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Recent NK provocation aims to solidify Kim Yo-jong's status as No. 2: lawmaker

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

North Korea's recent detonation of an inter-Korean liaison office may aim to consolidate its economically struggling citizens under the emerging leadership of Kim Yo-jong as the country's No. 2 leader, a former North Korean diplomat-turned-South Korean lawmaker said Wednesday.

"So far, there hasn't been a third person between the North Korean military and (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un, but there's Kim Yo-jong now," Rep. Tae Young-ho of the main opposition United Future Party said on a Facebook post.

"(With the latest detonation) North Korea intends to shed light on a new command system where the entire North Korea starts up upon a single word from Kim Yo-jong," the lawmaker said.

Tae defected to South Korea in 2016 while serving as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain. He won a parliamentary seat on a proportional representation seat in the April general elections.

On Tuesday, North Korea blew up the inter-Korean liaison office building in its border town of Kaesong, which was built in 2018 amid improving inter-Korean relations.

The surprise provocation came only three days after Kim Yo-jong warned that the South will soon see "a tragic scene of the useless North-South joint liaison office completely collapsed."

Tae said he has never seen the North Korean military carry out an action plan in such a prompt manner, adding that the North, through the chain of action, "aims to consolidate the country internally under Kim Yo-jong as the (next) successor in line."

Tae specified that the North Korean regime tries to display the leadership of Kim Yo-jong as an established, charismatic No. 2 standing next to Kim Jong-un. 

"The Kim siblings may be intending to carve out an image of Kim Yo-jong as a leader who is female but powerful," he said.

The lawmaker also noted that, with the latest action by North Korea, the Panmunjom Declaration jointly adopted by Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in in 2018 and a subsequent inter-Korean tension reduction agreement have practically lost their effect. He also argued that Seoul should file a compensation suit against the North over the demolition under international law and refer it to the United Nations Security Council for possible condemnation.

Tae's assessment came after the powerful younger sister has been seen spearheading North Korea's recent virulent rhetoric against South Korea, which includes a threat to take "the next action" involving the military last week against the South. (Yonhap)
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