See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

North Korea beefs up self-defense capabilities in military reorganization

The North have been making many changes ahead of talks.

Written by

Updated: December 23, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over a meeting of the top military decision-making body to accelerate the development of self-defense capabilities ahead of key events that will decide its national strategy, its state media reported Sunday.

Discussions on ways to bolster its military capabilities through organizational restructuring and personnel reshuffle were highlighted during the third expanded meeting of the seventh central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party. Details on what measures were discussed were not disclosed.

“At the meeting, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un gave an analysis and briefing on the complicated internal and external situation and said that the meeting would decide on important organizational and political measures and military steps to bolster the overall armed forces,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

“It decided on important military issues and measures for organizing or expanding and reorganizing new units in conformity with the party’s military and strategic intention, changing the affiliation of some units and their deployment,” the report said.

North Korea appears to view military-related activities this year as yielding fruitful results and carried out restructuring of personnel and organizations in accordance with the results, such as newly developed short-range ballistic missiles, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Dongguk University.

The country has test-fired a series of short-range projectiles since May. It also recently conducted two tests at its west coast satellite launch site, better known as the Dongchang-ri site, raising speculation that it is preparing to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Compared to last year’s military meeting, the number of Cabinet members and party officials who took part in the event has decreased, indicating that military officers have expanded their presence through the reshuffle, according to Cheong Seoung-chang, vice president of Research Planning at the Sejong Institute.

“This difference shows that they had an important discussion on North Korea’s advancement of nuclear and missile capabilities,” he said.

With only 10 days remaining for the year to end, North Korea’s denuclearization is at a critical juncture as its nuclear talks with the US have not made any progress despite a year-end deadline set by the North’s leader Kim. He has warned of finding a “new way” if the US does not make acceptable concessions.

Its new way is expected to be clarified in the 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party, a key meeting to decide core policies, which the regime had earlier said would convene later this month. The official announcement is expected to be made in Kim’s New Year’s address issued on Jan. 1.

Experts here expect Pyongyang to abandon nuclear diplomacy with Washington and pursue its economic development while seeking support from Russia and China.

“Although North Korea has not mentioned it directly, the content of the meeting indicates that its effort for denuclearization will be weakened,” Koh said.

In April 2018, Kim announced a new strategic line that focuses on economic and scientific development during a major speech at a plenum meeting of the Workers’ Party. He declared the successful completion of the “Byungjin Line,” unveiled in 2013, that stated that the North would develop its economy and nuclear arsenal simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the US has urged North Korea to stop provocations and return to the negotiating table following a series of weapons tests.

On Sunday, leaders of the US and Japan agreed to work together on North Korea’s issues. “President (Donald) Trump and Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe agreed to continue close communication and coordination, particularly in light of recent threatening statement issues by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said, referring to the official name of North Korea.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy

10 dead in Delhi in violent protests against controversial citizenship law, in the midst of Trump’s visit

Witnesses said Delhi police, who were outnumbered, did little to stop the violence, mostly standing by while groups pelted each other with stones, and vandalised vehicles and property. At least 10 people, including a cop, have been killed in India’s capital city Delhi since Monday (Feb 24), in a worrying outbreak of communal violence between those protesting a controversial citizenship law and groups who oppose them. The violence, marked by arson and stone pelting, continued on Tuesday less than 20km from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump were holding talks. Even journalists reporting on the spot were attacked and forced to delete pictures and footage. More than 100 people have been injured, accordin

By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Analysis, Diplomacy

Malaysia political turmoil: Search for new government continues as King meets 132 MPs in second day of interviews

The unprecedented move for the King to interview MPs individually instead of meeting party leaders appears to be in line with Dr Mahathir’s plan to form a grand coalition across the political spectrum. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong continues the search for Malaysia’s new government on Wednesday (Feb 26) by interviewing 132 MPs to see whether they back interim premier Mahathir Mohamad to continue leading the country. This will complete interviews of all 222 parliamentarians after those from the opposition were asked on Tuesday who they wanted as prime minister, or if they preferred a snap election. Those heading to the palace on Wednesday are from the now collapsed Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. The Straits Times understands that those still in

By The Straits Times
February 26, 2020

Analysis, Diplomacy

Mahathir made caretaker PM after Malaysia’s King accepts his resignation

After his resignation, the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition saw the departure of dozens of lawmakers that left it short of a majority in Parliament. Just hours after submitting his resignation to Malaysia’s King on Monday (Feb 24), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was made caretaker Prime Minister. The King accepted Tun Dr Mahathir’s resignation, but appointed him interim Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Zuki Ali said in a statement. Dr Mahathir will continue to run the country’s administration until a new prime minister and Cabinet are appointed, he added. All ministerial appointments were also cancelled with effect from Monday as a result of the prime minister’s resignation, the chief secretary said in a separate state

By The Straits Times
February 25, 2020

Analysis, Diplomacy

Vietnamese advised to avoid travel to coronavirus-hit areas in South Korea, flights not banned yet

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea has recommended Vietnamese citizens to avoid travel to areas affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and places vulnerable to the disease. The warning was made given the complex development of the COVID-19 in the RoK. Vietnamese citizens were also advised to keep a close watch and follow instructions of local agencies to prevent the illness. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Vietnamese Embassy in the RoK to work with local agencies to learn more about the situation, keep in touch with Vietnamese citizens in the country, establish a hotline and be ready to take protection measures when necessary. According to the embassy, as o

By Viet Nam News
February 24, 2020

Analysis, Diplomacy

Singdollar declines to near 3-year low on coronavirus fears

 Fall comes amid Asia-wide forex sell-off after South Korea infection spike, two deaths in Japan. The Singapore dollar fell along with most Asian currencies on concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The local currency fell to its lowest level against the United States dollar since May 2017 at one point yesterday, before recouping some of the losses. It slid about 1 per cent to as low as S$1.4083 to the greenback, before paring losses to trade 0.3 per cent lower. South Korea’s won sank more than 1 per cent to 1,201.95 to the dollar. The baht, the most sensitive in Asia to tourism, dropped 0.7 per cent to 31.406 to the dollar. The sell-off in the region’s foreign exchange (FX) markets followed a spike in confirmed infections in South

By The Straits Times
February 21, 2020

Analysis, Diplomacy

China revokes press cards of 3 WSJ journalists in Beijing

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, the press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday. The press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “The Chinese people do not welcome media that use racially discriminatory languages and maliciously slander and attack China,” Geng told an online press briefing Wednesday. On Feb 3, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” by Professor Walter Russell Mead of the Bard College, which smeared the efforts of the Chinese government and p

By China Daily
February 20, 2020