NewsNorth Korea's Kim Jong Un sparks fears of conflict: Is a war on the horizon?

North Korea's Kim Jong Un sparks fears of conflict: Is a war on the horizon?

Korean Peninsula on the brink of war? "Financial Times" analyzes Kim Jong Un's decisions (in the picture)
Korean Peninsula on the brink of war? "Financial Times" analyzes Kim Jong Un's decisions (in the picture)
Images source: © Getty Images | SOPA Images
4:14 PM EST, January 28, 2024

The "Financial Times" scrutinizes recent decisions and proclamations made by Kim Jong Un in its article. Discussions with experts have led the British daily to the unnerving speculation that Kim Jong Un is readying his country for a war with its neighbors.

Evidence of this regime change is the dismantling of the Arch of Unification in Pyongyang, a monument symbolizing aspirations for the unification of both Koreas that have remained officially at war since the severe armed conflicts of 1950-1953.

The dawn of a "new, dangerous era" on the Korean Peninsula

Analysts cited by the "Financial Times" argue that Kim's about-face has triggered a new and hazardous phase in the long-stagnant conflict between the two countries. Some conclude that this could be the precursor to an imminent war.

The departure from the unification policy instated since the 1940s demonstrates that Kim, emboldened by the advancements his country has made in its nuclear weapons program and the progression of military cooperation with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, is taking a more aggressive stance - "Financial Times" ascertains.

"The Korean Peninsula is in the most difficult state since June 1950 (...). We suspect that, much like his grandfather in the 1950s, Kim Jong Un has made a strategic decision to go to war." American diplomat Robert Carlin and nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker sounded the warning in a recent commentary for the Washington-based think tank, the Stimson Center.

South Korea transitions from a fraternal country to an enemy

For many years, North Korean propaganda portrayed South Koreans as compatriots held hostage by a "puppet regime" in Seoul under US control. This narrative served to legitimate the Pyongyang authorities and instill a sense of moral purpose in an oppressed North Korean population, as explained by the "Financial Times".

However, this policy has recently undergone a drastic shift, as evidenced by Kim's speech on January 16. Addressing the country's facade national parliament, he declared that the relationship between both Koreas has devolved "from one of kinship and homogeneity to that between two hostile nations and two warring parties."

Stimson Center analyst Rachel Minyoung Lee contends that before announcing this change, the dictator "prepared the military and legal foundations for the use of nuclear weapons against South Korea, if and when necessary". In her view, it would be challenging to justify using such a weapon against a nation previously considered part of its own.

Lee, however, refrains from predicting whether Kim has resolved to wage war.

His actions imply that he will be predisposed to take military action more than ever before, notes Rachel Minyoung.

Some experts downplay escalating war sentiments between both Koreas

Despite the Korean Peninsula heading into "stormy waters", the fundamental nature of the conflict remains unchanged - opines Sydney Seiler, an analyst from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Seiler has been studying North Korea while at the National Intelligence Council USA from 2020 to 2023.

In Seiler's view, the advancement of Kim's arms program both qualitatively and quantitatively opens up more offensive opportunities and further enables coercion. He maintains that Kim's strategy and timeline may not yet be determined. However, people are finally beginning to realize that North Korea has not been seeking nuclear weapons solely for defensive purposes, Seiler assesses.

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