My interview with ‘China Newsweek’ on North Korea’s Year-end Worker’s Party of Korea Meeting

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I was interviewed on December 30, 2019, by Ran Cao, a correspondent specializing in North Korean affairs with China Newsweek. Here is the link in Chinese only (Bing Translator works better than Google Translate in this case) to my interview excerpts.

And below are my full responses in English submitted by email to China Newsweek just before the report of the WPK meeting, containing key excerpts of Kim Jong Un’s 7-hour speech, was released by DPRK media (in lieu of Kim’s New Year’s Address):

“I predict Kim Jong Un will alter his policy sufficiently to expand his missile testing (but likely not his nuclear testing, which is a solid red line for the U.S.) and to put the blame on the intransigent U.S. diplomatic bureaucracy but not on President Trump himself. He may want it to appear that it’s the long-standing, entrenched American government institutional mindset about the DPRK that is the problem, not Trump’s willingness to make a deal. So his message will be that the door is closing much more in 2020 than in 2019, but not completely closed, because Kim cannot afford to make a permanent enemy of Trump, who is very likely to be re-elected. If an impeachment trial is held in the Senate in January and Trump is acquitted, he has February through June to try to make a better deal with North Korea while the Democrats engage in their primary campaign. From July on, Trump will have to be fully focused on re-election.

“I don’t think he will restart his nuclear program, as stated above, but intermediate and SLBM tests are likely, as are other robust testing of conventional weapons.

“Kim has all but ignored South Korea in 2019, and it appears that will continue. If the ROK were not severely constrained by UN sanctions, it could do more to help the North, but politically it cannot. Therefore, Kim finds the ROK of no significant assistance at this time. Moreover, the South willingly participated in certain down-scaled military exercises with the U.S. this year, which was interpreted by the North to mean that the South was fully in lockstep with U.S. policy.”♦

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