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North Korea Keeps South Korean, U.S., and Japanese Journalists Out of Japan-DPRK Match

Consecutive recent military provocations and hereditary succession

Source: News1

On March 19 (local time), NK NEWS, a U.S. media outlet with a branch in Seoul and a specialization in North Korean affairs, reported that North Korea denied entry and coverage to six media outlets from South Korea and the U.S. among the 28 foreign media outlets that applied to cover the World Cup Asian qualifier match between Japan and North Korea in Pyongyang on March 26.

North Korea has not disclosed the reasons for denying entry to the foreign media outlets that applied for coverage. One expert interpreted this as likely related to North Korea’s recent policy of defining South Korea as an adversary.

On March 17, the Japan Football Association shared this fact with NK NEWS, revealing that the North Korean Football Association had denied entry to foreign media outlets.

The Japan Football Association reported when 28 people from South Korea, the U.S., and Japan applied to cover the Pyongyang World Cup qualifier, North Korea denied entry and coverage to six of them.

Among them, the Sankei Shimbun, a conservative newspaper in Japan, was the only Japanese media outlet that was denied entry. It reported this fact on March 18.

In addition, entry and coverage were denied for South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo and Korean journalists residing in Japan.

Source: News1

Kenji Yoshinaga, a former naval intelligence officer of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, analyzed that North Korea’s denial of entry to South Korean, U.S., and Japanese media outlets appears to be related to Kim Jong Un’s recent war preparations and hardline stance against South Korea.

He stated, “The backdrop to the denial of entry is North Korea’s ongoing provocations since last year, having given up on unification in 2023 and defining South Korea as an adversary.”

North Korea allowed Russian media to enter the country to cover the Russian delegation’s visit from 2023 for the first time since September 2018. However, it has closed its doors to media from other countries.

During the inter-Korean soccer match held in Pyongyang in October 2019, all media outlets, including Russia, were denied entry, and the game was played in a closed-off state without spectators. Since North Korea had tightly closed its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, it began to allow entry to overseas residents and some foreign visitors in 2023, showing a more open atmosphere.

Meanwhile, the North Korean men’s soccer team visited Tokyo on March 19 to play the second match in the North-Central America World Cup Asian region against the Japanese team. The North Korea-Japan match held in Japan will occur three days after the North Korean team’s arrival, on March 21.

Source: News1

Meanwhile, North Korea has recently been showing a threatening stance towards South Korea.

Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, has been aggressively publicizing his military posture and war readiness, from attending the Air and Ground Forces (Airborne Troops) training to personally directing military training.

On March 16, the Korean Central News Agency of North Korea announced that Kim Jong Un had directed the Air and Ground Forces training on the 15th. According to the news agency, the training in which Chairman Kim participated aimed to “verify and review the posture in which airborne troops can be mobilized according to any tactical guidance transmitted in an unfavorable wartime situation.”

It added, “Each transport plane flew into the training ground, and the People’s Army fighters rained down on the virtual enemy positions like a hailstorm,” boasting of the military power of the North Korean army.

Kim Jong Un, who participated in the airborne troops’ training, mentioned a word war, telling the North Korean army that “the primary, secondary, and tertiary tasks of the People’s Army are war preparedness.”

Source: News1

Following this, Chairman Kim ordered, “All soldiers of the entire army of North Korea must be strongly and firmly armed with a firm will to confront the enemy, a solid view of the war, and a readiness to even change history if war breaks out.”

He further stated, “Even if the People’s Army conducts one training, the army must participate in it as if it were real, as it is directly connected to war. This is the only way to prepare soldiers as real fighters who can win unconditionally by fighting in the stern battlefield where lives are at stake in an emergency.”

He also brought his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, to this training. It was the first time Kim Ju Ae participated in North Korean military training, and she showed the aspect of a successor, inspecting North Korean military training through a telescope just like Kim Jong Un.

Moreover, North Korean media used the word Hyangdo for Kim Ju Ae, a term only used for the supreme leader of North Korea. This leads to the assumption that Kim Jong Un has chosen Kim Ju Ae as the fourth-generation successor. North Korean experts were skeptical about Kim Ju Ae being Kim Jong Un’s successor due to the exclusive situation in North Korea and were watching the situation.

Kim Jong Un’s recent actions and the words of North Korean media suggest that Kim Ju Ae, born in 2013, is stepping into the succession phase. North Korea has been continuing a hardline policy against South Korea, including firing ballistic missiles off its east coast.

It is predicted that North Korea, with its fourth-generation succession and continuous military provocations, intends to not give up its dominance on the Korean Peninsula.

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