As linked to in one of the previous articles, South Korea has been insisting to re-unite war-torn families (이산가족). The north however, has said that it wouldn’t do it unless the South called off its annual combined military exercise. The South was not going to cancel. So then, President Park criticises their sincerity in clearing up the nuclear issue, and by extension somewhat criticizing the North’s rejection to hold the reunion. Some analysts have said that the North’s outlandish suggestion for the South to cancel the exercise, was just an excuse to make itself look good, describing their actions as a “peace offensive”. Well now, the North has conceded, called up the South and said, “Yeah, let’s do it!”
But two things to point out:
- Instead of meeting “just in time” for the Korean New Year as the South had intended, the North is saying, “Let’s meet after the New Year“. As Professor Yang, Moo-Jin had put it, because it’s more accessible for North Koreans in warmer weather, where public roads aren’t up to par with those in the South.
- The North knows the South won’t call off military exercises. That’s fine. The North will just intensify its Winter Training Cycle. No, not just intensify its hacking abilities… We’re talking about the real military… KJU went to inspect a military unit:
which was training their para-troopers to fly out from AN-2 Colts:
North Koreans really know how to play the game of diplomacy. Bravo!
YTN reports on the request to reunite war-torn families, and cautions that in the past, even when North Korea has made sweet offerings, it was usually quickly followed by violent actions, like the YonPyong Shellings in 2011:
I think if anything violent were to happen, it would largely depend on how the South will play its cards at this point.
UPDATE: January 30, 2014
The reunion may be put off, because of news that North Korea is preparing for another rocket launch:
If this, and the exercises really are an indication of war, what will that mean for the prices of the already skyrocketing choco-pies?
OK, admittedly, it won’t mean anything. So just enjoy the lunar new year! In fact, here’s a video explaining the similarities and differences in how the North and South celebrate the lunar new year:
COROLLARY: January 31, 2014
Mr. Scott Snyder’s article from the Council on Foreign Relations pretty much sums up the game both sides are playing very well:
South Korean president Park Geun-hye came to office last year pledging a policy of trustpolitik designed to promote inter-Korean reconciliation through principled engagement while holding North Korea to account. The Economist suggested the policy should be named “distrustpolitik,” asserting that “the south does not trust the north to keep its promises; the north does not trust the south to follow through on its admonitions.”
UPDATE: February 11, 2014
On February 10th, UN Ambassador 潘반基기文문(Ban, Ki-Moon) visited Sochi, to meet up with North Korea’s Head of the Supreme Peoples’ Assembly, 김영남(Kim, Yong-Nam) to discuss reuniting war-torn families:
NKNews has a chart plotting out the types of visits 金김正정恩은(Kim, Jong-Un) has made, and it’s mostly been visits to military sites. The following quote is on the mark when it comes to what the political game they are ultimately playing…
…The large number of military-related appearances – seven out of 11 had some military relevance – suggests that Pyongyang may be trying to back up its peaceful overtures to Seoul with a not-so-subtle reminder that it retains real military capability and could raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula if relations don’t improve – a “carrot and stick diplomacy” approach…
The two Koreas last agreed on a round of reunions in September. However, the North cancelled them only days ahead of time, blasting current South Korean President Park Geun-hye for declaring their resumption a product of Seoul’s hard-line approach toward the North.