On Wednesday the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un suspended a planned military retaliation against South Korea, in an apparent slowing of the pressure campaign it has waged against its rival in between the stalled nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Last week, the North had declared relations with the South as fully ruptured. It destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory and threatened unspecified military action to criticize Seoul for a lack of progress in bilateral cooperation and for those activists floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border.
Analysts say that North Korea, after weeks deliberately raising tensions, may be pulling away just enough to make room for South Korean concessions.
If Kim does eventually opt for military action, he may resume artillery drills and other exercises in front-line areas or have vessels deliberately cross the disputed western maritime border between the Koreas. This has caused severe bloody conflicts in the past years. However, any action is likely to be measured to prevent full-scale retaliation from South Korean and U.S. militaries.
Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim presided by video conference over a meeting Tuesday of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, which decided to postpone plans for military action against the South brought up by the North’s military leaders.
KCNA didn’t specify why the decision was made. It said other discussions included strengthening the country’s “war deterrent.”
Yoh Sang-key the, spokesman of South Korea’s Unification Ministry, said Seoul was to closely monitor the North’s report but they have not elaborated further as of now.
Yoh also said it was the first report in state media of Kim holding a video conferencing meeting, but he didn’t provide a specific answer when asked whether that would have something to do with the coronavirus.
The North says there hasn’t been a single COVID-19 case on its territory, but this is being questioned by other experts.