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North Korea's inconsistent behavior

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By Son Hyo-jong

The momentum for dialogue on the Korean Peninsula created during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games has been frozen in just a little over two years. Since the end of the second U.S.―North Korea summit in 2019, North Korea has gradually increased its level of provocations.

On June 4, Kim Yo-jong, the first vice department director of the Workers' Party Central Committee, criticized the South Korean government for its failure to prevent North Korean defectors' groups from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets over the border to the North. She also threated to demolish the Inter―Korean liaison office.

On June 16, the North turned the threat into action by blowing up the office in the border town of Gaeseong. The General Staff of the (North) Korean People's Army also threatened military action against the South.

In the meantime, Pyongyang has used both verbal threats and provocative actions. And it seems that the North is trying to send a message to Seoul and Washington by deliberately raising tensions.

A week after the demolition of the liaison office, however, Chairman Kim Jong-un suddenly decided to suspend any military action plan against the South while he was presiding over a preliminary meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party. Thus, it is hard to figure out the purpose of North Korea's harsh rhetoric and suspended action plan.

Based on the North's recent discourse and behavior, its intentions and calculations can be interpreted in several ways. First, North Korea seems to be trying to pressure the United States to pay attention to it.

In recent years, the U.S.―China trade competition has been the critical issue in Northeast Asia. And this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a serious threat. For President Donald Trump, who is likely to be re-elected,........

© The Korea Times