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NK leader seeks to define S. Korea as 'primary foe' in constitution

2024-07-13 20:16:17      点击:509
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during the 10th session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang,<strong></strong> Monday, in this photo released by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, Tuesday. Yonhap

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during the 10th session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly in Pyongyang, Monday, in this photo released by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, Tuesday. Yonhap

Yoon vows stronger retaliation against Pyongyang's military provocationBy Lee Hyo-jin

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has proposed amending the Constitution to officially designate South Korea as the "primary foe." Additionally, he expressed an intent to annex the South in the event of a war. Analysts believe this could signify a transformative moment in inter-Korean relations.

"We can specify in our Constitution the issue of completely occupying, subjugating and reclaiming the ROK and annex it as a part of the territory of our republic in case a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula," Kim was quoted as saying by the North's state-run mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Tuesday. The ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea's official name.

He made the remarks during a speech at the 10th session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) held the previous day, according to KCNA.

"And I think it is right to specify in the relevant paragraph of our Constitution ... that education should be intensified to instill into them (North Korean people) the firm idea that ROK is their primary foe and invariable principal enemy," he said, emphasizing the need to discuss the constitutional revision at the next SPA session.

Just last week, Kim already labeled South Korea as the regime's "principal enemy" and declared that it has no intention of avoiding a war.

In Monday's address, the North Korean leader vowed to permanently sever all inter-Korean communication channels, including physically cutting off railway tracks on their side. Additionally, he urged the complete removal of the "Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification," located at the entrance to Pyongyang, which commemorates the reunification principles established by the regime's founder, Kim Il-sung.

Under the belief that Seoul is no longer a partner for unification or reconciliation, North Korea has decided to dismantle three agencies dedicated to promoting inter-Korean cooperation. This move implies a suspension of government-level talks, economic cooperation projects, and human exchanges for the time being.

Hong Min, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, analyzed that Kim's latest remarks may signal a "fundamental shift in inter-Korean relations in the 70-year history of division," noting that the primary target of his messages seems to be the United States and not South Korea.

"Kim Jong-un's description of South Korea as a hostile nation ultimately signals that he no longer regards Seoul as a party directly involved in issues linked to the Korean Peninsula. This indicates his intention to manage matters related to the peninsula primarily through North Korea-U.S. interactions," Hong said.

Cha Du-hyeogn, a senior researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, commented that the constitutional amendment would only serve to accentuate the abnormal values embraced by the reclusive regime.

"Last year, North Korea integrated a policy of fortifying its nuclear forces into its Constitution. Now, it is attempting to designate a specific country as a primary foe, further deviating from international standards regarding what constitutes normal constitutional values for a country," Cha said.

Military guard posts of South Korea and North Korea are seen near the border in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. Yonhap

Military guard posts of South Korea and North Korea are seen near the border in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. Yonhap

In response, the Yoon Suk Yeol administration reiterated its commitment to an overwhelming response to North Korean threats.

"The North Korean authorities have characterized inter-Korean relations not as ties between nations sharing homogeneous backgrounds, but as relations between hostile nations. This acknowledgment reflects the regime's nature as an anti-national and anti-historical group," Yoon said during a Cabinet meeting held just hours after Kim's speech was published.

"If North Korea provokes, we will retaliate with multiple times greater strength," he warned.

The Ministry of Unification condemned Pyongyang's promotion of the "two-Koreas" narrative, condemning the move as "political provocation aimed at creating division within South Korean society."

"North Korea must clearly realize that it cannot gain anything – security, economic benefits or maintainenance of its regime – through the use of nuclear weapons and missiles," the ministry said in a statement.

The U.S. expressed its disappointment over Kim's belligerent rhetoric.

"We are disappointed by the DPRK's continued rejection of dialogue and the escalation of its hostile rhetoric toward the ROK," a State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. The DPRK stands for the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Despite the ongoing tensions between the two Koreas, the likelihood of another war on the peninsula is considered low, according to analysts. This is attributed to Pyongyang's somewhat cautious approach to prevent the escalation of tensions into an actual conflict.

"The intention behind Kim's speech is to convey a message to the U.S. that North Korea is the sole stakeholder in issues related to the Korean Peninsula. The likelihood of actual war provocations seems low," Hong said.

During the assembly speech, the North Korean leader stated, "There is no reason to opt for war, and therefore, there is no intention of unilaterally going to war. But once a war becomes a reality facing us, we will never try to avoid it."

This shows Pyongyang's defensive stance about launching a preemptive attack, Hong viewed.

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