State news agencies of both the Syrian and North Korean regimes were busy this week, tasked with reporting a visit by delegates from Syria’s ruling Baath Party to Pyongyang.

Both the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) used the visit to express key propaganda messages to their home audiences.

Bashar al-Assad is a popular figure in the DPRK

For KCNA, the visit was — unsurprisingly — all about North Korean leader Kim Jong U and his roles, First secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army”.

With that introduction of the way, KCNA explained that the Syrians were visiting to participate in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Korean people’s victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War”.

Ah, so the story is all about the Great Fatherland Liberation War — a.k.a. the Korean War of 1950-53 and the victories of Kim Jong Un (even though he was not alive at the time)?

Well, not at SANA. For the Syrian news agency’s reporters, the visit was all about North Korea’s unwavering support for Bashar al-Assad: Democratic Korea’s President Kim Jong Un affirmed his country’s absolute solidarity with Syria in the face of imperialism, adding that the US and Israel will never be able to defeat Syria.

Kim Jong Un impressed by the juxtaposition of Assad and a fountain

And not only Assad but all his loyal subjects got a shout-out from Kim: President Jong Un expressed during the meeting his greetings to President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian people, noting that the Syrian participation in the celebrations constitutes a great encouragement for the people of Democratic Korea.

Opening statements made, it is on to the main story. For KCNA, Kim Jong Un is still out front, with the Syrian delegation respectfully offering “warmest congratulations” to both the Leader and the “friendly Korean people”.

But what are those congratulations for? In case the reader forgot a few paragraphs earlier, KCNA helpfully reminds,
The occasion of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War”.

And the Leader’s personality shines through — like an update of Pride and Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh — as he “warmly welcomed” the Syrians who, he condescendedly added, had “made a long trip to the DPRK”.


Why had the Syrian delegation made the trip? Can anybody remember?

For taking part in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War

Still in his warm welcome, Kim Jong Un “extended a militant salute to President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian people”. Indeed, it was a “great encouragement” to North Koreans that Syria had despatched delegates.

What was their destination?

“The celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the war”

And, incidentally, the two sides discussed bilateral relations in a “a friendly and amicable atmosphere”.

SANA, inconceivably, misses the Fatherland Liberation War — at least the one of 1953 rather than 2013. Instead, it records a condemnation of “all forms of foreign interference by the international imperialism in Syria’s internal affairs”.

SANA’s Kim Jong Un was particularly concerned by the fact that if the aggression on Syria continues, it would drag the entire Middle East into a conflict of severe consequences that would threaten the international peace and security

In case that is too dire a story-line, SANA highlights Kim Jong Un’s confidence that Assad will be “victorious” —“thanks to the unity between the Syrian people, army, and leadership”.

SANA notes that the Syrian delegation — clearly gratified by such overwhelming support from Kim Jung Un and the Korean people for “just Arab causes, particularly those of Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan” — ended on a note of mutual defiance of the international community.

North Korea, the Syrian delegation said, had a “right to possessing peaceful nuclear energy…[for] “the development and progress of its society”, which would help “unify the Korean peninsula”.

[Editor’s Note: SANA did not touch on whether the South Koreans wished to be unified with nuclear energy.]