March 02, 2024
Columns

“Hermit” no more: a North Korea cliché and its pitfalls

Kim Jong Un wasn’t hiding, just biding his time – like his father before him

Like everyone, I’m striving to grasp and frame the strange new place the Korean peninsula is at right now. My first article in this series looked at how Kim Jong Un cemented his rule after inheriting power in 2011. He began with the home front: reining in the KPA, purging rivals, and restoring Party pre-eminence – under him, of course. This occupied his first four years.

From 2016 Kim turned to securing his external flank. A flurry of ever more powerful nuclear and ICBM tests rendered North Korea impregnable beyond doubt, while dangerously stoking tensions. Remember how nervous we were a year ago? It seemed things could only get worse.

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