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Experts mixed on North Korean leader's messages in congress
  来源:苹果蓝号检测  更新时间:2024-05-30 10:46:20
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in this <strong></strong>photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, Wednesday. / Yonhap
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, Wednesday. / Yonhap

By Kang Seung-woo

With North Korea's much-heralded party congress set to take place early next month, Pyongyang watchers showed mixed opinions on what messages North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will deliver during the political event, Wednesday.

Some expect Kim will release a message to the incoming Joe Biden administration to exert influence on the new U.S. government's policymaking on his country, while others predict that the reclusive country, plagued by COVID-19, may extend a conciliatory gesture to South Korea to help break through its current challenges.

The North's Korean Central News Agency announced earlier in the day that Kim presided over a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party and decided to hold a party congress in early January, but the state media did not elaborate on a specific date.

The eighth party congress, the first since May 2016, comes at a critical time for the country as it is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and typhoon and flood damage as well as international sanctions. Also, it will be held in the same month as the U.S. leadership change on Jan. 20.

"Given that both the party congress and the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) are scheduled to be convened in January, North Korea seems to beat the United States to the punch," said Park Won-gon, a professor of international politics at Handong Global University.

Many consider it unusual to hold those events in January, raising speculation that the timing may have to do with Biden's inauguration. The SPA usually meets once a year in April, serving as a platform to unveil key policy changes or messages.

"By preemptively sending a message to the U.S., the North would seek to grab the initiative in their stalled denuclearization negotiations and reflect its interest in the Biden administration's review of policy toward his country rather than waiting to see the U.S.' future policy and taking action," Park said.

"Unless things go its way, the North may mount some pressure, relying on military provocations."

According to Park, the North is expected to remain ambiguous on the South strategically.

"Although the South is useful, there is no reason to improve inter-Korean ties right away. So the North Korean version of strategic ambiguity would continue," he said.

However, Cho Han-beom, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said the North Korean leader may offer an extraordinary olive branch to Seoul in a bid to overcome its economic crisis.

"Being placed in a current difficult situation, improved inter-Korean relations can help ease its troubles," Cho said.

Cho said Kim's wish for the South's speedy recovery from the coronavirus pandemic during the 75th anniversary of the party's founding anniversary in October also backs up his prediction.

"As it cannot repeatedly urge its people to endure hardship, a conciliatory gesture could be made during the congress," he said.

As for Kim's message to the next U.S. administration, the North may send a message as well, but one neither provocative nor conciliatory, Cho noted.



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