Kim Jong Un vows to end his father’s unification of North Korea, declares South Korea his ‘main enemy’

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised on Monday to remove a giant monument built in Pyongyang for the possible reunification of the Korean Peninsula, which he called a “monster in sight.”

Kim’s call during a speech at a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) in Pyongyang was the latest in a series of recent aggressive statements from the North Korean leader, including a New Year announcement that the North would end its policy of rapprochement with the South. Used to be. Korea.

North Korea has also been militarily active in recent weeks, firing hundreds of artillery shells into waters near the disputed border between the North and South and testing a ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle.

In addition to calling for the destruction of the reunification monument, Kim also said on Monday that Pyongyang was dismantling all agencies meant to promote cooperation with Seoul. At the same time, he called the South the North’s “chief enemy and irreconcilable chief enemy.”

While the North Korean leader’s rhetoric is strong, backing it up with the destruction of a symbolic structure built by his father Kim Jong Il – and which represents the principles of his grandfather Kim Il Sung – reflects decades of North Korean policy. Being abandoned, experts said. experts.

The Kim family, starting with Kim Il Sung, has ruled North Korea since its founding in 1948 after World War II.

integration arch

Monument to the Three Point Charter for National Reunification (Reunification Arch) near Pyongyang, North Korea. (Credit: Catriona McGregor/iStockphoto/Getty Images)

The North and South are still technically at war, but both sides have long said the ultimate goal of the war is to one day peacefully reunify the peninsula and see each other as members of the same family.

But Kim’s recent rhetoric is moving away from the goal of reunification and instead portraying South Korea as a staunch enemy.

Jeong Eun-mi, a researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, “Yesterday’s speech shows that Kim Jong Un is breaking with the legacy of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, establishing his own form of power-based unification. Have been.”

“The destruction of the monument symbolically demonstrates this,” he said.

The nine-story arch, which stretches between the Reunification Highway between Pyongyang and the demilitarized zone separating the North and South, is called and known as the Three Letters Memorial for National Reunification. It was completed in 2001 after two years of construction.

It symbolizes the efforts of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung to establish guidelines to unify North and South Korea.

Kim Jong Un made a strong announcement this Monday to end thinking about reunification.

“We must completely eliminate the monstrous ‘Monument of the Three Letters for National Reunification’… and completely eliminate concepts like ‘reunification’, ‘reconciliation’ and ‘compatriots’ from the national history of our Republic. Other measures should be taken.” Kim said, according to KCNA.

Professor Leif-Eric Easley of Ehwa University in Seoul said breaking with his father and grandfather’s unification policies shows that “Kim is sending a strong internal message that North Korea’s challenges are externally motivated.”

Rejection of peaceful reunification

Part of Kim Jong Il’s Three Letters, and a principle introduced into North Korean politics in the 1970s by Kim Il Sung, was that “national reunification should be achieved by peaceful means without resort to weapons.”

But Kim said on Monday that the North, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), “does not want war, but we also have no intention of avoiding it.”

The North Korean leader said that “the risk of war breaking out due to physical confrontation has increased significantly,” and vowed that if war did occur, the North would take over the entire peninsula by force.

At the same meeting at which Kim spoke, the North Korean parliament announced the abolition of the country’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification, the National Economic Cooperation Office and the Kumgangsan International Tourism Administration, all entities designed to cooperate with the Republic of Korea. (ROK), the official name of South Korea.

“Continuing to treat the ROK as a partner for reconciliation and reunification is a serious anachronistic mistake, as it has declared the DPRK the ‘main enemy’ and the only opportunity to ‘overthrow the government’ and achieve ‘unification’ Wanted. By absorption,” KCNA said.

South Korea’s Defense White Paper 2022, released in early 2023, included a line for the first time in six years that said, “The North Korean regime and the North Korean military are our enemies”.

South Korea does not back down

On Tuesday, South Korean leader Yoon Suk Yeol said his government would not be intimidated by Kim’s latest threats.

“If North Korea provokes, we will punish them severely,” Yoon said at a cabinet meeting in Seoul.

Yoon said Kim Jong Un declared the Northern Limit Line (LNL), a disputed de facto border drawn by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War in 1953, illegal.

Yoon on Tuesday described Kim’s rejection of the LNL as “a political provocation to subvert South Korea and harass our people.”

The LNL runs three nautical miles off the coast of North Korea and covers five offshore islands under South Korean control. Earlier this month, North Korea fired about 200 artillery shells that fell inside the nearby maritime buffer zone.

North Korea had previously rejected the LNL and proposed a different line that would roughly extend the DMZ southwest to the Yellow Sea, rather than hugging the North Korean coast.

Yun, who has taken a much tougher stance on North Korea than his predecessors, said the South’s dispute is with the Kim regime, not the North Korean people.

South Korea’s constitution defines all Koreans on the peninsula as equal, and those in the North have the same rights as southerners, and Yoon said Tuesday that the South would welcome defectors from the North.

“The government will not give any attention and support to the defectors to establish themselves well in our society,” Yoon said.

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