North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declared that he will no longer seek reunification with South Korea, announcing plans to bolster its military arsenal in 2024.
Military agenda unveiled: In a recent speech concluding five days of ruling party meetings, Kim outlined North Korea’s aggressive military agenda for 2024, which includes increasing its nuclear capabilities, launching three new spy satellites and deploying military drones, state media reported on Dec. 31, 2023.
“Because of reckless moves by the enemies to invade us, it is a fait accompli that a war can break out at any time on the Korean peninsula,” Kim said, according to Reuters. He vowed to “pacify the entire territory of South Korea,” hinting at the potential use of nuclear weapons in the event of an attack.
Abandonment of reunification: Kim went on to describe North-South relations as those between “two hostile countries,” asserting that South Korea has become a colonized state dependent on the U.S. for defense, reported CNN.
“I believe that it is a mistake that we must no longer make to deal with the people who declare us as ‘the main enemy’ and seek only opportunities for ‘[our] regime collapse’ and ‘unification by absorption’ by collaborating for reconciliation and unification,” said Kim.
Reactions from South Korea: In response, South Korea’s defense ministry warned of overwhelming retaliation in the face of any nuclear aggression “by utilizing the dramatically strengthened extended deterrence of the ROK-U.S. alliance and the three-axis system, and the Kim Jong-Un regime will face its end.”
South Korea’s Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho would later reiterate the nation’s ability to craft a “thicker and more elevated deterrence system through the strengthening of the Seoul-Washington alliance.”
Enhanced trilateral security cooperation: Kim’s speech comes weeks after the reveal of a joint system between the U.S., Japan and South Korea that enables them to share real-time information on North Korean missiles. This new mechanism builds on the Trilateral Information Sharing Arrangement of 2014, further linking Japan and South Korea’s channels together and enabling faster analysis of missile launches and trajectories.