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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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North Korea befriends Seoul fearing pre-emptive U.S. strike

Establish close ties with its long-time rival and neighbor South Korea

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WASHINGTON, U.S. - Experts believe that North Korea is suddenly anxious about a pre-emptive U.S. strike, and hence is opening up diplomatic channels, to establish close ties with its long-time rival and neighbor South Korea.

Days after the United States denied having a "bloody nose" strategy for North Korea, now experts believe Kim Jong Un is reaching out to South Korea because he’s scared Trump will strike.

Quoting one of the highest-ever ranked defectors from North Korea, reports noted this week that Kim Jong Un is now engaging in diplomacy with South Korea because he fears a U.S. military strike on North Korea.

Ri Jong Ho who worked for three decades in the North Korean office responsible for raising funds for Kim said at a Wilson Center forum in Washington, “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.”

Ho noted that not only are President Donald Trump’s threats of military action having an effect on North Korea, the U.S.’s diplomatic efforts to lock Pyongyang out of international trade have also started to bite.

He was quoted as saying, “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.”

Ho defected in 2014 and likely doesn’t know the current thinking in Pyongyang, but may have knowledge of the economic situation before the sanctions. 

His statements come immediately after a handful of moves from the Trump administration that appeared to signal that they were on the verge of striking North Korea.

Further, his statements also conjured up one of the U.S.’s worst fears in North Korea by suggesting that Kim Jong Un did not legitimately want to pursue peace with South Korea, instead that he wanted to use the ruse of diplomacy to buy time while he advances his nuclear program.

The defector said, “Depending on the circumstances, North Korea could hold South Koreans hostage and continue its threatening provocations.”

Similarly, U.S. Navy Adm. Harry Harris, who recently assumed command of the U.S. military’s Pacific and Asian theater of operation, PACOM said in a testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, Kim is “after reunification under a single communist system, so he is after what his grandfather failed to do and his father failed to do.”

If North Korea indeed is fearful of a strike, it would provide evidence that a U.S.-led sanctions campaign has begun to work against the Kim regime, and North Korea could be hurting economically. 

According to some insiders within Trump’s inner circle seem, the President is considering responding to future North Korean provocations with force.

However, senators of both parties and a Trump administration official said earlier this week that the U.S. does not want to strike the North's nuclear program in a way that avoids an all-out war.

A senior White House official told lawmakers earlier this week that no such approach has been adopted.

 

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