President Trump has recently been quoted as highlighting the difficulty of securing the summit with North Korea, which has been provisionally scheduled for 12th June, and that it could possibly be delayed.
The White House has been quick to stress that this does not mean the summit has been cancelled, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressing that work towards the summit is still ‘moving along’.
Even with this, however, Pompeo refuses to gauge the likelihood of the meeting taking place publicly, and President Trump himself has said he doesn’t like the change in attitude that has recently come from the regime. By all accounts, the more detente-looking mindset the regime seemed to be taking recently, agreeing to meet both the US and South Korea, seems to be fading.
Can anyone truly say that they are surprised?
We always knew that securing any kind of discussion with North Korea, the kind that an official summit could provide, would be a difficult ordeal. The North Korean regime runs a tight ship, and is maintains massive control over its nation primarily through its ability to oppress – something we have all seen – and through broadcasting its ideology.
When that ideology is one that is heavily hostile towards the west, recalling the UN-intervention in the Korean War on the side of the South well, and focuses on the US, can the difficulties being currently presented really be seen as surprising?
To look at the situation from a North Korean perspective, they are actively considering sitting down and talking to their sworn enemy, the nation that their own propaganda has turned into being synonymous with evil.
While the general populace is likely barely aware of the situation beyond what the Regime’s propaganda mouthpiece KNCA news agency deals out, the regime itself is likely fractured heavily over the future.
The fact that such détente measures were being taken in the first place seems to suggest that there are two factions that are growing in the North Korean government, one that wants to try and secure better stability and possibly prosperity by reaching out to the wider world again, and ending the total isolationism that has been imposed on it.
The other is likely made up of hard-liners and traditionalists who want to continue North Korea’s isolation and rely on its ties to China, as had been its strategy before, and continue to use its militancy to bargain with the West, if it can.
The ‘détente’ group has likely been using China’s increasing capitalism – it resembling more of an Authoritarian Capitalist society than a Communist one – as well as its unwillingness to publicly back North Korea’s hostile movements as justification for a more peaceful outlook.
The traditional strategy seemed to be reliant of China’s backup, North Korean policy makers cannot help but be aware that their own military and nuclear capability is far more powerful in a rhetoric sense than a practical sense. Therefore, having the implicit support of the Chinese military was important to maintaining their threat – and therefore their security in the mini Cold War being played out of the Korean Peninsula.
China’s increasing distance from North Korea is now something that cannot be denied, since the very fact that the faction calling for reform was able to influence the regime’s decisions at all speaks volumes of North Korea’s internal situation.
For a time, the North Korean regime was clearly desperate. Recognising that China could no longer be seen as reliable as it once was, and its own economy being in a near constant poor condition, its increased militancy was clearly an attempt to move towards a more Korean centred defence policy.
It can be no mistake that Korea’s attempts to present itself as a nuclear power have tripled recently.
When that strategy brought little benefits, ironically due to lack of Chinese backing, the thing the strategy had initially attempted to be independent of, it seems they chose to pursue detente, despite its internal ideological ramifications.
Now, the increased hostility from North Korea regarding the summit seems to have been bought about after a meeting between Kim Jong-Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping in China, so it is possible that China is recognising that losing North Korea to a détente outlook would remove a thorn in the US’s side – something it has no intention of removing.
Alternatively this may be mere smoke and mirrors, with the resistance simply being put on in an attempt for the Regime to claim far more control over the situation than they really do.
Either way, the next few weeks will be intriguing to watch.