04 January 2018
In his televised New Year speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered a two-pronged message of trepidation and hope.
He warned the United States of the “reality” of North Korea’s nuclear deterrent. He then called for peace on the Korean peninsula, adding that his representatives should start talks with their South Korean counterparts “as soon as possible” on sending a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea next month. Unsurprisingly, South Korean President Moon Jae In welcomed these overtures with open arms.
The question is why North Korea is making a conciliatory move towards dialogue now? After all, it did snub previous olive branches from President Moon.
Increasingly, the opinion seems to be that this two-pronged message stems from Pyongyang’s confidence that its burgeoning nuclear weapons capability, as it stands, is perceivably credible in deterring the US. Some observers have also suggested that Pyongyang’s conciliatory approach towards Seoul may signal that it is feeling the impact of current sanctions and that the ensuing rapprochement could be leveraged to lighten trade restrictions on it.
…Dr Graham Ong-Webb is a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 24/01/2018