A sure sign of that decline can be seen in a Wednesday message from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to Kim Tae-hyo, political science professor at Seoul-based Sungkyunkwan University.
The dictator wished Xi "great success," according to state media, as the latter received a second five-year term at the 19th Party Congress. But the overall tone was less cordial than previous correspondence.
When Xi was first appointed five years ago, Pyongyang sent a six-sentence-long congratulatory message that included phrases such as "strength of the mutual leadership, friendship and brotherhood," said Sungkyunkwan University's Kim. This time, the note was only four sentences and made no mention of brotherhood or friendship, he continued.