A crocodile’s tearsNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a rare “emotional speech” on Saturday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party. He even used honorifics to his people 10 times while expressing “sorry” and “thank you” in the address. Kim also expressed his hopes to see the day when South and North Koreans “shake hands” after overcoming the coronavirus. Kim went so far as to tone down his military message to the rest of the world by mentioning his country’s “nuclear deterrence” — instead of the usual “nuclear power.”
The Blue House showed a positive reaction to Kim’s address. In an emergency National Security Council meeting held shortly after the event in Pyongyang, it noted Kim’s hopes to see the day when South and North Koreans shake hands. The live broadcasting of the entire event by YTN and Yonhap News TV, both cable news channels, despite controversy, reflects the government’s expectations for inter-Korean cooperation.
But Kim suddenly turned euphoric upon looking at the super-sized intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the military parade. Military experts think that the ICBMs — each tipped with two-to-three warheads and carried by a massive 22-wheeled vehicle — are capable of striking the U.S. mainland. The parade epitomizes the North’s dual strategy of making peace gestures on one hand and showing off its nuclear capability on the other.
The military parade proved that nothing has changed in North Korea. Kim disclosed his intention to solidify internal unity through the show of force to trigger schisms in the South Korea-U.S. alliance while sending a reconciliatory message particularly after its tragic killing of a South Korean fisheries official in the Yellow Sea. President Moon Jae-in has been advocating Kim’s willingness to denuclearize, but the parade has made it clear that North Korea has been accelerating its nuclear and missile programs.
The Moon administration should read the real intention of the Kim regime rather than being swayed by his tears. If Moon pushes a declaration to end the Korean War after accepting Kim’s expression of “regrets twice,” it would only make South Korea prey to Kim’s peace offensive. Moon must hold North Korea accountable for the death of our citizen and urge Pyongyang to stop boasting its nuclear capability.
In Kim’s speech, we can affirm the effectiveness of international sanctions on North Korea. Kim’s tearful “sorry” addressed to his people represents tough times for the economy. The best policy for the Moon administration is to convince Kim of the pressing need to denuclearize while maintaining sanctions.