The Pyongyang regime could use the arrest of the young soldier as a weon to negotiate with Washington. What do the analysts say?
The arrest of a United States soldier by North Korea This Tuesday, after it crossed the dividing line by surprise, opens the door for the regime to interact again with the outside at a time when the country still displays a paranoid attitude towards the covid and keeps its borders tightly sealed. and singing.
The arrest has prompted various analysts to meditate on Pyongyang’s possible response at a time marked by the high tensions of the last two years, which in the last week have also brought new episodes.
Among them are from North Korean missile launchesincluding one of solid fuel and intercontinental range, until the arrival in South Korea of a US submarine with atomic weons for the first time in 40 years.
Experts debate whether the regime could use this private American as a a token to negotiate a concession with Washington or if, on the contrary, he would opt for a goodwill gesture by returning him to his country immediately, something that could open the door to dialogue which has been on the siding since 2019 and which Pyongyang has long rejected.
“Could Washington send a high representative to free the military man, as hpened when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea in 2018 to pick up three imprisoned Americans or as when former President Bill Clinton went to Pyongyang to bring two journalists from a Californian station back home?” some are already wondering.
However, the first unknown to be cleared up is whether the North Korean regime, which keeps intact its policy of close (even more) the country to the outside since the beginning of 2020, he plans to take this opportunity to start looking outwards.
To get an idea of the lengths to which the Kim Jong-un regime has gone to shield itself from the entry of the covid-19 epidemic (a measure that many experts believe has also been implemented to further isolate the population and tighten control that the regime maintains on it), it should be remembered that until now there was only evidence that two people have been able to access North Korea in the last three years.
They are a North Korean defector who returned to his country from the South by swimming across the Han and Imjin river delta and the Chinese ambassador to North Korea, Wang Yajun, who arrived in the North Korean cital in April after spending several days in strict quarantine at a facility next to the border city of Sinuiji.
Neither North Korean workers nor diplomats abroad have been able to return to their country since the beginning of 2020 due to the state of anti-viral paranoia in which the place where they were born still lives.
Reinforced fences and order to shoot
Studies using satellite photos have shown that the regime (which in the summer of 2020 issued a order to shoot anyone who came near the borders) has greatly strengthened the fencing around the dividing lines with China and Russia, doubling it in many areas, and multiplying the guard posts in these regions.
However, there is a border point where the North Korean authorities cannot make changes of any kind: the Joint Security Zone (JSA), the place through which the soldier, identified as Travis T. King, 23, crossed on Tuesday. years.
It is an area located in the heart of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas and is the only point where soldiers from both countries see each other. Or they looked, rather.
After the outbreak of the pandemic, North Korea began to gradually reduce the activity of its military in the JSA, to the point that its presence today is invisible there.
A Swedish tourist who was on Tuesday with King on the guided tour that the soldier took advantage of to cross into North Korea corroborated this by writing on his Facebook page: “There were no North Koreans in sight, not even the guards next to the famous line on the other side”.
In this way, and after remaining for more than three years as a nation completely impervious to the outside, North Korea is now in a totally unexpected scenario.
It would not be surprising if King, like any North Korean military personnel who have come into contact with him, is currently under strict quarantine while authorities deliberate how to proceed from here.