Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Greetings – TTG


"SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s surprise call on Monday for direct talks with South Korea could drive a wedge into the decades-old alliance between Seoul and Washington, potentially creating a reprieve from months of tensions but also undercutting President Trump’s tough approach to the nuclear-armed North.

A New Year’s Day speech by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, contained a dramatic shift in tone and policy regarding the South. After ignoring South Korea for years, Mr. Kim called for urgent dialogue to discuss improving ties and easing military tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula, even as he claimed an ability to strike the mainland United States with nuclear missiles.

Mr. Kim also agreed to a request by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to send a North Korean delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be held in the South next month.

Mr. Kim’s about-face, which was broadcast on state-run television, came just days after Washington rallied its allies and rivals to support increasingly punishing United Nations sanctions against North Korea."  (NYT)


Along with his dapper new suit, Kim Jong-un greeted the new year with a new tack in his statesmanship. He is reaching out to Seoul for direct talks and agreeing to send a delegation to the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Along with this message, Kim declared that the DPRK has established a nuclear deterrence force and that the button for that force sits on his desk. 

President Moon Jae-in quickly responded favorably to Kim’s overture. I’m sure Moscow and Beijing will also respond favorably. I firmly believe that neither Moscow nor Beijing are keen on the DPRK becoming a nuclear armed state, but they both would prefer a nuclear DPRK to a failed DPRK. I predict Putin and Xi will provide the necessary cover from the inevitable rage tweets from Mar-a-Lago to allow Kim and Moon to seek a negotiated solution to the problems of the Korean peninsula. 



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11 Responses to Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Greetings – TTG

  1. Barbara Ann says:

    Mr Kim is clearly well-advised, this seems a clever strategy.
    John Everard, former UK Ambassador to DPRK was quoted on BBC today highlighting another aspect of the speech; a change to its nuclear doctrine. He said that the speech changed DPRK’s previous stance of nuclear first strike only against a nuclear-armed enemy (i.e. the US) to a new stance where it could use nuclear weapons to strike any enemy violating it’s sovereignty or interests – e.g. Japan, South Korea. Is this true and if so, is it significant, as Everard suggests? at about 6:30

  2. ked says:

    It’s dapper alright, but are there no decent dear-leader tailors in the DPRK?

  3. Barbara Ann,
    Sounds like DPRK policy on nuclear weapons is mirroring the policy espoused by the Trump administration just last December. This is from a “Guardian” article from 18 Dec 2017.
    “While nuclear deterrence strategies cannot prevent all conflict, they are essential to prevent nuclear attack, non-nuclear strategic attacks, and large-scale conventional aggression,” the NSS said. “Non-nuclear strategic attacks” represents a new category of threat that US nuclear weapons could be used to counter, and points towards likely changes in the Nuclear Posture Review expected in the next few weeks. In September, the deputy assistant secretary of defence, Rob Soofer, included “cyber-attacks against US infrastructure” in the category of non-nuclear strategic threats.”

  4. Barbara Ann says:

    Indeed. And all under a delegator CIC seemingly happy to abandon decades-old international taboos (e.g. Jerusalem). The NPR will make for interesting reading.

  5. Bill Herschel says:

    Excellent pick-up.
    For me, Kim’s statement could have been written by Putin and Lavrov. Ukraine for the Ukrainians. Syria for the Syrians. Korea for the Koreans. And, by the way, I have a button on my desk.
    Even the timing is Putinesque. Not enough time for the U.S. to start screaming and yelling about North Korean drug violations, transgender athletes, etc.
    And the back-drop is Jerusalem. The antithesis of effective diplomacy. Oh, and I guess, “Fire, fury, and, frankly, power”. A pathetic fool has been elected President who can be counted on to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, such as backing Judge Roy Moore at the last minute. His wooden stake has penetrated the sternum of the Republican Party, and The Tweeter in Chief just keeps on hammering. Mourning in America.

  6. Haralambos says:

    Happy New Year all, and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2018. I am guardedly optimistic and hopeful that this news is a harbinger of greater sanity and security ahead.

  7. jpb says:

    The Koreans have been talking to Vladimir Putin, who offers a solution for everyone at the table. The USA leaves South Korea and North Korea ends its nuclear arms program. There….that takes care of USA nuclear narrative hysteria and the real cost of maintaining a failing empire outpost.. DJT wins biggly!
    The Russians offer to run a gas line from Siberia down the Korean Peninsula, ensuring energy requirements for the Korean economy. The pipeline transit fees would subsidize the North Korean economy while it modernizes with help from the Eurasian countries.
    North Korean and South Korea agree to reunite the country over a fifty year schedule brokered by China and Russia (SCO). Japan is happy because the Korean nuclear threat is neutralized and there is business to do rebuilding North Korea. Japan moves closer to the day they can ask the USA occupiers to leave! Japan can join the Eurasian century; next Germany. The USA empire is finished. We will become a normal country, minding our own business.
    China and Russia are pleased to see the USA chaotic military threat leave their neighborhood. The problem of a chaotic resolution of the Korea conflict is avoided. Peaceful means of resolution avoid war! The USA avoids financial disaster, as China and Russia hold the gun with the golden bullets to the head of the USD. The real war is now being fought by the US Treasury and US DOJ. The USA military is irrelevant or worse as a factor in resolving escalating tension in world finance and politics.
    Happy New Year Everyone!

  8. confusedponderer says:

    to me the more disturbing thing of the US CiC recently was Mr. Trump talking with Merkel, about economy and demanding suggesting that Germany should give the US advantages in trade. Likely a variant of ‘Trump America great and first‘ and all that.
    Merkel is said to have held her breath and calmly told him that Germany couldn’t do that alone since that is a EU thing and that thus there could be no bilateral deal about the matter.
    Not getting her point Trump then is said to have answered enthusiastically something along the line that then the US would make a bilateral deal with the EU. See, so simple.
    Well, not so simple actually since there’s is a good reason for Merkel’s disbelief:
    ANY DEAL WITH the EU about international trade IS not bilateral but INEVITABLY MULTINATIONAL. As for Trump’s idea about a ‘bilateral US-EU deal’ – well, it is simply utterly impossible for the US to make a bilateral deal with an organisation that is per se multinational. It’s just as impossible than doing a solo dance with a regiment.
    Trump doesn’t know and he just doesn’t care about such distracting little details.

  9. And Putin’s New Year’s Eve Message (hit the CC button for English translation):
    Putin’s New Year Address 2018 – Tell Words of Love and Care to Each Other
    Besides the short speech – half the video – the rest shows beautiful views of the Moscow architecture.

  10. Valissa says:

    ROTFLMAO… it doesn’t get any better than this… good thing I wasn’t drinking anything when I read this headline from WaPo in my inbox…
    Trump to North Korean leader Kim: My ‘Nuclear Button’ is ‘much bigger & more powerful’
    I think Kim Jong Un has finally met his match 😉
    It’s times like these that I keenly feel the loss of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. Just imagining a geopolitical reality tv show with Kim, Trump and Ahmadinejad competing for… something… has me giddy. Perhaps a setting such as a leadership panel discussion at the Muhammad Ali School of International Relations would provide a good backdrop.

  11. different clue says:

    (reply to comment 8),
    Could this also work if the end state were a Two State Solution for the Koreas? With North and South Korea mutually recognizing eachother and agreeing that they will be Two Countries for the indefinite future?
    Because if your plan only works by re-unifying the Koreas, and neither Korea wants to adopt the other Korea’s social system or political economy; then what happens to your plan?

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