|"The Current Kim-in-Charge"/photo from Kyodo News/AP|
For some observers, one of the "this is really serious" trip wires on the Korean peninsula has been the industrial park jointly operated by the North and South Koreans at Kaesong. So long as it is kept operating, the argument goes, things are "not yet really serious."
As noted in the Korean The Chosun Ilbo, now Pyongyang Threatens to Shut Joint-Korean Industrial Park
North Korea on Saturday threatened to shut down an industrial park that is the last remaining showcase of inter-Korean cooperation.Also reported in the LA Times:
The Kaesong Industrial Complex "will be mercilessly shut down" unless South Korea stops "damaging our dignity," the North Korean agency in charge warned according to the official KCNA news agency.
The threat came just a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed an order putting missile units on standby to attack U.S. military bases in South Korea and the Pacific.
An unnamed North Korean spokesman for the industrial complex accused South Korean media of "seriously insulting" the North with reports saying that Pyongyang will not shut down the complex since it needs the money and that it employs a two-faced strategy over Kaesong. He urged South Korean companies in the complex to protest against the "groundless" reports.
South Korea stands to lose money if the industrial park is closed, but the losses would be restricted to the companies operating there, whereas the North Korean regime would take a much bigger hit.
The regime would have to relinquish some $87 million a year it makes from the wages of 54,000 North Korean workers there. A worker makes an average of $134 a month, but most of it goes straight into the regime's coffers.
And the families of North Korean workers as well as some 250,000-300,000 residents in Kaesong and surrounding areas would be heavily affected. "If the water that is pumped into the city via the industrial complex is shut off, the locals will have to start digging wells," said a government official here.
"We've seen reports of a new and unconstructive statement from North Korea," said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden in a statement. "We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies. But we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats and today's announcement follows that familiar pattern.
"As [Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel said on Thursday, we remain fully prepared and capable of defending and protecting the United States and our allies," she added. "We continue to take additional measures against the North Korean threat, including our plan to increase the U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar, and the signing of the ROK-U.S. counter-provocation plan." ROK refers to formal name for South Korea.
Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North's continued threats toward Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.
|DPRK propaganda photo|
Of course, waiting for the NORKs to close the facility as a war warning indicator may be waiting too long.
|DPRK propaganda photo|
I think Mr. Deng has a clear view of the world view of the DPRK - once they are a "nuclear power" the whole neighborhood they live in will be under the cloud of nuclear blackmail from the failing state.
China backed a new round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations in the wake of the third nuclear test. But as is often the case with sanctions, the question became how seriously China would enforce them.
DPRK propaganda photo
DPRK propaganda photo
Official Chinese statements routinely say that sanctions are not the solution to the North Korean problem.
“It is entirely possible that a nuclear-armed North Korea could try to twist China’s arm if Beijing were to fail to meet its demand or if the U.S. were to signal good will towards it,” Mr. Deng wrote.
North Korea, he argued, did not view its relationship with China through the same lens of “friendship sealed in blood” that came from Chinese soldiers’ fighting and dying in the Korean War against the United States. “North Korea does not feel like this at all towards its neighbor,” he wrote.
Interestingly, the photo links from the "Official" News Agency have gone to pictures of some war games - and removed those of the Current Kim-in-Charge which were there last week. I have placed four of these recent pictures above.