A step in the wrong directionNorth Korean Gen. Kim Su-gil, director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean People’s Army, visited Beijing late last week and held talks with his Chinese counterpart Miao Hua, director of the political affairs department of China’s Military Commission.
The two, who had accompanied their leaders Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping in their talks in Pyongyang on June 20, on Friday agreed to push their military ties “to a higher level.”
Although details of their “higher level” military ties have not been revealed, the cozying up is another means of Pyongyang rubbing salt in Seoul’s wounds facing a chilly and tense relationship with both its neighbors and global powers.
North Korea on Friday morning fired two short-range missiles — the eighth launch this year and sixth in just a month in a bout of missile launches deliberately placing South Korea in target range.
Friday’s launch is believed to be similar to the Army Tactical Missile System of the U.S. military, or tactical guided bombs, that can wipe out a space the size of four football fields. The projectiles were launched near Tonchon, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the South Korean border.
The North has been carrying out dangerous provocations right over our heads. It also upped its saber-rattling.
The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country, the North’s agency on inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement calling President Moon Jae-in “thick-headed” and lambasted on his Liberation Day address on the previous day. It turned to vulgar name-calling to raise questions over whether it had the minimum civility fit for a government.
North Korea may have been disappointed that Moon did not mention the resumption of inter-Korean ventures including the reopening of the Kaesong industrial park or a cease to the joint military drills with the United States during the Liberation Day speech.
But its harsh rhetoric and military provocations is weakening the rationale for the Moon administration to continue with its détente policy. The South Korean people are quickly losing patience with the Pyongyang regime.
It is clear why it is kowtowing to Beijing amid unrelenting international sanctions. North Korea must stop its missile and rhetorical provocations and return to a peaceful path. No matter what it tries, the only way to ease sanctions and rejoin the international community is through dialogue with Seoul and Washington.