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Tensions across Korean Peninsula increase as year-end reaches closer

Tensions across Korean Peninsula increase as year-end reaches closer

Posted December. 05, 2019 07:41,   

Updated December. 05, 2019 07:50


As U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who used to show off their close relationship even after the breakdown of the Hanoi negotiation in February this year imply the possibility of using military force against each other, tensions across the Korean Peninsula are on the rise. Depending on the level of “major steps” to be taken by North Korea in the event that the resumed negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea come to a breakdown this year, it will be decided whether the negotiations between the two will continue or be terminated.

As President Trump called Kim “Rocket Man” again on Tuesday (local time) for the first time in two years and three months and mentioned the possibility of using military power against North Korea, the socialist country immediately confronted Trump’s statement. Kim Jong Un implied Wednesday that he will take a tougher stance in the case that the U.S. does not make any concessions by the end of this year during the broadcasting of his 49-day climbing of Paektu Mountain on a white horse.

In addition, Kim also announced on the same day that the fifth plenary meeting of the seventh Central Committee of the North Korean Workers’ Party will be convened at the end of this month. During the fourth plenary meeting held on April 10, Kim emphasized self-reliance 25 times by saying that self-reliance should be obtained as a tool for prosperity. “We will remain patient until the end of this year and wait for the U.S.’ decision,” Kim said during his administrative policy speech during the first meeting of the 14th Supreme People’s Assembly on April 12.

Against this backdrop, if the next plenary meeting is held eight months after the previous one without any progress on the working-level negotiations between the U.S. and the North, harsh criticism as well as provocations against South Korea and the U.S. are expected to be raised during the meeting. “North Korea is highly likely to strongly condemn the U.S.’ attitude to negotiations and South Korea’s attitude towards the North while publicly announcing the suspension of denuclearization talks and its stance to strengthen its position as a nuclear state,” said Jung Sung-jang, head of Research and Planning Department at Sejong Institute.

In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com · Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com