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North Korea has in recent weeks agitated border regions with its neighbour, South Korea. The renewed aggression was, the North claimed, a result of hundreds of thousands of anti-Kim Jong-un leaflets being transported into the country from the South by non-governmental activists. Initial backlash came through Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, who branded those responsible “human scum” and called the South “the enemy”.
Then, a telecommunications line set up between Pyongyang and Seoul in 2018, aimed at reducing tensions, was cut; daily calls between the two abandoned.
It culminated in the North blowing up a joint liaison office with the South in the country’s border region, in the city of Kaesong.
Yet, as of yesterday, reported by state media, North Korea announced it would be suspending its plans for “military action” against South Korea.
In a cryptic message, Kim revealed it was a result of his taking the “prevailing situation” into consideration.
Loudspeakers which had only been erected last week – usually intended to blast anti-South propaganda through – were ripped down.
War with the North has only in recent years become a serious issue on the US military’s agenda.
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This is a result of the country’s mass gathering of nuclear and biological weapons in a short period of time.
It has forced the US to devise several protocols and action plans in which war became a reality.
One plot is known as the “decapitation” method.
In his 2018 report, journalist Yochi Dreazen explained how “decapitation strikes are part of the current US and South Korean war plan for a conflict with North Korea”.
Dubbed OPLAN 5015, the war plan explicitly talks about targeting Kim, his inner circle, and other top leadership figures.
The protocol is no secret, since US President Donald Trump leaked plans for a decapitation strike that would target Kim in 2017 – with the North already knowing about it as a result of a successful hacking spree of the South’s military cache in 2016.
In 2017, the Atlantic’s national correspondent and author of Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden, in a piece titled “How to Deal With North Korea”, revealed the extent to which decapitation would be rolled out.
He summarised that the plan looks to remove “Kim and his inner circle, most likely by assassination, and replacing the leadership with a more moderate regime willing to open North Korea to the rest of the world”.
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And, as Mr Bowden explained later on: “Decapitation is almost certainly being considered.
“The US-South Korea war strategy, OPLAN 5015, portions of which have leaked to the South Korean press, calls for strikes targeting the country’s leaders.
“Any US plot would be a breach of long-standing American policy – an executive order bans the assassination of foreign leaders.
“But such an order can be rewritten by whoever presides in the White House.”
This breach may cause initial discord in the White House given the existing policy.
Although the discord may never materialise because for such a plot against Kim to succeed, “it would most likely have to be initiated from inside Kim’s circle,” and this “would be exceedingly difficult, even for a suicidal team of special operators, to get close enough to Kim to kill him, given the closed nature of the North Korean state and the security that surrounds him”.
The aggressions appear to have subsided for now.
But many experts say future hostilities will likely prevail.
Sue Mi Terry, warned that the world should expect more action from the North.
She told the Financial Times she believed more movement would happen later in the year, especially against the US.
She said the attack on the liaison office was merely the “opening salvo”.
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