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North Korea ramps up the pressure on South Korea

Ahn Jong Sik, Deputy Head, SBS Political Department  |  2017-06-20 16:29
Following the inauguration of the Moon government, North Korea has announced its position on its relationship with the South for the first time through a statement from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF). The Committee is an organization responsible for North-South relations in North Korea, and a 'statement' is the highest level at which the agency communicates, suggesting that the move reflects the official position of North Korea on the Moon government.
 
CPRF pressures South Korea to choose between North Korea and the United States
 
In the CPRF statement, North Korea emphasized the unity of the Korean people, saying, "The South Korean government should make a decision whether to blindly follow the foreign forces through the US-South Korea alliance or to be autonomous and bond together with the Korean people," adding that, "if the Moon government is truly representative of the public sentiment expressed in the candlelight vigils, it must first abandon the old mistakes of making alliances with foreigners. It is intolerable that the Moon government alludes to an improvement in the relationship while simultaneously pursuing sanctions and pressure along with dialogue and outreach." This is a direct response to the stated strategy of the Moon government to flexibly resolve inter-Korean issues while continuing to support UNSC sanctions.
 
North Korea criticized the actions of the Moon government over the past month, noting, "President Moon has remarked and behaved inappropriately from the first day of his inauguration, seriously harming inter-Korean relations. He has been desperate to look good to the great powers, dispatching special envoys and conducting phone diplomacy. He is placing priority on meeting with the head of the White house, whose life is at stake, and emphasizing the strengthening of the US-South Korea alliance on a daily basis."
 
In addition, the statement claims that, "The North Korea policy of the Moon government appears different on the surface but is fundamentally the same as the confrontational policy pursued by past South Korean regimes. It is not our (North Korea's) intention to pretend that the policy has been changed by a mere exchange of some civic organizations, rather than solving the root cause of the problem," adding that, "South Korea is at an historic crossroad between making glorious history by holding hands with North Korea or following the same miserable steps of past regimes by giving in to foreign forces and hesitating to cooperate with the North."
 
Playing hard to get 
 
The statement released one month after Moon's inauguration suggests that North Korea will not cooperate with the Moon government's policy of 'small-scale exchanges in parallel to sanctions.' The regime appears intent on ramping up pressure on the new government to negotiate greater concessions rather than small-scale civic exchanges. As the Moon government has expressed its determination to improve North-South relations, the regime has calculated that playing hard to get will eventually cause the Moon government to yield.
 
On the one hand, North Korea seems to be following its typical strategy of trying to take the upper hand ahead of an inter-Korean summit, but on the other hand, it also appears to be trying to persuade the Moon government to improve inter-Korean relations while accepting its pursuit of nuclear weapons. But the fact that North Korea is forcing the Moon government to choose between North Korea and foreign forces (primarily the US) could be a sign that the regime has higher expectations for the Moon government relative to the previous Park government.
 
However, it is likely a miscalculation to believe that the South Korean government will accept the Norths nuclear and missile development, and campaign for a lifting of international sanctions on its behalf. The Kim Jong Un regime's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction are direct threats to the security of the Korean peninsula as well as the international community. 

*Views expressed in Guest Columns do not necessarily reflect those of Daily NK.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

 
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2017.08.04
Won Pyongyang Sinuiju Hyesan
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