Saturday, August 29, 2009

North Korean Thaw

First, the DPRK released the two US journalists it kidnapped and imprisoned for 141 days; then, a few days later, it released a Hyudai Asan employee it had held on charges of trying to convince a North Korean woman with whom he worked at the Gaeseong joint manufacturing complex to defect (after he signed a confession).

Last week, Pyongyang sent emissaries to Seoul on the occasion of the funeral of President Kim Dae Jung; it notified Seoul yesterday that it will release the eleven fishermen it has been holding for a month, since their boat "strayed into North Korean waters."

And now, Donga Ilbo announces Koreas to Hold Family Reunions Next Month:
South and North Korea agreed yesterday to hold reunions for families separated by the Korean War from Sept. 26 through Oct. 1, the first such agreement in nearly two years.
Chief delegates of the two sides signed the agreement after a second session of talks at the North’s scenic resort area of Mount Kumgang, where the reunions will take place.
A hundred South Koreans will meet long-lost kin in the North Sept. 26-28, while the same number of North Koreans will do the same for three days from Sept. 29. Both sides will exchange lists of people wishing to meet relatives before setting the final candidates Sept. 17.

Certainly welcome news, all of it. Anything to lower the temperature on the peninsula (or raise it, in the Cold War milieu) is a good thing.

The reasons: who knows? Coming right on the heels of a fair amount of aggressive posturing, and aggressive acts, for that matter, perhaps it's an attempt to defang the outcry for action against the North. It didn't prevent UAE from confiscating an arms shipment headed to iran two weeks ago. Nor did it stop Russia from deploying its advanced S-400 missile system along its border with the DPRK.

Perhaps it is an attempt to keep pundits on their toes, keep the world guessing about what is going on in this most secretive of nations. Dunno if it is related, but there is an interesting story at the Daily NK about the cessation of the propaganda in the North surrounding the rise of Kim Jung-il's third son, Kim Jong-un:
Kim Gil Myung (pseudonym), who trades between Dandong, China and Shinuiju, North Korea, met with a Daily NK reporter on the 20th. "The succession project (regarding Kim Jong Woon) has completely stopped,” he said, “Since the start of August, I have not heard any news about General Kim (Kim Jong Woon) during factory lectures. Officials have not provided a specific reason, simply saying that a decree has been issued from above." ...
The North Korean authorities previously went to great lengths to imply the might of Kim Jong Woon, even attributing the second nuclear test and attendant missile launches to him. "Channel 3," a cable broadcast inside North Korea, had also been concentrating on the song "Footsteps." But all such efforts apparently came to an abrupt halt in August.

1 comment:

The Sanity Inspector said...

Meh, the Norks are just on a charm offensive, to try and shake down the South and us for more handouts.