North Korea is no longer talking to the South. Experts say it may try to create a crisis

North Korea is no longer talking to the South. Experts say it may try to create a crisis

North Korean government media has said that many hotlines will be closed, including a phone from a military to a military and another that aims to connect its leader Kim Jong Un directly and South Korean President Moon Jae In in an instant. These lines were considered important because they can help prevent the occasional military confrontation resulting from a misinterpretation or misjudgment of the work or intent of the other side.

Choi Hyun Soo, a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry, said that North Korea did not answer the phone calls on a military line on Tuesday morning for the first time since its establishment in 2018. Calling the joint liaison office hotline, which North Korea said it closed on Friday, has not been completed. Respond to them as well.

“The lines of communication between the two Koreas must be maintained in accordance with the agreement, because it is the primary means of communication,” the Unification Ministry, the South Korean government agency dealing with everything in North Korea, said in a statement.

“The government will continue to work for peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula with commitment to the inter-Korean agreement.”

Pyongyang said it was giving Seoul the cold shoulder because North Korean defectors in South Korea flew balloons to their former home with leaflets and SD cards, and presumably contained information about the outside world. It is illegal for ordinary North Koreans to consume information that is not approved by the country’s powerful propaganda machine, and this could have severe consequences.

Experts believe Kim’s system could use the publications issue to create a crisis – a tactic in North Korea’s International Relations book that is often used to create a sense of urgency in nascent talks.

Pyongyang claimed that the balloons, sent by a private group, violated the agreement reached at the April 2018 summit, in which the two sides agreed to stop “all hostilities and eliminate their means, including broadcasting via loudspeakers and distributing flyers” along shared borders. . Many communication lines that were closed on Tuesday were created or recreated as part of the same agreement.

“We will not trade our leadership’s dignity for anything, but we defend it at the expense of our lives,” said the statement, released on Tuesday at the state’s North Korea News Agency. “There is no need to sit face-to-face with the South Korean authorities and there is no issue to discuss with them, because they just raised us.”

The statement also said Tuesday’s move was “the first step in the determination to close all means of communication with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary matters.”

It seems that Kim Yoo Jung, Kim Jong Un’s sister and one of the country’s most powerful officials, played a major role in North Korea’s decision to cut off contact with the South.

She and Kim Yong Chul, who served as counterpart to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in talks with the United States, were mentioned by name in Tuesday’s announcement. Also, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) uploaded a piece of Kim Yoo Jung on Friday, referring to the defectors as “illegal dogs” and threatening South Korea, noting that “it is time to hold the owners accountable.”

Fighters for Free North Korea, a non-governmental organization that claimed to have sent the balloons, said it had sent 500,000 flyers, $ 2,000 bills and 1,000 SD cards across the border. The group did not mention what is on the memory cards, but in the past it contained South and West Korean movies and TV shows.

The group posted a picture on its website showing several balloons, including one with a poster decorated with Kim Jong-un’s caricatures and the phrase: “As people go hungry, what’s the use of a nuclear missile, biological chemical weapons and political prison camps? Let’s end Kim Jong-un’s genetic dictatorship!”

The chief of the North Korean Free Combat Group, Park Sang Hak, is a well-known defector. In 2012, North Korean agents tried to assassinate him with a pen-shaped poisonous needle.

Political ploy

The Kim family is treated with semi-divine reverence in the North Korean state media, and insulting any of them could carry a harsh punishment. But the decision to intensify hostilities could be a political ploy aimed at launching inter-Korean talks, which have been stuck essentially neutral for months.

“The inter-Korean contacts are dead and their job is stalled anyway, but Pyeongyang is trying to make the cut-off deal a much bigger deal than it really is,” said Doeon Kim, a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group specializing in Northeast Asian affairs. Nuclear policy.

The first inter-Korean hotline was established in 1971, according to the Unification Ministry. Since then, North Korea has cut off inter-Korean contacts at least five times.

“This situation is not ideal, but the two Koreas have grown accustomed to periods of broken dialogue channels,” Doon Kim said.

The talks have so far failed to achieve many of the main goals set at the April 2018 summit, including ending the Korean War and re-establishing inter-Korean economic projects.

Among the main sticking points are sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and the United States on North Korea. Pyongyang badly needs hard currency, but sanctions prevent the country from selling most of the items of value or engaging in profitable joint ventures with the south.

Andrei Lankov, a North Korean expert at Kokmin University in Seoul, said Moon was unlikely to do anything violating the sanctions for fear of alienating the United States, South Korea treaty ally, or President Donald Trump – who apparently did not want to He pays for long-term alliances at the same price that his predecessors had.

North Korea is now trying to place South Korea in a corner while continuing to keep the United States in a critical position, hoping that a sense of urgency in Seoul will push the moon to cooperate under Kim Jong-un’s terms.

Lankoff said the North Koreans “don’t want the Moon Jae government to feel comfortable. They want to create a calculated crisis, a controlled crisis.” “North Korea needs a crisis in relations with South Korea, but it will not attract the United States directly.

But the problem is Moon’s rise to political height after a better performance than expected in the legislative elections earlier this year. His voters are not particularly interested in the escalation cycle with North Korea – it is something the South Koreans are used to. Disconnections are likely to fail to register as a major issue in South Korea, where the economy and the new coronary virus epidemic are the most pressing concerns today.

Lankoff said North Korea’s efforts to create a sense of the crisis in South Korea “have been markedly failing.”

“However, it is not necessarily a good sign,” he said. “Lack of response probably means that North Korea begins to increase in size and increase intensity of provocation.”

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