South Korean minister cautions over North Korea’s double strategy

Seoul, Jan 2: South Korea’s senior military officer Thursday cautioned about a possible good cop-bad cop strategy of North Korea, pointing towards the New Year’s address made by its top leader.

Seoul’s Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin said North Korea might conduct the carrot-and-stick strategy, which means Pyongyang could offer to hold dialogue with Seoul while having an axe to grind such as making provocations, Xinhua reported.

Kim made such remarks at a meeting with senior military officers earlier in the day, Kim Min-seok, spokesman of the South Korean defence ministry, said.

His comments came a day after North Korea’s top leader Kim Jong-un said in a televised New Year’s speech that Pyongyang would “create atmosphere to ameliorate the relations between the North and South Korea”.

Minister Kim said last month that Pyongyang would likely make provocations between late January and early March this year following the purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of Kim Jong-un.

The South Korean military chief said that competition may become excessive among the North Korean military officers as they might seek to show their royalty to Kim Jong-un following Jang’s execution.

“Given past cases, North Korea took a conciliatory stance when it had to overcome internal difficulties or improve internal situations. At that time, (North Korea) offered to hold a dialogue and inter-Korean talks happened,” Kim said.

The spokesman, however, noted that North Korea made provocations when its internal problems failed to be solved even after buying time during the inter-Korean dialogue, saying that it needed to wait and see whether North Korea would carry out such two-track strategy of dialogue and provocation.

Regarding the North Korean leader’s speech, Seoul’s Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said that little room was found to interpret Kim’s comments as an offer to hold any dialogue with South Korea.

Ryoo said the most outstanding feature of this year’s address can be viewed as Kim’s political rhetoric being not much strong, adding that Kim looked calm during his speech though what intention he had cannot be made sure.

Touching on Jang’s execution, Ryoo said potential instabilities were expected to last within North Korea from the objective perspective, but the minister noted that Pyongyang seemed to regain its stability at a fast pace after a sudden upheaval.

IANS