North Korea ushered in the new decade without Kim Jong-un's much anticipated New Year's address.
It did, however, unveil the outcome of a rare four-day meeting of its ruling Workers' Party which gave clues to the 'new path' North Korea has been mentioning in recent weeks.
The 'new path', as many had predicted, signaled a u-turn to Pyeongyang's nuclear and long-range missile tests but the regime left the door open for dialogue with the U.S.
Today we go in-depth on North Korea's possible motives and the prospects of regional affairs surrounding the Korean Peninsula for this year with Dr. Woo Jung-yeop, of the Sejong Institute.
1. N. Korea ushered in the new year without Kim Jong-un's address. for the first time since Kim rose to power in 2013. Why do you think that is, when the North Korea-U.S. nuclear impasse is continuing?
2. Kim Jong-un, through the WP central committee meeting said that he is no longer constrained by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons and long-range missiles as U.S. is sticking to its hard-line stance on the North. Does this mean North Korea would end the moratorium on nuclear and missile tests?
3. While warning of a 'shocking action', North Korea also announced the world will witness its 'new strategic weapon'. In your perspective, what kind of a weapon will be unveiled and when?
4. North Korea hinted that its level of nuclear deterrence will depend on the U.S. stance tossing the ball over to Washington's court. And interestingly enough, there were no criticism aimed at U.S. President Trump. How do you see this?
5. Trump, following North Korea's major announcement, told reporters that Kim Jong-un is a "man of his word" and that they maintain a good relationship. How do you interpret this and how do you see the possibility of Pyeongyang and Washington resuming dialogue?
6. The North Korea issue is just one of U.S. President Trump's major headaches amid an upcoming senate impeachment trial and the situations in the Middle East. How would Trump's series of conundrums affect future Pyeongyang-Washington negotiations?
7. President Moon Jae-in, delivering his New Year's address, reiterated that will for dialogue still exists between North Korea and the U.S. What role is further needed from South Korea to mediate stalled Pyeongyang-Washington talks?
8. There was no mention of inter-Korean relations during the Workers' Party plenary session. as opposed to Kim Jong-un's previous New Year's addresses. The prospects for inter-Korean relations this year?
9. South Korea's defense ministry, following North Korea's announcement on the key political gathering, has once again confirmed that the scale of South Korea-U.S. joint military drills have been adjusted to support denuclearization talks. What would be a prudent strategy for South Korea to adoptnow that North Korea's 'new path' has been unveiled?