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N. Korea in tug of war with U.S. over denuclearization policy: MND Updated: 2021-07-07 17:13:41 KST

Seoul's defense ministry says North Korea has begun (quote)"a tug of war" with the U.S. over its policy on Pyeongyang while continuing its development of strategic weapons and maintaining its readiness to strike immediately.
This may involve a shake-up in the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises which have been scaled down for four years in a row mainly to not antagonize the North.
Pyeongyang continues to remain unresponsive to Washington, which has expressed willingness to resume denuclearization talks without underlying conditions.
We're talking about it on News In-depth tonight. Reading Between North Korean Lines - our senior North Korea analyst, Dr. Go Myong-hyun joins us live in the studio.
Dr. Go, as always, great to see you this evening.

To better deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, Seoul's defense ministry said today it'll continue to resume (quote)"various joint military exercises" with the U.S. amid speculation that it'll downsize the upcoming annual summertime drill slated for August.
Do you think this will impact the duration, intensity or size of the upcoming joint exercise?

The nuclear envoys of China and the U.S. talked on the phone on Tuesday.
Given that China is North Korea's number one ally, do you think the move could help bring North Korea to denuclearization talks with the U.S.? Also do you think a China-U.S. summit could be possible on the sidelines of the G20 slated for October?

South Korean media reports raised the possibility that Ri Pyong-chol , vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party and one of the five members of the politburo presidium has been dismissed.
This comes after Ri was seen with his head down during an extended politburo meeting, in which Kim Jong-un had berated officials for mishandling anti-epidemic measures.
Is there anything about the North's possible reshuffle that you're paying attention to and why?

South Korea's intelligence agency dismissed rumors of the North Korean leader's poor health saying it's groundless. His 20-day absence from the public eye had sparked such rumors.
It's not the first time such rumors have gained traction but then quickly dissolved afterwards.
Will this time be any different? Why do think these rumors pop up frequently, do people expect leadership change in the North anytime soon, and if so, will it be a peaceful transition?

The latest report by the Food and Agriculture Organization said North Korea is expected to face a food shortage of around 860-thousand tons this year.
Although the North has suffered from chronic food shortages before, the UN agency says the situation could be exacerbated due to the North's tight border controls to keep COVID-19 at bay.
How do you read this predicament at a time the country is putting such emphasis on economic self-reliance?

Thank you Dr. Go for your insights tonight. We appreciate it.
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