Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year, Same Dear Leader

So good news and bad news on North Korea as we begin the new year. The good news is that Kim Jong Un seemed pretty eager to talk to South Korea as the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang are only six weeks away and the Olympics seems to be a good excuse to get together and talk stability on the peninsula.  The bad news is Kim's bragging about the new "nuclear button" installed on his desk at work.

Kim Jong Un on Monday warned the United States that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk ready for use if North Korea is threatened, but offered an olive branch to South Korea, saying he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul.
After a year dominated by fiery rhetoric and escalating tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Kim used his televised New Year’s Day speech to declare North Korea “a peace-loving and responsible nuclear power” and call for lower military tensions on the Korean peninsula and improved ties with the South.

“When it comes to North-South relations, we should lower the military tensions on the Korean Peninsula to create a peaceful environment,” Kim said. “Both the North and the South should make efforts.”

Kim said he will consider sending a delegation to the Winter Olympics Games to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.

“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to showcase the national pride and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility,” Kim said.

South Korea said it welcomed Kim’s offer to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Games and hold talks with the South to discuss possible participation.

“We have always stated our willingness to talk with North Korea any time and anywhere if that would help restore inter-Korean relations and lead to peace on the Korean peninsula,” a spokesman for the presidential Blue House said.

“We hope the two Koreas will sit down and find a solution to lower tensions and establish peace on the Korean peninsula.”

Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Organizing Committee, said the organization welcomed participation by the North Koreans.

“The (organizing committee) will discuss relevant matters with the South Korean government as well as the International Olympic Committee,” he said in a statement.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said North Korea’s participation will ensure safety of the Pyeongchang Olympics and proposed last month that Seoul and Washington postpone large military drills that the North denounces as a rehearsal for war until after the Games.

At least it's something.  Lord knows South Korea can't count on the US anymore, so I'm sure they're eager to take full advantage of Pyongyang's overtures on this.  Hell, if I were Kim, I'd rather talk to Seoul than Washington anyway.  Maybe this will end up a good thing in the long run.

We'll see where this goes.

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