In South Korea, on Sunday an urgent meeting was held after the sister of North Korea’s president cautioned of military action against South Korea in the newest series of increasing tensions between the two once-united countries.
Kim Yo Jong, acting as an advisor and assistant to her brother, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, said she would have full right to take the next move of retaliation against South Korea to North Korea’s military in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA on Saturday.
Kim, who rose among the ranks of North Korea’s power structure, did not outright say what that next course of action could be, or exactly when it will occur, but she emphasized: “I feel it is high time to surely break with the South Korean authorities. We will soon take the next action.”
“By exercising my power authorized by the Supreme Leader, our Party, and the state, I gave an instruction to the… department in charge of the affairs with (the) enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” she said.
“Our army, too, will determine something for cooling down our people’s resentment and surely carry it out, I believe.”
A spokesperson for South Korea’s presidential office The Blue House, said on Sunday that the country’s national security council held an emergency video conference to further discuss the possibility of the potential threat, as well as the most appropriate ways in which they can respond to said threats.
The Unification Ministry, who is in charge of relations with North Korea, said in a statement the South and the North Koreas must do everything in their power to ensure all inter-Korean agreements are respected.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a separate statement that his department was assessing the situation with utmost seriousness and that they are carefully observing North Korean movements. “South Korean military is maintaining resolute military readiness to respond to all situations,” the ministry’s statement said.
Kim’s statement on Saturday was after her announcement earlier this week that North Korea was temporarily banning all communication with South Korea, a move that some analysts believe could be an attempt to fabricate a crisis and force yieldings from its southern neighbor.
North Korea said it was angered by defectors who have fled to South Korea and the regular flying of balloons over the border that drop propaganda pamphlets. It’s also peculiar that those flyers aren’t the only thing floated. In fact, the content of these packages is very diverse, ranging from simple stuff like rice to USB sticks with banned western media.
South Korea answered by saying it would take legal action against two groups that took responsibility for those operations.
Kim Jin Ah, a North Korean expert at Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a government research center, in Seoul, said North Korea is using propaganda pamphlets as a justification to break “the doldrum” in its negotiations with the United States.
Talks with Washington regarding nuclear armaments remain at the status quo after Kim Jong Un’s last summit with President Donald Trump in 2019 broke down without an appropriate arrangement and North Korea urgently needs support due to the harsh international sanctions which the US itself imposed, as well the struggle the entire world is dealing right now in coronavirus pandemic.
“North Korea is using South Korea as a scapegoat and a stepping stone to build the context and the momentum for its engagement with the U.S. as the ultimate North Korean strategic goal is attracting the attention of the U.S., and President Trump in particular,” Kim said.
Kim Jong Un didn’t address the economic struggle which his country is currently facing and many are estimating how seriously they are affected, especially due to being forced to close their border with their biggest ally China.
Although the official stance of North Korea is that there hasn’t been a single outbreak in their country, many foreign experts are extremely doubtful of that assessment.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a lecturer in international relations at King’s College London, said it’s almost expected from the North Korean perspective that the government would try to deflect the situation from domestic tribulations by artificially inflating tensions with South Korea.
“It makes sense for Kim Yo Jong to lead, or be seen as leading, these increasing tensions. This way she can show that she will be tough with South Korea if necessary,” he said.
Pacheco Pardo said these moves can also be a way for North Korea to try to push the South Korean government to pile on the pressure on the Trump administration to allow sanctions exemptions or even relief.
“It makes sense for North Korea to focus on raising tensions with South Korea, at least until we know the outcome of the U.S. November election and we can see what type of dynamic relations between Washington and Pyongyang will follow next year,” he added.