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Kim Jong Un's misjudgment on 'self-reliance'

Posted April. 12, 2019 08:16,   

Updated April. 12, 2019 08:16


North Korea held a Supreme People's Assembly meeting on Thursday to reaffirm its position that it would pursue self-reliant economic development and not give in to international sanctions on the impoverished communist state. At a ruling Korean Workers’ Party meeting on the previous day, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "underscored the need to more vigorously advance socialist construction by dint of self-supporting national economy ... so as to deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who go with bloodshot eyes miscalculating that sanctions can bring (North Korea) to its knees." A U.S. think tank said in an analysis of satellite imagery showing more than 200 military vehicles gathered at the Mirim Parade Training Facility near Pyongyang that there are signs indicating that North Korea is preparing a military parade.

The North's moves, including Kim's remarks, are Pyongyang's message to the United States ahead of the South Korea-U.S. summit. However, Pyongyang remained ambiguous about its external strategy. The North Korean leader has made it clear that he intends to take a long-term posture against international sanctions while shelving the option of making nuclear or missile provocations. He is also preparing a show of force such as a military parade mobilizing a large number of troops and people. Still, Kim refrained from directly criticizing Washington. After all, his calculation is that he will wait for a change of U.S. attitude, namely the outcome of the South Korea-U.S. summit, while maintaining the framework of negotiations.

However, the United States is unlikely to respond the way the North wants it to. The Donald Trump administration reiterates the principle of maintaining sanctions until the North's denuclearization, while leaving some rooms for flexibility to woo Pyongyang to the negotiating table. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that he would like to leave "a little room" in the sanctions against North Korea in case of "substantial progress" in its denuclearization. After all, the ball is in North Korea's court.

At a time when U.S.-North Korea war of nerves are in full swing, South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a summit with his U.S. counterpart in Washington early today to discuss ways to coordinate the two allies' efforts to induce the North's return to the negotiating table. Unless Pyongyang changes its attitude, however, Washington will take an even tougher stance. It could put more pressures on Pyongyang with additional sanctions. Time is not on the North's side. Under the situation of barely feeding its people, the North's resistance would only increase the pain on its regime and people.