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N. Korean ruling party agrees to strengthen military, national security: KCNA, By Dagyum Ji

N. Korean ruling party agrees to strengthen military, national security: KCNA

N. Korean ruling party agrees to strengthen military, national security: KCNA

North Korea’s ruling party this week agreed on a series of measures to further strengthen the country’s military and improve national security, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Friday. DPRK leader Kim Jong Un presided over the first Enlarged Meeting of the 7th Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The View from Jingshan: Chinese observers react to flurry of Sino-DPRK diplomacy, By John Petrushka

The View from Jingshan: Chinese observers react to flurry of Sino-DPRK diplomacy

As Pyongyang’s relations with the outside world improve, Beijing leverages its traditional ties

As North Korea continued its diplomatic opening to the international community with the North-South summit, the announcement of denuclearization measures, and Kim Jong Un’s unexpected visit to Dalian to meet with Xi Jinping, Chinese media remained optimistic and congratulatory of the Chinese and North Korean leaders. Below the surface, however, developments suggested that China remains cautious  with the outside world improve.


No plans to scale back joint military drills: Pentagon, By Leo Byrne

No plans to scale back joint military drills: Pentagon

Pentagon spokesperson says no conversation about changing the scope of the drills

The Pentagon on Thursday said there were no plans to scale back military drills with South Korea, despite North Korea threatening to cancel a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Speaking at a regular press briefing, Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White said there had been no conversations about changing the joint drills, which are defensive in nature.

“The scope of our exercises has not changed … These are alliance decisions, this is something that we do to ensure the readiness of both our forces as well as the South Korean forces,” White told reporters.

“There has been no talk of reducing anything, there has been no talk of changing our scope. These are annual exercises and we are very transparent about them.”

In a dramatic turnaround, the North Korean government returned to its more typical rhetoric on Tuesday, suspending talks with Seoul and threatening to scrap a meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for June 12 in Singapore.

The North Koreans were reacting to annual Max Thunder air combat drills, which involve fighter aircraft from both the U.S. and South Korean armed forces. The drills began on May 11 and involve more than 100 warplanes.

Since the announcement, North Korea appears to have doubled down on the diplomatic pullback, with a senior DPRK official adding on Thursday that there will be no further meetings with South Korea until “issues” are resolved.

Pyongyang also appeared to walk back on any commitment to denuclearization, saying it did not need U.S. economic help or aid in exchange for its nuclear weapons.

“The U.S. is clamoring that they will offer economic rewards and benefits if we abandon nuclear arsenals,” the DPRK’s first Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan said on Wednesday.

“But we’ve never built our economy while having expectations on the U.S, and we will never make such deal.”

Despite Pyongyang’s sudden cold feet, Washington said it is preparing for the summit as before during a White House press conference also held on Thursday.

“The president is prepared and will be ready to meet, and we’re continuing to move forward with the preparations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

“If the North Koreans want to meet, we’ll be there, and at this point, there is not a lot of change beyond that. Certainly not in our process.”


N. Korea to get protections if deal reached, could be “decimated” if not: Trump, By Hamish Macdonald

N. Korea to get protections if deal reached, could be “decimated” if not: Trump

President suggests military intervention “most likely” if agreement not reached

Kim Jong Un will receive very strong protections in a denuclearization deal with the U.S., President Donald Trump said on Thursday, but added that if no deal is reached then North Korea will most likely face the “Libya model” in which the country was “decimated.”

No further inter-Korean meetings until “issues” resolved: DPRK official, By Hamish Macdonald

No further inter-Korean meetings until issues resolved: DPRK official

Ri Son Gwon accuses ROK of “ignorant and incompetent” behavior, rules out imminent return to talks

No inter-Korean meetings will take place until Seoul rectifies ongoing North Korean grievances with its South Korean counterparts, a senior DPRK official warned on Thursday.

The announcement follows the North’s abrupt cancellation on Wednesday of a scheduled inter-Korean meeting.

In a statement, Pyongyang cited the staging of the Max Thunder joint drills, as well as a recent press conference by former DPRK diplomat Thae Yong-ho, among the reasons for its having withdrawn from talks.

In comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday, Chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country Ri Son Gwon criticized the ROK on Thursday for its response to the cancellation.

Citing the above concerns, Ri said “the DPRK took a resolute step of postponing the north-south high-level talks indefinitely until the south Korean authorities take a responsible measure, and notified it to them and made this public through a KCNA report.”

But, far from thinking over the meaning of the step taken by the DPRK and taking necessary follow-up measures, they went so senseless as to express ‘regret’ and ‘urge’ something,” he added.

The comments likely refer to a statement on Wednesday by Seoul’s Ministry of Unification, which expressed regret at what it called the unilateral cancelation of the meeting and urged Pyongyang to resume meetings “immediately.”

