Kim Jong Un is back on his white horse, as North Korea flags a big decision

THE WASHINGTON POST:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back on his white horse, inspecting “revolutionary battle sites” in knee-high virgin snow on a sacred mountain, state media announced Wednesday, as Pyongyang foreshadowed a major policy decision later this month.

The images of Kim on horseback, returning to Mount Paektu after a similar visit in October, were high on symbolism. But it was a second, more dryly worded announcement on Wednesday that was at least as significant.

The Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea decided to convene the fifth plenary meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in the latter part of December, the Korean Central News Agency said, “to discuss and decide on crucial issues in line with the needs of the development of the Korean revolution and the changed situation at home and abroad.”

Put simply, after giving the United States until the end of the year to change its approach to denuclearization talks and warning that North Korea would follow a “new path,” Kim appears to have made his decision on what that path should be, experts said.

Kim announced a halt to nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests in April 2018 as North Korea and the United States pursued diplomacy. But his regime warned last month there was no reason to stick to previous commitments, saying Pyongyang felt “betrayed” by a U.S. decision to continue with joint air drills with South Korea. Although the United States later postponed the drill, the bellicose North Korean rhetoric has continued.

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