Yes, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea takes itself very seriously. And while the rest of the world views it more or less like a large leper colony, the Kim Dynasty shuffles on.
What have all of the histrionics of the last month accomplished? Essentially the DPRK has announced that it is a nuclear state and they enacted a law that makes it illegal to discuss nuclear disarmament. The announcement that nuclear weapons are a cornerstone of it’s public policy also help them with budgeting. The best guess is that the army is exhausted and they intend to construct a lot more nuclear weapons so that they can stand down some of the infantry and turn them into full time peasants.
There have been personnel changes as well. Two senior military officers who resisted the moves (above) were purged from the National Defense Commission and the Minister of the People’s Security was replaced.
Pak Pong Ju (yes the guys’s name, not an old computer game) has been named premier. Pak is a favorite of Chang Song Taek, Kim’s uncle, and Kim Kyong Hui, Chang’s wife and the sister of the late Kim Chong-il, who now are telling the fat young Kim Jong Un (Dear Leader) what to do.
Pak once was a deputy to Kim Kyong Hui in the Light Industry Ministry. He also is an associate of Chang and reported to be a member of his group of economic technocrats. Six or so years ago as premier, Pak is reputed to have pushed for an hourly wage system in North Korea and for laws protecting the rights of corporations. Kim Chong-il sacked Pak in 2007 and sent him to manage a cement plant.
The winter military build up is now over and the DPRK is transitioning to planting season as things outside of the headlines return to normal and they start building more and better nuclear weapons to sell to other rogue states for hard cash.
On 1 April the government convened the seventh session of the 12 Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) in Pyongyang, which means that the threats of going to war are over, even though the whole DPRK image building exercise is still being carried by the Western Press.
“The soldiers here have returned to barracks following the end of a spell spent underground. They are now reviewing the year’s winter training, while soldiers are also being permitted to go outside their bases….The market here is operating normally, with rice hovering at around the 6800 won level. Farmers are also out there preparing to get started on agriculture, without evacuation or tunnel exercises getting in the way.”
(Nightwatch) All three Kims now have used the threat of war to cover their achievement of controversial domestic issues without US interference, as well as to advance international issues. The leadership’s willingness to pay such costs measures its continuing inability to gauge accurately Allied reaction, after 60 years.
The North’s manipulation of combat readiness measures does not mean it was bluffing. The cost of the civilian mobilization and the increased military readiness steps establish that the North genuinely was prepared to go to general war, but had not made the final decision. Uncertain about the US response, they prepared for the worst.