North Korea has suspended its plans for more military action against the South, the country’s state media has said.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the country’s Central Military Commission which was chaired by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
It comes a week after his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, threatened unspecified military action – shortly after she gave the order to blow up a joint liaison office.
Kim Jong-un (left) has suspended North Korea’s planned military actions against the South, state media said, after sister Kim Yo-jong (right) threatened to carry them out last week
The younger Kim has spearheaded a recent escalation in tensions with South Korea, giving the order to blow up a joint liaison office last week
The younger Kim had repeatedly warned South Korea to stop sending propaganda leaflets across the border, before giving the order to destroy the office.
She had also threatened to send 12million North Korea leaflets to the South and to deploy troops to the demilitarised zone.
Ms Kim had also overseen the erection of propaganda loudspeakers at the border, some of which are now being dismantled.
While observers say it is not immediately clear why North Korea suddenly decided to ease tensions, it is possible the two Kims are establishing a new ‘good cop, bad cop’ dynamic.
The moves could also have been designed to boost Ms Kim’s standing within the country and groom her for leadership, amid fears for her brother’s health.
Having made the public and wider world aware of her new, active, role within the North’s leadership, it is possible the Hermit Kingdom is now easing off.
The elder Kim ‘took stock of the prevailing situation’ before deciding to suspend the military plans on Tuesday, state-run media said, without elaborating.
Ms Kim had also overseen the erection of propaganda loudspeakers at the border, some of which are now being taken down again
The committee also discussed documents outlining measures for ‘further bolstering the war deterrent of the country,’ KCNA reported.
North Korea’s military was seen removing about 10 loudspeakers near the demilitarised zone (DMZ) on Wednesday, just days after they were seen reinstalling around 20 of the devices, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
About 40 such systems were taken down after the two Koreas signed an accord in 2018 to cease ‘all hostile acts’.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said it is monitoring the situation.
The ministry also confirmed reports that a number of official North Korea propaganda websites had removed some articles critical of South Korea, though the spokesman said it was unclear why.
Kim Jong Un’s decision to suspend the unspecified military actions may represent a reprieve from weeks of increasingly provocative moves by North Korea.
North Korea had also threatened to send 12million anti-South leaflets across the border, in retaliation for a leaflet campaign orchestrated by Seoul
Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, warned last week of retaliatory measures against South Korea that could involve the military, without elaborating.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) later said it had been studying an ‘action plan’ that included sending troops into joint tourism and economic zones.
Plans could also involve reoccupying abandoned border guard posts that had been, taking steps to ‘turn the front line into a fortress,’ and supporting plans for the North to send its own propaganda leaflets into the South.
Jenny Town, with the U.S.-based North Korea-monitoring website 38 North, said anti-South Korea rhetoric from the North over the past week had left room for flexibility, but it was still unclear where the latest moves will lead.
‘Overall, it doesn´t appear that the North has necessarily wanted to be overly provocative,’ she said.
‘While it seems set on reversing the measures taken in the inter-Korean agreements -in a dramatic fashion – so far, the rhetoric has already been milder since the demolition of the liaison office.’