North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has abandoned his country’s longstanding goal of reconciling with South Korea, opting instead to frame the bilateral relationship as a conflict between two independent states and designate South Korea as the North’s “principal enemy.” Three state organizations dedicated to unification will also shutter, while Pyongyang’s nine-storey ‘Arch of Reunification,’ was reportedly destroyed over the weekend.
Dr. Scott Harrison, APF Canada’s Senior Program Manager, Northeast Asia, told Asia Watch that it’s unclear what spurred the North’s change of tack, but it could be a response to South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s approach to North Korea, or a way of staying on Washington’s radar as the U.S. presidential election approaches. Harrison says North Korea’s ‘doubling down’ on military preparation as it’s likely still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity issues — and the symbolism of Kim’s daughter and sister being recently thrust into the spotlight — confirm change is afoot in the North.
Canadians take note
Peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and the North Pacific matters for Canada’s relations with South Korea and Japan, noted Harrison. A ‘hot’ confrontation would raise prices of consumer goods in Canada, and disrupt supply chains for cars, computers, phones, and more. Canada is also a longtime partner in Operation NEON, which supports the implementation of UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.