9 June 2020   Leave a comment

North Korea has severed all communications with South Korea and has announced that it will treat South Korea as an “enemy”. The move comes in the wake of a decision by South Korea to send propaganda material to North Korea from North Korean defectors. The materials have been sent previously and they probably came as no surprise to North Korean officials. But, according to NBC News, “The decision carried further significance because it was attributed in part to Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has risen in prominence in recent weeks. The blogsite, 38 North, argues that the attribution is significant:

“This announcement builds on the anti-South Korea statements and media campaign that began on June 4 with Kim Yo Jong’s statement—her third so far this year, and her second aimed at South Korea. Kim’s statement was followed by an unusual statement issued by the party’s United Front Department, which in turn was followed up by commentaries in the party newspaper Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), and an ongoing series of rallies by front groups. This campaign seems too nicely choreographed, and too clearly aimed at the North Korean domestic audience, to believe that Pyongyang was acting on impulse simply in response to a single balloon incident.”

Daniel DePetris, writing for The National Interest, believes that the move represents a significant setback for South Korean President Moon’s peace initiative to the North. But it also represents a setback for the US-North Korean relationship as well:

“At its core, the stoppage of the phone calls is more worrying for what it represents: the near-death of Moon’s signature foreign policy initiative. Time will tell whether the North Koreans are seeking to pressure Seoul into making additional concessions or whether, as seems likely, they’ve made the strategic calculation that engaging with the South is a waste of time as long as Washington holds a veto over South Korea’s policy.”

There has been very little attention given to North Korea by the Trump Administration recently. Since there was little evidence to support any hope for an agreement with North Korea this year, the Trump Administration apparently decided that there was little to gain in terms of the presidential election in November.

Posted June 9, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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