“It is regrettable that North Korea unilaterally postponed the South-North high-level meeting citing the annual joint ROK-U.S. air exercises as it does not correspond to the fundamental spirit and the purpose of the Panmunjom Declaration…,” MOU spokesperson Baik Tae-hyun said in a statement.

Ri – who has led several high-level DPRK meetings with South Korean counterparts this year and was set to lead the talks on Wednesday – also on Thursday described the Moon Jae-in administration as “ignorant and incompetent” and accused Seoul of being “devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation.”

“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of south Korea,” it read.

The tone is in stark contrast to North Korea’s prior communications towards the South since the beginning of year, which culminated in the first inter-Korean summit in over ten years and the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration.

However, this week has seen the DPRK lash out at both Seoul and Washington, even threatening to cancel a scheduled summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump set for June 12.


Trump’s North Korea road trip: no backseat drivers please, By Frank Jannuzi and Keith Luse

Trump’s North Korea road trip: no backseat drivers please

The President must make it clear that now is not the time for mixed messaging

After first prematurely celebrating a historic “breakthrough” on the Korean peninsula, many American analysts and journalists have now made the snap calculation that Chairman Kim Jong Un plans to walk away from the June 12 summit with President Trump, replaying North Korea’s well-established pattern of raising tensions, probing engagement, and dashing hopes.

Perhaps. But as veteran radio broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, what about “the rest of the story”?

A massive trust deficit is the operational baseline for U.S.-DPRK relations. The DPRK fears the U.S. intends to overthrow its government, and blames U.S. “hostile policies” for its decision to develop nuclear weapons. For their part, the President, members of Congress, and the American people are frankly exasperated by North Korea’s cycle of provocative behavior, with harsh rhetoric, missile launches, and nuclear tests often followed by seasons of diplomatic outreach.

President Trump’s approach of “maximum pressure and engagement” sought to break this cycle – imposing tough, unilateral economic sanctions, complimented by multinational sanctions imposed by the United Nations while using U.S. diplomatic leverage to isolate the DPRK internationally.

His pressure tactics coincided with two significant changes on the peninsula: the election of a progressive South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is leading North-South rapprochement, and the emergence of a more confident, politically secure Kim Jong Un, now commanding a limited nuclear deterrent and willing to explore alternative futures for himself and his country.

 

Top MHI-NK Stories from around the web:

North Korea plays hardball? – NKNews Podcast ep.19

North Korea plays hardball? – NKNews Podcast ep.19

The NK News team discusses U.S-ROK war games, nuke dismantlement, and a new resort in Wonsan

North Korea has begun to voice displeasure with what they perceive as South Korean enablement of bad behavior–in this case, war games with the U.S. and inviting high-profile defector Thae Yong-ho to speak at the National Assembly. The NK News team takes a look ahead and examines what appear to be new obstacles to peace.

About the podcast: The “North Korea News Podcast” is a weekly podcast hosted exclusively by MHI-NK News, covering all things DPRK: from news to extended interviews with leading experts and analysts in the field and insight from our very own journalists.

Listen to the full episode at MHI-NK News !

Top MHI-NK Stories from around the web:

Seoul to ‘wait and see’ as NK threatens to freeze talks 

(Korea Herald) Citing the Max Thunder exercise between South Korean and US air forces as the reason, Pyongyang called off high-level talks with Seoul on Wednesday, and threatened to cancel the summit talks with Washington scheduled to be held next month in Singapore.

On Thursday, Ri Son-gwon, chairman of the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, slammed the South and a former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South, suggesting his recent critical remarks against Pyongyang were another reason for the cancellation of the talks.“Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the North-South high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea,” Ri said in comments carried by North Korea‘s official Korean Central News Agency.

Thae Yong-ho, the North’s former deputy ambassador to the UK, said during a lecture at the National Assembly on Monday that it will be impossible for the North to completely denuclearize. He also held a ceremony at the parliament to celebrate the publication of his new book which is critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“They let a human scum hurt the dignity of our supreme leadership and social system, and speak ill of the historic Panmunjeom Declaration at the National Assembly,” Ri was quoted as saying.“The direction of the future North-South relations will entirely depend on the behavior of the South Korean authorities.”

A senior Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters on Friday that the presidential office can only “wait and see” in regard to Ri’s strong warnings against the South.In response to a question on whether the presidential office has identified the North’s “true intention” behind the suspension of the high-level talks as it said earlier, the official said: “We don’t know, and even if we knew, it would be difficult to speak to the press about it.”


Kim’s game of smoke and mirrors 

Gambar terkait

(Korea Times)  It’s not enough that North Korea should abruptly cancel South-North talks on military tensions and another long-awaited round of reunions of fast-fading families divided by the 1950-53 Korean War. Now we’re not even sure Kim Jong-un will go through with his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.It’s hard to tell what will happen next in the era of fake news. Or, if fake news is a bit of a distortion, then misleading news. The most misleading story on the near horizon is the shutdown of North Korea’s nuclear test site at Punggye-ri. Next week we’ll witness, live on TV, destruction of the site in the mountainous northeast as evidence of Kim’s willingness to talk about giving up his nuclear program when or if he sees Trump in Singapore on June 12.

