North Korea-South Korea: North Korea failed to respond to South Korea's proposal to hold Red Cross talks on 29 January at Panmunjom to work out details for family reunions in February. The North also failed to respond to South Korea s offer to hold reunions next month for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North's silence resulted in no Red Cross meeting on 29 January. It also calls into question whether family reunions could be held at Mount Kumgang between 17 and 22 February, as South Korea proposed.
Comment: North Korean policy is disjointed. That condition suggests the charm or reconciliation offensive is not real and might be part of a deception plan.
Supporting that judgment is the absence of diplomatic activity. North Korean media have reported the arrival or departure of no foreign delegations since 14 January. The last was by a member of the Japanese House of Councilors. Prior to that, the last foreign delegation was that led by Dennis Rodman. North Korea has sent no delegations abroad apparently since the death of Chang Sung-taek.
In times of political normality, foreign delegations arrive at or depart from Pyongyang several times a week. The absence of diplomatic activity reinforces the observation that North Korea has turned inward. It is not engaging in significant foreign initiatives and not responding to its own initiatives on North-South relations.
The absence of normal diplomatic activity is a general warning indicator. That means that conditions in the North are not normal but the reason is not yet clear.
The last comment is significant because North Korean media almost daily repeat the propaganda theme that North and South Koreans can and must solve the challenge of reunification. Nevertheless, the North has failed to respond to South Korea proposals and ignored its own proposals.
The disconnect between North Korea's words and actions justify a high alert condition by South Korean and Allied military forces. It also suggests that the overtures to the South are gestures without substance. They might provide cover for the continuing purges and campaigns to guard against counter-revolution. They also might cover North Korean preparations for a military provocation.
China Relations. A South Korean news outlet reported that on 10 January Kim Jong Un approved a security plan aimed at eliminating the "China pigs." The "China pigs" are all those people who worked with Chang Sung-taek to attract Chinese investment in North Korea.