Browsing the reports of North Korea’s state mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency, can be — in its own strange way — a ramble of discovery. Even setting aside such fare as the threats to “turn the strongholds of the enemies into a sea of fire,” there are intriguing glimpses of some of the official comings and goings in Pyongyang. More often these reports serve to inspire questions rather than answer them — but perhaps even that can have some value.
One such item turned up among the April 18 KCNA postings, headlined “Palestinian Ambassador to DPRK gives reception.” It caught my eye, as an interesting bit of background to North Korea’s frenzy of threats plus missile and nuclear tests. Although a lot of attention has been paid lately to the ties between North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Iran’s terrorist clients such as Hamas and Hezbollah, the news has not been rife with stories about how Palestinian Authority officials are amusing themselves these days in Pyongyang — which treats the Palestinian Authority as a state, complete with embassy (scroll down here for a photo). According to KCNA, it’s a case of mutual affection, with the Palestinian envoy to Pyongyang, Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan, recently delivering to Kim Jong Un, on behalf of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, a floral basket to celebrate both the birthday of North Korea’s founding tyrant, the late Kim Il Sung, and the first anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s ascension to first secretary of the North Korean Workers’ Party.
As shindigs go this PA reception in North Korea sounded as dreary as the surrounding streets of the Pyongyang diplomatic district (or maybe you had to be there to appreciate the more festive aspects). KCNA provided a perfectly tedious account of how the Palestinian envoy “gave a reception at his embassy on Thursday to mark the birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.” There was a list of North Korean officials who attended, and a reminder of the special bonds between Pyongyang and the Palestinians, going back to the days of Kim Il Sung and Yasser Arafat. The recitation closed with the North Korean assertion that “The Korean people will extend invariable support and solidarity to the Palestinian people in their just cause to retake the legitimate national rights and found an independent state with Kuds as its capital.”
No surprise there. But it did leave me wondering. If the Palestinian Authority maintains in Pyongyang a facility that North Korea regards as an official embassy, complete with receptions and gifts of floral baskets, then what does the North Korean government enjoy, in the way of reciprocity, in Ramallah? Presumably there are experts who know the answer, but I have done some looking online, and have yet to find it. Is there an office? A trading company? A restaurant?A news service? Just asking…