We start a discussion on issue making headlines.
In recent weeks, North Korea has issued some strong rhetoric against South Korea and the United States, condemning their joint military drills, threatening to scrap its pact with Seoul on easing military tensions, and we just heard a few hours ago orders to cut off all lines of communication between the two Koreas.
The North's recent antics and acerbic words are causing many to wonder if the regime is trying to pick a fight, and just what's been going on since Kim Jong-un showed up on state media after twenty days of disappearance.
Joining our discussion today Dr. Mark P. Barry, Associate Editor of the International Journal on World Peace, who has been following North Korea issues for three decades, and Kim Jeong-min, a correspondent for NK News based in Seoul.
Jeongmin: We heard a few hours ago that Kim Yo-jong who's assumed to be second-in-command in the regime after her brother Kim Jong-un gave orders to close all hotlines between the two Koreas. What do you think is going on?
Dr. Barry: Does North Korea's recent antics and constant stream of rhetoric indicate it's building up to further provocations?
Jeongmin: Kim Yo-jong verbally attacked South Korea for allowing defectors to disperse anti-North Korea leaflets across the border, after which South Korea took action to clampdown on such activities. What does this tell us about her position in the regime is she solidifying her status as the regime's number two?
Dr. Barry: North Korea also criticized the United States last week, taking China's side in the ongoing dispute between the G2 powers. Do you see any underlying intentions there? How do you think the North will use the U.S.-China conflict to its advantage?
Jeongmin: Kim Jong-un presided over a Politburo meeting last weekend. What was the focus of this meeting and what stood out to you?
Dr. Barry: The North's state media report on the Politburo meeting focused mostly on domestic issues. Do you think there's a reason they focused on internal issues and why avoid the topic of inter-Korean relations?
To both: It's always hard to read into what's going on inside the regime with the limited information we have. Compared to its strong rhetoric in recent weeks, there's been relative inaction compared to its past provocations. Is the North biding its time for something big, or is it buying time due to internal problems?
Dr. Barry: There's been some criticism that Seoul is giving into the North's demands. What do you think is the right approach, and how do you see U.S.-North Korea relations faring throughout this year?
We're going to have to wrap up the discussion here but it's been great to hear your insights. Dr. Mark P. Barry, Associate Editor of the International Journal on World Peace and Kim Jeong-min, a correspondent for NK News based in Seoul. Thank you for joining us.