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Kim Jong Un appears to be easing provocations against South Korea

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the suspension of military actions against South Korea, the Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday, citing comments made at a meeting with party officials.

Leading a video conference with the central Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim discussed documents on “state measures for further bolstering the war deterrent of the country.”

The KCNA report said that “the WPK Central Military Commission took stock of the prevailing situation and suspended the military action plans against the South.”

The news agency did not elaborate.

The announcement came eight days after Kim’s forces demolished a $15 million building in the North Korean border city of Kaesong that was erected in 2018 to symbolize supposedly improving relations between the two Koreas. Satellite imagery has shown that parts of the building remain standing, according to reports.

North Korea ordered its troops into Kaesong, which is also home to a deserted inter-Korean industrial complex — as well as the Mount Kumgang tourist area, another symbolic joint project that involved both nations.

The troop movements and the destruction of the liaison office building followed rising tensions with the Seoul government since two activist groups sent anti-Kim leaflets by balloon across the border into North Korea early this month. That prompted Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, to issue an unusual statement saying that it was “high time” to break ties with South Korea.

But the Kim government may have another motive. North Korea’s economy, already weighed down by international sanctions, faces fresh hardships because of borders being shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.


© 2020 Bloomberg News

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