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.
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…
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.