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N. Korean Leader Calls to Prepare for Both Dialogue, Confrontation

Hot Issues of the Week2021-06-20


North Korean leader Kim Jong-un highlighted the need to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation in his first message towards the U.S. and South Korea, since the inauguration of President Joe Biden in January. This comes as Washington's point man on the North, Sung Kim, is due to visit Seoul later this week to discuss the stalled denuclearization talks.

On the third day of a plenary session of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee on Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un emphasized the need to prepare for both dialogue and confrontation with the U.S.

According to North Korean media outlets on Friday, Kim said such preparations would be necessary for national safety.

[Korean Central Television (June 18/Korean-English translation)]

"The General Secretary stressed the need to get prepared for both dialogue and

confrontation, especially to get fully prepared for confrontation in order to protect the dignity of our state and its interests for independent development and to reliably guarantee the peaceful environment and the security of our state."

Clarifying the North's foreign policy direction to enhance its strategic status and proactive role, and to lead efforts to create a diplomatic environment in its favor, Kim stressed the need to manage the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a stable manner.

[Korean Central Television (June 18/Korean-English translation)]

"Especially he made detailed analysis of the policy tendency of the newly emerged U.S. administration toward our Republic and clarified appropriate strategic and tactical counteraction and the direction of activities to be maintained in the relations with the U.S. in the days ahead."

This is Kim Jong-un's first message towards the U.S. and South Korea since President Joe Biden took office in January and completed a review of Washington's North Korea policy.

North Korean media said Kim laid out the regime's strategic and tactical response, as well as an action plan, after closely analyzing the Biden administration's new policy.

Some have positively assessed the North Korean leader's remarks, as he has opened the door to stability and dialogue. The emphasis on taking a "proactive role" suggests that the North may be open to returning to the denuclearization dialogue.

The Biden administration, which pledged to pursue a "calibrated, practical approach" toward the goal of the peninsula's complete denuclearization, is set to send Sung Kim, its new North Korea special representative, to Seoul on Saturday.

Challenges to face-to-face diplomacy remain - including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has kept North Korea's borders shuttered. Seoul and Washington are also set to hold a combined military exercise in August.

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