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S. Korea, US set to hold high-level talks this week as N.Korea marks Korean war ‘victory’


North Korea will hold a nationwide politically charged event for its “War Victory Day” to mark the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. High-ranking US and South Korean officials will have in-person meetings in Seoul and Washington this week to discuss mounting threats from North Korea.

The eighth national conference of war veterans will be held in the capital city of Pyongyang to mark the “great war victory day, which is the great pride and honor of our dignified state and people,” the Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, reported Sunday in a Korean-language report.

North Korea has celebrated the July 27 anniversary of the signing of the armistice agreement that ended the three-year Korean War (1950-1953) as the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.”

North Korea’s party and government have decided to convene another meeting of war veterans, reflecting the aspiration and will of all party members, workers and young people to “persistently inherit the spirit of defending the motherland and preserving the integrity of revolution that the generation of war victors hold.”

“The eighth conference of war veterans will mark a significant opportunity for our people and today’s young generation — who bravely usher in a phase of new development for social construction while standing against every challenge and hardship and firmly rallying around the party — to redouble their pride and invincible faith as descendants of the victors,” the Rodong Sinmun read.

Kim Jong-un’s message to US
A total of seven events took place between 1993 and 2021 to commemorate the country’s claim of triumph against the US, step up political indoctrination and consolidate internal unity by harking back to alleged US atrocities during the Korean War. The six gatherings of North Korean war veterans were held under the Kim Jong-un regime.

But this year, the event comes as South Korea and the US assess if North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear at the Punggye-ri underground testing site. Since early this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has also publicly and repeatedly justified his plan for accelerating military and nuclear buildup, upholding the “power-for-power principle” against the US.

In addition, North Korea has recently stepped up anti-American propaganda on the occasion of the “month of anti-US joint struggle,” which the country designates as the period between June 25 and July 27. For instance, Pyongyang resumed anti-American events this June, which had been suspended between 2018 and 2021.

Against that backdrop, many are focused on external messages that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could send during the upcoming event.

Kim attended and delivered speeches at the conference in 2015, 2020 and 2021. In 2020, he warned that any country will “pay a dear price” if they attempt to invade North Korea, emphasizing that the word “war” would longer exist due to the country’s “reliable and effective self-defense nuclear deterrent.”

S. Korea-US high-level talks
At this critical juncture, high-ranking US and South Korean officials are set to meet in Seoul and Washington this week, as part of their efforts to step up high-level exchanges and communications in the wake of the South Korea-US summit on May 21.

US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland will travel to Seoul between Tuesday and Thursday after visiting Tokyo this week, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said on July 23.

Nuland will coordinate on regional and global issues, including economic security, food security, Russia’s war against Ukraine, and the threat to regional stability posed by North Korea during her meetings with South Korean and Japanese government officials between Monday and Thursday, the US State Department announced on July 22.

South Korea’s Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup is set to visit the US this week and meet US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the end of this month. Both sides are expected to discuss a wide range of security issues, including ways to enhance the viability of the US’ extended deterrence and the resumption of large-scale regular combined military exercises.

The talks are being held about 1 1/2 months after Lee and Austin’s first in-person meeting in Singapore.

Kim Gunn, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, and US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim also met on July 22 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The two discussed coordinated responses against nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announced the following day.

“Given that our government is devising a road map on North Korea policy in consultation among relevant ministries and close coordination with the US, the top South Korean and US nuclear envoys had a concrete and in-depth discussion on the road map during the meeting,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Friday announced that it has been focusing on crafting an “audacious plan” to achieve North Korea’s denuclearization. The essence of the roadmap is to provide economic compensation and security guarantees in stages and simultaneously in return for North Korea’s “substantial measures for denuclearization,” the ministry said.

Since the inauguration of the Yoon Suk-yeol government on May 10, South Korea and the US have held a spate of high-level bilateral meetings on North Korea and regional issues in response to North Korea‘s record-breaking ballistic missile launches. 

South Korean spy chief Kim Kyou-hyun kicked off his low-key visit to the US last week amid growing concerns over the possibility of North Korea’s nuclear tests.

(dagyumji@heraldcorp.com)





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