North Korea is once again escalating tensions in the region, firing off six rounds of missiles in about a month.
The regime's hostility doesn't stop there. It released a statement harshly denouncing the South Korean government while also threatening that it has no intention of sitting down with South Korean counterparts again.
This, while South Korea stands at a critical juncture this week, with a series of major diplomatic meetings set to take place with the U.S., China and Japan while the fate of GSOMIA hanging by a thread.
Today we go in-depth on the possible motives behind North Korea's belligerent rhetoric and what to expect ahead this week with Dr. Bong Young-shik of Yonsei University Institute for North Korean Studies.
1. Observing North Korea's latest missile launches, it fired off two projectiles into the East Sea, from different locations each time. Most of the projectiles are likely to have been short-range ballistic missiles. What can we read from this?
2. North Korea's verbal attack on the South Korean government was especially harsh this time. Calling President Moon Jae-in a laughable hypocrite while also lashing out at lawmaker Park Jie-won which is quite rare as Mr. Park played a big role in materializing the first-ever inter-Korean summit that took place in 2000. Why is North Korea upping its denouncement of South Korea?
3. South Korean politicians are, as always, divided on the ways our nation should deal with North Korea's growing belligerence. How do you think South Korea should react to or approach the current situation?
4. North Korea has cited the annual South Korea-U.S. joint military drills as the main reason behind its discontent. The drills will be over tomorrow, do you expect Pyeongyang's provocative acts to be halted?
5. North Korea and China reaffirmed their traditional friendship over the weekend. The director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, Kim Su-gil held talks with the vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Zhang Youxia in Beijing. The talks came on the heels of North Korea's missile launches and amid halted Pyeongyang-Washington nuclear talks. How do you see this?
6. A very busy and critical week for South Korea on the diplomatic front. First up, U.S. Special Representative on North Korean Affairs Stephen Biegun is due in Seoul tomorrow for talks after wrapping up his trip to Japan. Do you think details will be unveiled on the highly-anticipated North Korea-U.S. working-level talks?
7. A Seoul-Beijing-Tokyo trilateral foreign ministers' meeting is also set for this week with Japan announcing that a bilateral Seoul-Tokyo FM meeting will take place on Wednesday. What kind of outcome do you expect from this development?
8. The fate of GSOMIA, a Seoul-Tokyo bilateral military information sharing pact will be decided this week as well. We don't know yet whether the pact will be extended for another year. Can you tell us the implications that scenario carries?