporting... where South Korean pop culture was rather called (quote)"bourgeois capitalist culture."

And,... that North Korea apologized for South Korean reporters being blocked from covering Sunday's concert... also came as a surprise.
The South Korean press had to watch Sunday's concert on a television in a nearby room,... as the concert began right away after Kim Jong-un came... without the reporters being notified.
Kim Yong-chol, a Workers' Party official in charge of inter-Korean affairs,... showed up and apologized,... saying he understands South Korean reporters' frustration.
He added it wasn't intentional... but a result of a lack of communication.

And unlike in the past, North Korea allowed South Korean reporters to film the streets of Pyongyang.
A couple of South Korean artists who visited Pyongyang years ago... said that the city has become much colorful.
Spring flowers are in bloom in Pyongyang... and citizens could be spotted walking with relatively light clothing.
The authorities provided internet and cell phones as well.

All these, pundits believe,... are not the results of a policy change to open the regime up to the outside world... but only moves by North Korea to paint itself as a 'normal country'...
as well as to show willingness to improve... or at least, not hurt, inter-Korean relations... ahead of the first summit talks with South Korea in over a decade.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.

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