What’s driving North Korea’s actions toward the South?

4 08 2020

By Deutsche Welle (2020/07/14) Leonid Petrov, a former chair of Korean Studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, says the North’s destruction of the liaison office is intended as a sign that “Pyongyang does not need Seoul any more in the context of this new Cold War.”

Whereas North Korea was frantically trying to build bridges with Seoul and the United States just three years ago, as international sanctions bit hard into its economy, President Trump has since fallen out spectacularly with China and Russia. That has given Pyongyang the opportunity to rebuild its own ties with Beijing and Moscow; both now see North Korea as a useful geo-political bargaining chip and are likely to continue their support for Kim’s regime.

“By blowing up the liaison office, the North is saying that there is no need to communicate with the South anymore. I suspect they may soon start testing weapons again, and even possibly nuclear warheads,” he added. “This new Cold War is actually very good news for Kim because his regime can now thrive.”

South Korea convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday afternoon and troops were ordered to step up surveillance of the North and be prepared for further provocations in the tense border area. The Pentagon had previously stated that it was keeping a “robust” defensive posture on the peninsula and that US forces were ready to respond to any situation that might evolve.

Given that the North has now followed through on its threats to destroy the liaison office, its next move may very well be to send troops back into areas on the border that were demilitarized under the 2018 military agreement. It is possible that troops will return to Kaesong and the Mount Kumgang tourist zone, on the fareast coast, where military installations on both sides were destroyed two years ago.

The South Korean government has reiterated that it intends to stand by the terms of the agreement and has called on Pyongyang to do the same.


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