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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

In a significant shift in North Korea’s foreign policy, leader Kim Jong Un declared that the aspiration for unification with South Korea is no longer viable.

During a speech at the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s legislative body, Kim asserted the need to amend the constitution, designating South Korea as the “principal enemy.” State media KCNA reported that three organizations dedicated to reunification efforts would be disbanded.

This unprecedented departure from the pursuit of unification marks a notable change in direction for North-South relations, as Kim emphasized the importance of reflecting in the constitution the potential scenarios of “occupying,” “recapturing,” and “incorporating” the South in case of a conflict on the Korean peninsula. Kim, who took leadership in 2011, asserted a “new stand” on north-south relations, expressing a readiness for conflict while expressing a reluctance towards war.

The announcement follows months of deteriorating relations, including the suspension of a five-year military deal in November, which heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol responded, vowing to retaliate “multiple times stronger” to any provocation from the North.

Dr John Nilsson-Wright, from Cambridge University’s Centre for Geopolitics, described Kim’s remarks as “unprecedented,” linking them to a perceived loss of face stemming from the 2019 summit with then-US President Donald Trump.

As relations soured, the North engaged in provocative actions, suspending military agreements, launching missiles, and conducting live-fire exercises near South Korean territory.

Experts, including former State Department official Robert Carlin, highlighted the escalating danger, suggesting that Kim may have strategically decided to go to war, urging a serious consideration of the risk of escalation.

Against this backdrop, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui is in Russia, expected to meet President Vladimir Putin, further complicating the geopolitical landscape as both nations have recently strengthened ties while being isolated by Western powers. The situation remains fluid, with international observers closely monitoring developments on the Korean Peninsula.

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