North Korea's ruling political party held a rare Congress session last week, laying out its major policies and plans including where the regime is going with its nuclear weapons program.
Leader Kim Jong-un named the United States, the North's "primary" enemy, and pledged to bolster nuclear weapons development and the North's military capabilities.
As if to prove he won't just talk the talk, a military parade took place after the weeklong Congress, showcasing what state media claimed was the world's most powerful weapon a new submarine-launched ballistic missile.
This all comes just days before U.S. president elect Joe Biden takes office with his exact policies on North Korea as yet unknown.
Today, we look into some of the key issues today with Chun In-bum, Former Lieutenant General of the South Korean army and commander of South Korea's Special Forces and John Nilsson-Wright, Korea Foundation Korea Fellow at the Chatham House and Senior Lecturer of Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Thank you for joining us.
1. General Chun: The North's parade last week didn't show any ICBMs which some analysts have been optimistic about, saying the parade was not as provocative as it could have been. Would you agree? What message do you think the military display was intended to convey, and who was the target audience?
2. General Chun: What stood out to you about this year's parade?
3. Dr. Nilsson-Wright: Who do you believe North Korea's military parade was directed at and what message do you think the regime trying to send? He admitted that the regime failed to meet goals in economic development, and of course the country last year was suffering from the impact of floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you think the parade was held for a domestic audience?
4. Dr. Nilsson-Wright: Kim Jong-un revived the Workers' Party Congress sessions in 2016 for the first time since 1980. At this year's congress, the party said it will convene the congress every 5 years, and Kim was inaugurated as the General Secretary of the Workers Party, taking over his late father's position. What does this all signify?
5. General Chun: The North unveiled what appeared to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile at its military parade last week. How far along do you think the North is in developing this technology, and what threat would this pose to South Korea and the U.S.?
6. General Chun: Does South Korea have an adequate counter-SLBM strategy at the moment? What should be prioritized to strengthen South Korea's deterrence?
7. Dr. Nilsson-Wright: Kim Jong-un said the North will continue developing its nuclear weapons and strengthen its military capabilities. This comes ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration, of course. To what extent do you think North Korea will apply pressure if Biden doesn't show the reaction it craves?
8. Dr. Nilsson-Wright: Biden picked Wendy Sherman as deputy secretary of state, she was North Korea policy coordinator in the Clinton administration. Kurt Campbell was chosen to head Asia security issues. Do you think they would be more practical or skillful in handling North Korea? Based on what we've seen from the Obama and Trump administrations, what should be avoided when engaging with North Korea?
That was Chun In-bum, former commander of South Korea's special forces and John Nilsson-Wright, Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
Thank you for your time today.