North Korea has been ramping up tensions with South Korea in recent weeks, but the campaign seems aimed at making a renewed push for sanctions relief by recapturing the attention of a U.S. administration that is distracted by domestic issues.
North Korea blew up a joint liaison office on its side of the border last week, declared an end to dialogue with South Korea and threatened military action.
After three historic meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un failed to lead to a denuclearisation deal, U.S. President Donald Trump’s attention is fixed elsewhere, including the coronavirus epidemic, anti-racism protests and the November presidential election.
Kim, however, is facing real-world consequences for the failed talks, with North Korea’s sanctions-hit economy further strained by a border lockdown imposed to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, potentially threatening his support base among the elites and military.
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