If the mysterious nation of North Korea is good for one thing, it’s taking the rest of the world on a wild ride. Within a year, we’ve seen them go from defying the world with nuclear tests to apparent open amiability at the Winter Olympics. They went from threats of nuclear destruction to requesting a peace summit, and back again twice, all within a few months.
Today’s summit incites a mixture of emotions, but the skeptics within us all are cautious to allow for open hope. Some recent news out of North Korea might change that.
The real news here is that Kim just replaced the top three positions in North Korea’s military, and it all happened within the last week. The positions in question are the first vice minister, Defense Chief and Chief of General Staff. Additionally, he replaced the Director of General Political Bureau fairly recently. Altogether, this represents a total restructure of the military from the top.
It has not escaped the notice of officials and experts around the globe that these changes happening very shortly before today’s summit in Singapore.
Not a lot is known about all of the new officials. Top brass in the U.S. have their suspicions, but for those of us along for the ride, there is little we know with any certainty. One thing that has been made public is that Japanese experts have labeled the new first vice minister, No Kwang-chol, as a moderate. Of course, this is a moderate by North Korea standards, not international norms.
That said, if No Kwang-chol is an indicator, it could show that Kim is trying to move the military away from some of its traditional stances. Kim himself has gone on record saying the personnel changes were necessary to introduce more flexibility into military thinking.
This suggests a couple of things. First, it now seems likely that Kim’s rhetoric that almost cancelled the summit last week was at the behest of the old guard. It was identical to the way things worked back in the 90s. When Trump made it clear that those days are long past, a shift in thinking was Kim’s only choice.
That he made overt changes to enable that shift is encouraging. This certainly doesn’t mean that North Korea is going to abandon its tradition of being a brutal dictatorship, but real, productive negotiations might be a possibility.
The one thing most South Korean and Japanese experts agree on is that Kim probably had no choice but to institute these changes before today’s summit. There are two speculations. The first is more obvious. Kim knows that he is going to have to have at least partial denuclearization on the table for these talks to go anywhere. The old guard was not open to that possibility. They have been replaced.
The second speculation has more to do with security. Kim is on the precipice of an unprecedented absence from his country. There is a very real chance that he could face a coup if top officials don’t like the direction he takes negotiations in the summit. With new leadership, that risk drops precipitously. That will prove especially true if his new officials are in fact more moderate and open to change. It would also suggest that Kim is serious about offering denuclearization in exchange for economic support.
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that it’s largely speculative. There is a ton of secrecy in all things regarding North Korea, and until some kind of treaty is signed, our military still views the nation as one of our most dangerous enemies. Even within our own nation, the hard facts are not readily available. What that means for us is that we are really just along for the ride.
Thankfully, Trump is running this show. Had it happened a year ago, we might be more suspicious and nervous. At this point, President Trump has proven himself one of the most capable leaders in our nation’s history. While we still don’t expect everything to go smoothly and be resolved in a single summit, the genuine hope for forward progress is real.
Most importantly, we can trust Trump not to commit us to a bad deal like some of his predecessors have done. He’s already made America great again. Maybe Korea is next.
~ Freedom News Report