PN's Voice 150

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PN's Voice 150, 08.01.2019
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PN's Voice No. 150  08. 01. 2019 
Small steps, Road to peace

Kim Jong-un's New Year Speech
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said in his new year speech that he hopes to continue denuclearisation talks with Donald Trump in 2019. However, he warned that he could be forced to take a “new path” if the US persists with sanctions against his regime. Kim also stressed that he was willing to meet the US president “at any time” to produce an outcome that would be “welcomed by the international community”. However, he also warned that North Korea would have “no option but to explore a new path in order to protect our sovereignty” if Washington “continues to break its promises and misjudges our patience by unilaterally demanding certain things and pushes ahead with sanctions and pressure”. 
Since their summit in Singapore, in which Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded statement committing the North to “denuclearisation”, negotiations have stalled over disagreements on the exact definition of denuclearisation and which side should be the first to make concessions. Pyongyang has consistently demanded that Washington lift sanctions and declare an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War, while the US has urged the regime to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearisation. In Tuesday’s televised address, which was also broadcast live in South Korea for the first time, Kim called on South Korea to end its joint military drills with the US – which have largely been halted since his summit with Trump – and not deploy strategic military assets to the South. 
As per usual, experts have offered a variety of different interpretations of what Kim’s message means. A popular theory can be summarised as being North Korea will continue to work with Washington and Seoul on denuclearization, but on its own terms.
Kim's speech will be discussed in more detail in this week's English podcast available at the following channel:
Source : The Guardian, The New York Times, BBC News, The Hankyoreh

North Korea's Kim Jong-un visits China's Xi Jinping
North Korea's state media has confirmed that Kim Jong-un is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. North Korean news agency KCNA announced that Kim will be in China for 3 days, returning to Pyongyang on Jan 10th. This news comes amid reports of negotiations for a second summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.
Mr Kim's trip to China this week will be his fourth visit to the country in less than a year. He is accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, as well as several other leading North Korean officials. A number of analysts believe that at least two Kim’s previous trips to China, which took place ahead of the respective historic summits with Presidents Moon and Trump, were seen by some as a chance to co-ordinate strategy with Beijing. Thus, this trip too has been seen as a precursor to a 2nd US-North Korean summit – this expectation was intensified after Donald Trump confirmed plans were in place to meet with Kim Jong-un were ongoing (see below). 
Source : BBC News, Al Jazeera

US in Discussion with North Korea for 2nd Summit Venue
US President Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday that a second summit with North Korea is likely to happen soon. Discussions regarding details such as the location for the summit are underway. “We’re negotiating a location. It will be announced probably in the not-too-distant future,” Trump told reporters. 
Back at the beginning of December, Trump briefly commented on the venue and timing of the US-North Korea summit, saying it would be held in either January or February, with three sites under consideration. Vietnam, Indonesia, Hawaii, Mongolia and the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas are reportedly among possible sites for the summit. 
Amid rising expectations that the next summit is imminent, Trump made it clear that North Korea’s actions toward denuclearization should come before the lifting of international sanctions. “The sanctions remain in full force, in effect. And they will until we have some very positive proof,” Trump said Sunday..
Source : The Korea Herald 

NK Newspaper Demands Complete End to SK-US Military Drills
The Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's official newspaper, urged South Korea on Monday to stop joint military drills with the United States, saying it will help create a peaceful atmosphere and move forward inter-Korean relations. In a tone mirroring that of Kim Jong-un’s new year speech, the report also called on Seoul to stop bringing any foreign strategic assets onto the Korean Peninsula; "Removing nuclear threats on the Korean Peninsula and fostering peaceful mood is an essential requirement for inter-Korean relations to move forward," the newspaper said in a commentary.
"As clearly promised between the North and the South to walk toward the path of peace and prosperity, there should be no joint military exercises with outside forces," it added. "Bringing in war-related equipment, including strategic assets, from outside should also come to a complete end." The paper noted that no matter how productive ongoing dialogue might be and how many cooperative projects are being carried out, military provocations make all those efforts get nowhere. "No sincere talks can be held, let alone better inter-Korean relations, as long as the sound of guns and cannons stay loud and danger of war lingers," it said. 
Source : The Korea Times

Blue House discusses reopening Kaesong and Mt. Kumgang Complexes 
The resumption of operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex and tourism at Mt. Kumgang “without any precondition and in return for nothing” proposed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in his New Year’s address was reportedly the focus of discussions at the Blue House National Security Council standing committee’s first meeting of 2019 on Jan. 3. Many are now watching to see whether the new year’s first South Korea-US working group conference call around the middle of next week will include full-scale discussions on the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue. A first focus of attention is on whether South Korean business owners who run factories in the complex will be visiting North Korea to inspect local facilities, as the complex’s tenant companies have been repeatedly demanding. A Ministry of Unification spokesperson, Baik Tae-hyun, said, “We do not see it as being in violation of sanctions per se for Kaesong Complex tenant company owners to visit the North.”
Originally, 150 business owners from Kaesong Complex tenant companies were scheduled to visit North Korea between late October and early November of last year to inspect factory facilities, which they had been unable to access since the complex’s sudden closure in 2016. But the planned visit ended up not happening as preliminary discussions with the US failed to pan out.. 
Some are speculating the Kaesong issue could come up at the first South Korea-US working group meeting of 2019, which is scheduled to take place as a conference call around the middle of next week. Opinions could be exchanged on the matter of tenant company owners visiting the North.
Source : The Hankyoreh 


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