North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is due for a Nobel Peace Prize, that is if the country's propaganda is to be believed.
Ahead of Kim’s second summit with United States President Donald Trump, citizens in the North are showing great interest in the prize, and speculation that Kim will be a recipient is high.
“After the first U.S.-North Korean summit, the authorities began saying during propaganda lecture sessions that Kim Jong Un is a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize,” a North Korean government official told RFA’s Korean Service.
“Ever since [the first summit] at the end of June last year, the Nobel Peace Prize became a hot topic of discussion here in North Korea,” said the official, referring to Kim’s summit with Trump in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
The two leaders are slated to meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, and Thursday, Feb. 28. Their Singapore summit produced a pledge from Kim to work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but the vague agreement has produced few concrete results since.
“Because the two U.S.-North Korea summits are being held right after the other, authorities began distributing ‘educational materials for the greatness of our highest leader.’ [Within those materials] is a lot of propaganda about the Nobel prize,” the official added.
“The authorities claim that the world has our Supreme Leader as a potential winner, but they don’t really talk much about who Nobel was, how the prize was founded and what the criteria are for winning the prize,” the official said.
According to the will of Alfred Nobel, the Peace Prize is awarded annually to the person who in the past year “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition of reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”
While a formal end to the Korean War has been a discussion topic in both the recent U.S.-North Korea and inter-Korean summits, North Korea was estimated to have 1.3 million active military personnel in 2018, according to figures published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Another source in North Hamgyong province said that the Nobel Prize propaganda is prevalent in that area as well.
“The prize is suddenly receiving a lot of attention ahead of the second summit. Authorities are putting out propaganda that idolizes Kim Jong Un, saying there’s a global ‘praise fever for the world’s greatest man,” said the source.
“The propaganda even mentions that Western and Japanese media sources are lavishing praise upon the Supreme Leader, saying he’s a potential winner of the Peace Prize,” the source said.
“But people don’t’ really trust what the propaganda is saying about the foreign media, because they [have lied about it in the past] citing media sources that don’t actually exist,” the source added.
“If they want us to believe that’s how the foreign media is talking about [Kim] then they need to present the foreign media as it is,” said the source.
“They always clearly show foreign reports critical of both [South Korean President] Moon Jae-In and [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe, but the don’t show any of the reports praising Kim Jong Un. Nobody understands why they aren’t showing that."
If Kim Jong Un were to win the prize he would not be the first Korean recipient. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung won the prize in 2000, shortly after holding a summit with then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
Reported by Jieun Kim for RFA’s Korean Service. Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.