Just when everything seemed to be going so well… North Korean leaders cancelled peace talks with the South this week, citing concerns about ongoing military exercises between South Korean and U.S. air forces. Kim Jong-un’s regime believes the drills demonstrate bad faith, indicating a long-term plan to infiltrate and invade North Korea once the administration lets down its guard.
• So far, North Korea has only cancelled peace talks with South Korea, and not the USA. Leaders have expressed a desire to continue working with the United States, including pressing forward with the US-NK summit scheduled for next week.
• That said, all is not well with US-NK relations, either. North Korea threatened to cancel talks with the United States, including the summit with Trump, if military drills do not cease immediately.
• Prominent North Korean newspapers are calling SK and American military exercises a “provocative military racket.” State-run outlets, including the Korean Central News Agency, were the first to warn of impending trouble.
• North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kim Kye Gwan, clarified the cancellation in a statement to the media. He targets Trump as the driving force behind the decision. “If [the Trump administration] only pushes us into a corner and forces us to give up our nuclear weapons unilaterally, then we will no longer take interest in such a talk and would have to reconsider,” he said.
• Kye Gwan’s version is confusing; it directly contradicts other information currently being circulated by NK’s media outlets. Instead of focusing on military drills, it focuses on US demands for denuclearization.
• Seoul and SK government officials called the withdrawal “regrettable” and re-invited NK back to the table. One official stated that the South “is urging North Korea to come to the talks soon for the sake of peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.”
• It’s too early to determine exactly what might happen in the coming days, but there’s a significant chance this is just more posturing by North Korean leaders. If so, Jong-un will eventually make it back into talks, hopefully giving Trump a chance to be a leader and show them the way to prosperity.