- Many are suspicious of North Korea’s Olympic overtures, arguing that Kim Jong Un is motivated by something more than a friendly desire to engage South Korea
- A former high-ranking North Korean official says Pyongyang is engaging Seoul because Kim fears a preventative strike by the U.S. on his country
- The defector argues that North Korea also aims to “create a hole” in the intense pressure campaign against it
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s friendly Olympic overtures appear to be linked to the young despot’s fear of a preemptive strike on his country, a ranking defector argued Wednesday.
Pyongyang is, according to a North Korean defector who previously served the Kim regime, eagerly engaging Seoul to prevent Washington from pursuing a military solution, such as the rumored “bloody nose” strategy. “Kim Jong Un is afraid that the U.S. will launch a preventative strike, and he is trying to buy time to complete his nuclear and missile programs,” Ri Jong Ho, a former financial official who left North Korea four years ago to escape Kim’s reign of terror, suggested at a talk in Washington, according to Yonhap News Agency.
“Kim Jong-un is struggling under the strongest-yet sanctions and military and diplomatic pressure, so he is trying to improve the situation by putting on a false front,” Ri, who worked as an Office 39 official securing funds for the regime, introduced. He argued that Kim is desperately trying to “create a hole” in the maximum pressure campaign.
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Ri said last year that North Korea would not last a year under the tough sanctions the international community has imposed on the regime for testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
There are different views of Kim Jong Un’s strategic intentions, but a prominent perspective is that North Korea is building weapons of mass destruction to keep the U.S. at arms length and isolate South Korea to eventually pursue some form of reunification with a nuclear North Korea dictating the terms to a non-nuclear South Korea.
North Korea’s diplomatic engagement with South Korea, as Ri suggested, could give Kim time to bolster his arsenal to advance this goal. Despite North Korea’s interactions with the South, it remains committed to strengthening its state nuclear force.
“I think that he is after reunification under a single communist system,” Admiral Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, explained to the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.
“He is after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do,” Harris added, according to the Washington Examiner. “He’s on a path to achieve what he feels is his natural place.
The admiral suggested that North Korea may use its arsenal of nuclear weapons to “blackmail” the South, a point made by Ri as well. “North Korea could hold South Koreans hostage and continue its threatening provocations.”
Since bilateral talks between North and South Korea restarted last month, the North has repeatedly emphasized the importance of unification while criticizing the U.S.-South Korean alliance.
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