North Korea blows up inter-Korean liaison office building. The Trump Bromance is over

North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the heavily armed border with South Korea, which may be more for domestic consumption, but also signifies the impotence of US-DPRK diplomacy. Easier to develop disinformation blaming South Korea and the US than the PRC. Trump’s incompetence continues as in the aggregate, any diplomacy with the DPRK seemed only a means to distract US domestic opinion.

The Liaison Office functioned as a communication channel between the North and South, as the two countries do not share diplomatic relations. The office, located in North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Region, served as a de facto embassy.

The basis for the Office was detailed in the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, signed by North Korean leader Kim Jung-um and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The Office hosted meetings between the two countries, which focused on areas in which the two countries could cooperate towards shared goals.

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Kim Jung-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong foreshadowed the building’s demolition, saying that “before long, a tragic scene of the useless North-South joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen.” nationalinterest.org/…

One of the noteworthy results of the meeting office was a meeting between North Korean Vice-Minister of Physical Culture and Sports Won Kil U and South Korean Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Roh Tae-kang. The meeting resulted in a bid to host the 2032 Olympic games in both North and South Korea, with a unified Korean team to participate in the 2020 Olympics. South Korea reportedly spent over $8.6 million to refurbish the office facility.

Both North and South Korean officials worked in the building…

nationalinterest.org/…

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Background map from @AFP on the inter-Korean liaison office. #NorthKorea demolished the building as tensions rise over defectors in the South sending propaganda leaflets into the North

Behind the scenes: Experts generally view this as a play for leverage from Kim Jong-un’s regime, which has expressed fury over America's unwillingness to loosen sanctions and is believed to be facing a severe economic downturn amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • North Korea has also expressed outrage over propaganda leaflets sent across the border from the South.
  • Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un, has been taking a central role in the rhetorical offensive from Pyongyang.

What to watch: Nuclear talks are likely to remain on ice this year, with an election approaching in the U.S.

  • The Kim regime’s goals include weakening the U.S.-South Korea alliance and reminding Washington “that North Korea is still a force to be reckoned with,” said Glyn Davies, who served as a special representative for North Korea during the Obama administration, in a recent International Crisis Group webinar.
  • U.S. intelligence says North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear program since President Trump’s two summits with Kim, which did not yield a deal on denuclearization.

www.axios.com/…

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