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State Department Spox Calls North Korea the ‘DPRK’

Joins China Daily, Pravda, and KCNA.

4:03 PM, Aug 30, 2013 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
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When it comes to North Korea, it’s helpful to keep a simple rule of thumb in mind: don’t trust anybody who refers to the country as the “DPRK.” (That would be the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the country’s official – and yes, bleakly ironic – name.) Calling North Korea the “DPRK” is not only woefully misleading – there’s nothing democratic, republican, or people-oriented about the brutal dictatorship – but it also lends legitimacy to the ruling regime. It’s little surprise that those who call North Korea the “DPRK” constitute a real rogue’s gallery: the China Daily and Xinhua, China’s state-run news sources, both do so, as does Moscow’s Pravda, and of course KCNA, the North Korean news service. Non-authoritarian news sources, meanwhile call a spade a spade. Heck, even the New York Times always refers to North Korea as North Korea. 

Foggy Bottum

It would appear, however, that our own State Department does not. In an announcement today that North Korea has rescinded an invitation for a visit to a U.S. envoy, State Department spokesman Marie Harf first said in a written statement that she was "surprised and disappointed by North Korea's decision" before adding, "We have sought clarification from the DPRK about its decision and have made every effort so that Ambassador King's trip could continue as planned or take place at a later date.” It was strange indeed that Harf would extend such a courtesy to Pyongyang, particularly given that the purpose of the envoy's visit was to have been to secure the release of an American that it kidnapped several months ago and sent to the gulag. 

In any event, let’s hope this isn’t the start of a trend. If it is, at this time next week, Harf will probably be referring to Kim Jong-un as the "Great Successor." 

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