According to sources from North Korea who spoke to Radio Free Asia’s Korean Service the supreme leader was rushed out into the limelight to show the nation, and the world that he was fit enough to cut the ribbon of the unfinished Sunchon phosphate factory in South Pyongan The source said: “The Number One Event was held in a hurry just to make Kim Jong Un happy, without completing the factory’s testing phase.” This managed media event coincided with shots being fired across the demilitarised zone into a South Korean border post.
Speculation from observers monitoring North Korea claim the action was designed as a show of strength to show the world that the isolated regime was still functional and its military still primed.
The South Korean joint chiefs of staff in Seoul said North Korean troops fired several bullets into a South Korean guard post near the border town of Cheorwon.
South Korean troops then responded with about 20 warning shots.
South Korea’s military considers the incident a violation of a 2018 inter-Korean military agreement.
Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation described the incident as not “accidental”.
He said: “If four rounds struck the South Korean guard post as reported, it was not accidental.
“It was well-aimed fire.
“It was not an accidental or negligent discharge.
“Was this ordered by the regime to serve as a provocation?
“If so it was a very weak one.”
But, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported the South Korean military later said the gunshots were “not deemed intentional.”
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Jessica Le of the Quincy Insitute explained that the lack of clear channels between North Korea and the outside world has led to the regime resorting to communicating its health with the firing of bullets.
Jessica Lee of the Quincy Institute told Radio Free Asia: “I think that the incident at Cheorweon was a violation of the bilateral military agreement that was signed between North Korea and South Korea in 2018.
“I think that just goes to show that absent consistent dialogue and confidence-building measures between the two Koreas, agreements are just words on a piece of paper.
“This is another reason why having constant channels of communication and more normalised relations is key, certainly in this context and in any context in international relations.”
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