Infighting unlikely but media impact was tops: expert

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

U.S. experts on North Korea said Friday’s failed launch will probably not create leadership conflicts in Pyongyang, but that if the true purpose of the launch was to whip up a world media frenzy, it succeeded brilliantly.

“It’s unlikely the apparent failure of the launch will have any effect on the leadership in North Korea, especially since Kim Jong Un has just recently become the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the party’s chairman of the Central Military Commission, positions that need the support of the country’s military. I don’t think that Washington is too concerned right now about a change in the leadership,” said Anthony DiFilippo, professor of Sociology at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and author of the recent “U.S.-Japan-North Korean Security Relations: Irrepressible Interests.”

He added that Washington and Pyongyang are likely to resume bilateral discussions, but not right away.

“The six-party talks are not likely to restart for a while. Washington needs to create the appearance that, because the North Korean launch was a defiant and provocative act that violated United Nations Security Council resolutions, North Korea cannot be immediately rewarded.

Were Washington to agree to bilateral talks too soon, this would open up the Obama administration to criticisms that it is rewarding Pyongyang,” DiFilippo said.

The intense international media coverage generated in the days leading up to the launch, however, was precisely what the North Korean regime wanted, said Robert Boynton, director of Literary Reportage Concentration at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and an expert on media coverage of North Korea.

“A Martian reading newspapers for the past month would think that North Korea was a world power of similar stature to the U.S., China and Japan, not an impoverished country with the gross domestic product of Haiti. If nothing else, the North is brilliant at manipulating the media,” said Boynton,