Photo: Andrew Lombardi
Just weeks after launching a long-distance missile that surprised the world, North Korea now wants to make amends with the South.The launch came after the U.S. delivered advanced weapons to the South, and increased its allowable missile range deep into the North. Today’s announcement, made in a rare New Year’s speech by President Kim Jong-Un, comes as the U.S. debates also selling advanced drones to its longtime Southern ally.
The Telegraph reports the president’s speech is a first by Northern leaders in 19 years.
From The Telegraph:
The 29-year-old made his address standing at a huge wooden lectern … “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space,” he said.
He also held out an olive branch to South Korea, whose new president, Park Geun-hye has promised new efforts to engage North Korea and an increase in aid. “An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south,” Mr Kim said.
“The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war.”
The last war ended in 1953 without ever achieving an official declaration of peace. After three years of fighting and more than 1 million deaths, including 36,516 Americans, a ceasefire drew the countries together for a meeting.
That Armistice Meeting broke without a formal agreement ever being reached and North Korea has claimed it won the war ever since.
Military tension and aggression remained part of the North/South relationship, but the North is struggling under sanctions with an ailing economy and that is likely what it’s looking to remedy with this gesture.
Sangwon Yoon from Bloomberg reports:
“Kim’s speech mentioned the importance of the economy at far greater frequency than the military,” said Cheong Seong Chang, senior research fellow at the Seoul-based Sejong Institute, in an e-mail. “The success of the Dec. 12 missile launch has given Kim enough confidence to not have to rely on his father’s military-first policy to garner support.
”The urgency of economic issues also compounds to the North’s need to better ties with South Korea, which makes it likely that Pyongyang will aggressively engage in efforts to resume dialogue,” Cheong said.
While ambitious, the South will likely not go along with any changes until the North dismantles its nuclear program and that’s something it isn’t likely to do.
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