The recent threats made by Kim Jong Un about walking away from the summit with Donald Trump may be just one colossal bluff. Apparently, the country’s economy is in shambles and unless a deal is made that will provide a massive relief, it will collapse and trigger food shortages all over North Korea.
Threats were caused by the annual joint military exercise held by the United States and South Korea militaries. Pyongyang accused both countries of using this event to push them towards denuclearization. In the official statement, they said: “If the US is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue.”
The big question is, can Kim Jong Un afford to fulfill his threat and cancel the summit, planned for June 12th in Singapore.
According to professor Kim Dong-yup, director of research at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies, he probably can’t and that his regime is shaky at best.
“He has to choose between nuclear weapons and the survival of the regime. He has to shift his focus from security to the economy, otherwise, the North Korean regime will not survive,” he said for news.com.au.
The economic burden placed on the people of North Korea is getting harder to carry, as they become more aware of the world outside their borders and Kim may be forced to choose between nuclear weapons he so desperately developed and economic relief that can be only gained through the lifting of sanctions placed by the West.
“Given the context, that the North Korean people have access to five million mobile phones and numerous markets where they can access information, the regime simply cannot be sustained through control and oppression,” Professor Kim said. “The biggest thing Kim Jong-un is fearful of is not the pressure from the outside world it is his people. So he has made the strategic decision that by keeping nuclear weapons, he will not make his people happy and will not ensure his regime’s survival.”
Lee Ho-ryung, from Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, agrees with professor Kim, stating that regime can no longer survive the current economic situation.
“Under Kim Jong-un’s regime, unlike those of his father Kim Jong-il and grandfather Kim Il-sung, people have greater access to information and have experienced capitalism a lot. So if Kim Jong-un fails to address the economy, it will pose a grave threat to his regime,” Lee said.
Another point of concern is the possibility of President Trump going through with his threats of “fire and fury.”
“The worst case scenario might be if someone walks out of the negotiations. We would have no available diplomatic options,” Kim Yeoul-su, chief of the Security Strategy Office at the Korea Research Institute for Military Affairs, said. “It means we would have to rely on top-end sanctions — and military options. We have to be prepared for that.”
At the moment, all-out war against one of the most paranoid regimes in human history is a nightmare option, but if left with no other choice, it is something the United States is ready to consider.