The temporary pause in Pyongyang’s military action plan has generated a tense calm between the two countries and several theories about what could happen in the current situation.
Experts differ in their assessments of what may happen after Kim Jong-un’s unexpected decision to postpone the military action plan proposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Some explain that the North Korean leader has come to believe in Seoul’s assurances to resolve the issue of the spread of leaflets by North Korean defectors, while others consider that Kim yo-Jong, the north Korean leader’s sister, has stepped up the escalation between the two countries, with Kim acting as “good police” and putting a pause in the conflict.
However, the likelihood of the latest version is low because instructions to destroy the inter-Korean communications headquarters, move military personnel to the border and organize demonstrations condemning the actions in Seoul are not possible without the approval of the North Korean leader, believes Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, South Korea.
According to the expert told Sputnik, Kim Jong-un’s pause would be a strategy to see how South Korea’s reaction and future actions will be after it offered assurances of resolving the issue of activists violating the inter-Korean agreements as soon as possible.
At the same time, it cannot be ruled out that this correction of Pyongyang’s foreign policy may have been motivated by internal considerations.
“With Pyongyang committed to the idea of an advance with an emphasis on its economy, for which it is even necessary to send military personnel to construction sites, the excessive pressure of international tensions, its escalation to a crisis, can be seen as a negative factor,” professor Kim Dong-yup said.
He added that North Korea could also pause to find a more serious reason to go to war. Therefore, the expert believes that if the South Korean government does not seize this opportunity and does not quickly deliver on its promises, it will be a signal to North Korea that the lesson has not been learned and needs to be demonstrated in action.
Kim Dong-yup says it should not be forgotten that, in addition to the military action plan, other military policy projects, reports and resolutions that reflect national measures to further strengthen the country’s military deterrence have been discussed.
“Although the military action plan has been postponed, the other items on the agenda are likely to be adopted. These should include the development of new weapons to modernise military capability, as well as the demonstration of new strategic weapons.
Therefore, the current suspension of action against South Korea may instead be related to preparations for the launch of ballistic missiles from submarines or the demonstration of new strategic weapons. That is, military actions against the United States at worst,” he said.
Photo / KCNA VIA KNS
North Korea missile launch (reference image)
The expert also does not rule out that this change in Pyongyang’s position may be related to the secret contacts made by South Korea to prevent the situation from worsening. Despite this, North Korea said it had nothing to discuss with Seoul, and even revealed south Korea’s secret proposal for talks, which was strongly rejected by the North.
Does it be up to South Korea to save the situation?
Cheong Seong-Chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, believes that the breakdown of bilateral relations is a situation that cannot be avoided.
“I believe that North Korea will now completely cut off its relations with the South and look for ways to maintain its system and develop it further, gradually increasing humanitarian exchange and economic cooperation with China and Russia. As such, a deterioration of inter-Korean relations is inevitable in the near future, regardless of the reaction of the South Korean government,” he said.
In his view, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was initially an almost impossible mission and the failure of talks between the U.S. and North Korea in 2019 makes this goal increasingly unrealistic. Therefore, the expert suggests that the South Korean government should consider changing priorities and preparing a plan to strengthen nuclear deterrence as soon as possible.
“If the situation continues, as so far … North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities will not only increase over time, but denuclearization will be completely impossible,” Cheong said.
The expert believes that to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, Seoul needs to offer North Korea comprehensive plans for inter-Korean cooperation that are viable and that may be of interest to the North.
“Kim Jong-un had previously had a tough policy towards the South, and when he thought he was unfavorable to North Korea, he suddenly switched to a policy of appeasement, and then returned to hardlining.”
“Therefore, there is still the possibility of … the North to return to the policy of appeasement. And South Korea must now think about how it will restore confidence, ease military tension and restore inter-Korean relations,” he concluded.
The views expressed in this matter may not necessarily coincide with those of Sputnik’s wording