The Punggye-ri site was already largely destroyed over the course of six nuclear tests, climaxed last September by the explosion of a hydrogen bomb. That blast caved in portions of the mountain into which North Korean engineers had planted it. Journalists invited to the scene should hear explosions blowing up some of the remaining tunnels whose doors will be sealed. Already, engineers have done away with much of the wreckage.Kim is staging the event to show his good faith about giving up his nukes while we search in vain for signs he’s going to open up the doors of the Yongbyon nuclear complex and welcome foreign engineers and technicians deployed to pick up his treasured warheads. Nor is it likely he will assent to removal of the reactor that produced the plutonium for them, though he may consider locking it up as in the era of the 1994 Geneva framework agreement.


For young defectors, life in the South is a real drag

Hasil gambar untuk For young defectors, life in the South is a real drag

(JoongAng Ilbo) Despite growing interest in North Korean society after the inter-Korean summit last month, young defectors are still battling prejudice and struggling to find jobs in the South.It wasn’t easy for one young defector surnamed Han to land a part-time job after she arrived in the South.

When Han settled in Seoul six years ago, she was rejected by an employer after she confessed that she was from the North. “We don’t accept North Koreans here,” she was told.

When Han finally landed a job at a pizza place, she was fired after calling pickles “salted cucumbers” due to the linguistic differences between the two Koreas.“I was yelled at for using North Korean speech before I was fired,” she said.

With dim prospects for employment, some defectors are studying in graduate school while others are working at civic organizations, as those jobs are easier to find than those at companies.“We don’t say we came to graduate school because we couldn’t find a job,” said a 28-year-old student surnamed Lee. “But many of us decide to enroll in graduate school to find refuge here, even if we find studying meaningless.”


Trump Can’t Afford to Admit His Failures With North Korea

(The Atlantic) The administration has no choice now but to carry on the pretense that the negotiations are proceeding favorably. “U.S. options in the Korean peninsula depend heavily on the cooperation of South Korea. Trump has now thoroughly frightened and alienated South Korean opinion.”

 South Korea’s dovish president, Moon Jae In, was elected with only 41 percent of the vote. Polls now show his approval rating in the mid-70s, because of his success in drawing Trump away from “fire and fury” and toward negotiations. As Robert Kelly of Pusan National University in South Korea observes, revulsion against Trump has consolidated a dovish consensus in South Korea.The South Korean leadership is not only seeking to constrain Trump’s options—it is advertising that constraint to the world. In August 2017, Moon asserted a veto over any U.S. military operations on the peninsula. Maybe Moon can enforce that veto. Maybe not. But U.S. strategic planners have been put on notice that America’s most important ally in this theater wants no part of a Trump-led war. Under the circumstances, pretending to believe in the success of a Trump-Kim summit may become the least-bad option inside the Pentagon as well as in Seoul.

But the Trump administration may have little choice except to oversell the summit for another reason, this time of its own making: Before actually booking a Korean success, it committed itself to a second confrontation, against Iran.

Two nuclear crises in one summer is strong coffee, even for a John Bolton National Security Council. If the administration is to prosecute a vigorous policy versus Iran, it needs to de-escalate in northeast Asia. A pretend-success at the summit is—at this point—probably the only way to achieve that de-escalation.


Pentagon Says North Korea’s Regime Has Staked Its Survival on Nuclear Weapons

Hasil gambar untuk Pentagon Says North Korea’s Regime Has Staked Its Survival on Nuclear Weapons

(Bloomberg) North Korea is making strides in its cyber warfare abilities and has staked its survival on the rapid development of nuclear weapons, according to a Pentagon report, signaling the difficulties the U.S. confronts in seeking the complete “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.

Kim Jong Un’s reclusive regime possesses “increasingly sophisticated cyber warfare capabilities” that are “capable of damaging and disruptive cyberattacks,” according to the newly obtained assessment sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

At its heart, Kim’s regime “embraces the worldview of a garrison state, cultivating fears of an imminent threat and external hostility, which serves to justify draconian internal security controls, vast expenditures on the military, and the continued unchallenged rule by the Kim dynasty, which it portrays as uniquely able to defend Korea,” according to the report.

Coming less than a month before President Donald Trumpis due to meet Kim on June 12 in Singapore, the 23-page unclassified report reflects the Pentagon’s most current public assessment of the major nuclear and non-nuclear threats posed by North Korea as well as the internal and regional political dynamics shaping the regime.The report covered a period ending in mid-December, ahead of a recent detente that led to plans for the Singapore summit.

 

 

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