Tensions between the North and the South continue to escalate this week.
The situation has not improved much since North Korea demolished the inter-Korean liaison office located in the border city of Kaesong, NK. Tensions began to escalate weeks ago when Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, released a statement slamming South Korea for propaganda leaflets launched into the North from North Korean defector groups inside of South Korea. Her statement, released on 6-13-2020 reads as follows.
“It is better to take a series of retaliatory actions, instead of releasing this kind of statement, which those with bad ears my miscalculate as the ‘one for threatening’ or from which they can make any rubbishy comments on our intention as they please. I feel it is high time to surely break with the South Korean authorities. We will soon take a next action. By exercising my power authorized by the Supreme Leader, our Party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with the enemy to decisively carry out the net action. Before long, a tragic scene of the useless north-south joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen. If I drop a hint of our next plan the South Korean authorities are anxious about, the right to taking the next action against the enemy will be entrusted to the General Staff of our Army. Our Army, too, will determine something for cooling down our people’s resentment and surely carry out it, I believe. Rubbish must be thrown into the dust bin.”
Following the release of this statement from North Korea, folks immediately began to theorize what North Korea could do as a response. It seemed at the time that the most likely route North Korea would go down, would be to demolish the inter-Korean office in Kaesong, which ultimately, is what they did.
North Korea has also threatened and partially carried out a threat to abandon the 2018 inter-Korean summit agreements, which brought with it a huge change to the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The KPA (Korean People’s Army, North Korea) has been deployed to a few formerly empty guard posts in the DMZ, and the KPA has been spotted doing brush cleanup and maintaining roads along the DMZ. The guard posts were emptied as part of the agreements reached in the 2018 inter-Korean summit.
North Korea has also threatened to launch their own propaganda leaflets, with numbers going as high as 12,000,000. It remains to be seen though if the North will actually follow through on this threat. Supposedly, North Korea has already crafted these leaflets, effectively stating that they will release them. The South Korean military recently has said that they could potentially take military action depending on how the North launches these propaganda leaflets. One of the potential methods for launching the leaflets could be via drone, which is one of the methods that South Korea said they’d respond via military methods if carried out.
Just yesterday, North Korea deployed at least 20 propaganda loudspeakers along the DMZ, which is in violation of one of the agreements reached during the 2018 inter-Korean summit, which was to take down all propaganda loudspeakers, on both the North and South side of the DMZ. The 20 loudspeakers is just half of what North Korea has previously operated, which was around 40 loudspeakers. South Korea is also reviewing plans to potentially re-deploy their own propaganda loudspeakers as a response.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Army today has conducted an annual exercise in border city Paju-si. A move that will likely prompt a similar exercise from the North.
And finally, South Korean police and military are investigating claims that North Korean defector group Fighters For a Free North Korea (FFNK) have launched propaganda leaflets into North Korea. The groups Chief, Park Sang-hak, claims that the group used areas that were dark to avoid surveillance in Paju-si to conduct their launches overnight. Park also said that he selected a new group of people because the old group was under surveillance from the South, who has said they’re going to assist in putting a stop to the leaflet launches. Park said they sent anti-North Korea leaflets to the North between 11pm and midnight on Monday.
According to the group, the launches had around 500,000 leaflets carried by 20 large helium balloons. 500 pamphlets showing South Korea’s success story, 2,000 $1 bills and 1,000 SD cards. It is not known what is on the SD cards.
According to Chad O’Carroll (@chadocl on Twitter), the CEO of Korea Risk Group, the attempt to launch leaflet balloons into North Korea from the South went poorly. He states that some of the balloons successfully made it into North Korea, however, a majority of them blew back into South Korea. However, due to the media coverage, and the fact that Park Sung-hak’s group was able to at least launch balloons, we should expect escalation from North Korea.
Chad O’Carroll listed two possible retaliation methods the North could take in response to this latest batch of launches. He speculates that North Korea could shell the areas used by the North Korean defector groups to launch balloons and bottles, or they could target the defector-activists in South Korea.
So far, North Korea has followed through with at least two of their threats that they have dished out via state media. Which prompts the question, who is really in control in North Korea? Personally, I believe that Kim yo-jong has taken a huge role within North Korea’s government, and is able to carry out certain things that other people might not have been able to carry out.
It’s going to be a very interesting next couple of months considering all of the hot spots around the world, so make sure to stay tuned to my Twitter, YouTube, Twitch and Discord for continuous updates on everything going on throughout the world.