“We are only holding a military parade in the capital, not military exercises aimed at anyone or launching anything. Why are they taking the trouble to crane their necks to follow what is happening in the north,” Kim said in a statement released by North Korea. -run news agency, KCNA.
Kim’s comments were made public as an important week-long North Korean political event, the Eighth Labor Party Congress, ended. The congress is being held for North Korea’s rulers to gather and reflect on the successes and failures of the past years and set an agenda for the near future. They are typically held every five years or so, but Kim’s father and predecessor – Kim Jong Il ̵
Experts had speculated that North Korea might mark the end of the Congress with a military parade, but as of Wednesday afternoon on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean state media had not released any photos or video of such an event.
However, South Korea’s joint chief of staff said on Monday that they had spotted signs of a military parade taking place in North Korea on Sunday night. North Korea often releases smoothly produced propaganda videos of these events instead of broadcasting them live.
Kim Yo Jong seemed to confirm that a parade had taken place while mocking the South for wasting his time, though these parades offer valuable clues about the infamous secret system of the country’s weapons systems. Kim also claimed that Seoul’s espionage was a sign of its “hostile approach to compatriots in the north.”
“Do they really have nothing to do but let their military body ‘precision track’ the festivities in the north?” she said.
Kim was photographed at congressional meetings, meaning she is unlikely to have been purged. North Korean state media aired strange footage with her wearing what appeared to be heels and skirts in the cool weather. However, she was seen walking to the side – not in a row with other officials and her brother, as she has often been seen doing.
All of this points to the possibility that Kim’s title change has little bearing on what she does on a daily basis.
Cheong Seong-chang, a fellow at the Wilson Center’s Asia program and senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said that while Kim was effectively demoted, her statement shows that “she still handles and controls issues concerning South Korea.”
Thae Yong Ho, a former North Korean diplomat who dropped out and then became a lawmaker in the South, said he does not take much status in the mystery surrounding Kim Yo Jong’s official role.
“Access to Kim Jong Un is a more important indicator of power status in North Korea,” Thae said.
North Korea’s economic focus
The main focus of the party congress, which began last week, was improving North Korea’s economy.
“This was a congress focusing on the failure of the last five years of economic development and how to learn from it and get it right in the next five years,” said John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Relations.
However, North Korea did not publish any specific plans for how the country will improve its economy in the medium term. The published speeches and statements include typical renunciations of socialism and self-confidence, but nothing that will improve the structural issues of the country’s extremely inefficient command economy.
Experts studying North Korea’s economy were concerned that Kim may have indicated a breakdown in limited domestic marketing, which has been key to growth.
Ramon Pacheco Pardo, KF-VUB Korea’s chairman of the Institute for European Studies, said it made sense for North Korea to strengthen free trade to “enable greater control over the population”, but warned that the regime “can not really roll back over 20 years of marketing the economy. “
North Korea’s nuclear plans
Kim Jong Un’s economic agenda may have turned out sadly short on the details, but his plans to upgrade and improve North Korea’s conventional and nuclear weapons were anything but.
Halfway through the congress, the North Korean leader announced that Pyongyang was developing several new systems, including a nuclear-powered submarine, tactical nuclear weapons, and advanced retraction vehicles designed to penetrate or deceive missile defense systems.
Pyongyang is likely to have to resume weapons testing to provide new warheads or low-yield nuclear weapons, and such tests will immediately anger the international community.
Advanced retraction vehicles delivering atomic bombs to their targets would impair the effectiveness of U.S. missile defense systems. Low-yield atomic bombs worry scientists because they are more tasty to use as a “first strike” option.
“These are the opportunities that are more likely to be used in a limited conflict of force to cover offensive goals,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow and director of the Defense Posture Project of the Federation of American Scientists.
It is now up to the forthcoming Biden administration in the United States to prevent North Korea from developing and deploying these weapons, which Pyongyang is prohibited from doing by UN Security Council resolutions.
However, the prospects for renewed negotiations appear weak at the moment.
Despite Kim’s three personal meetings with US President Donald Trump, he said he still considers the United States North Korea’s biggest enemy. North Koreans, Kim said, must “do everything we can to strengthen our deterrent nuclear war and develop the strongest military capability” in order to stand strong against Washington’s so-called “hostile policies.”
Mount and other experts believe that while the United States must maintain its ultimate goal of freeing North Korea from nuclear weapons, Washington needs to focus on more realistic results in the short term.
“It is quite clear that North Korea will be a nuclear nation, a nuclear-weapon state for the foreseeable future,” Mount said. “The bigger problems are these new systems, which can pose a major stability risk.”