Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

Increasing Odds of War on Korean Peninsula Could Inspire Internal Action Against Kim Jong Un

◎ Kim Jong Un purging his former top advisor could unsettle his other senior officials.


With North Korea unwilling to abandon its nuclear program and America dropping hints that the military option is on the cards in the event of further provocation, there’s an increased chance of conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula. However, external pressure against Pyongyang could end up triggering internal conflict in North Korea and lead to the downfall of Kim Jong Un.

The big picture:

North Korea

1. Recent commercial satellite imagery shows a high-level of activity at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. This indicates that Kim is not done with nuclear testing.

2. According to a Dec. 12 report by South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, North Korea’s top military commander and General Political Bureau director Hwang Pyong So and his deputy Kim Won Hong are currently being held in a detention center for political prisoners. In late November, South Korean intelligence noted that the two men were punished for “impure behavior.” Hwang was one of Kim’s most trusted advisor, and his detention could lead to a fresh round of purges in North Korea.

Four years ago, Kim ordered the execution of Jang Song Thaek, the former number two figure in the North Korean regime and Kim’s uncle.  

South Korea

1. On Dec. 1, South Korea inaugurated a special military brigade that will seek to “decapitate” North Korea’s war command and secure its weapons of mass destruction in the event of an emergency.

2. When South Korean leader Moon Jae-in was in Beijing from Dec. 13 to Dec. 16, him and Xi Jinping said that they do not wish to see war break out on the Korean Peninsula.

America

1. U.S. and South Korean troops held the massive “Vigilant Ace” joint military exercise from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8.

2. In an interview with The Atlantic that was published on Dec. 14, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said that America has a 30 percent chance of using the military option against North Korea, and a 70 percent chance if North Korea tests another nuclear device.

China

1. Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Yang told Japanese opposition party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi in Beijing on Dec. 1 that China and North Korea are in an antagonistic relationship. Wang stressed that China opposes Pyongyang’s nuclear provocations, but doesn’t wish to see conflict and chaos break out on the Korean Peninsula.

2. On Dec. 6, state newspaper Jilin Daily ran an entire page on nuclear defense knowledge and protection measures.

3. China makes plans to build refugee camps in a county across the North Korean border, according to a Dec. 11 New York Times report.

4. On Dec. 16, hawkish retired general Wang Hongguang said that the Korean Peninsula would be in a state of high risk when America and South Korea hold its annual “Key Resolve/Foal Eagle” military drill in March.

5. Renmin University of China lecturer Shi Yinhong said on Dec. 16 that the probability of war breaking out on the Korean Peninsula is the highest it has ever been in years given the present situation.

U.S.-China

1. Since the Xi-Trump April summit in Florida, the U.S. and China have proceeded to roll out the most stringent-ever sanctions against North Korea. When President Donald Trump visited Beijing in November, both him and Xi expressed their resolve to denuclearize North Korea

Our take: China, America, and North Korea all appear to be preparing for war. While the probability of conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula is quite high, there is room for alternative developments to unfold.

Kim Jong Un purging his former top advisor could unsettle his other senior officials and cause them to move against Kim (perhaps with some prodding from China and South Korea). The nuclear situation could be peacefully defused if Kim suddenly meets with an “accident” and is unable to rule North Korea.  

"I’m a very happy, satisfied subscriber to your service and all the deep information it provides to increase our understanding. SinoInsider is profoundly helping to alter the public landscape when it comes to the PRC."
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Prof. Ming’s information about the Sino-U.S. trade war is invaluable for us in Taiwan’s technology industry. Our company basically acted on Prof. Ming’s predictions and enlarged our scale and enriched our product lines. That allowed us to deal capably with larger orders from China in 2019. ”
Mr. Chiu, Realtek R&D Center
“I am following China’s growing involvement in the Middle East, seeking to gain a better understanding of China itself and the impact of domestic constraints on its foreign policy. I have found SinoInsider quite helpful in expanding my knowledge and enriching my understanding of the issues at stake.”
Ehud Yaari, Lafer International Fellow, The Washington Institute
“SinoInsider’s research on the CCP examines every detail in great depth and is a very valuable reference. Foreign researchers will find SinoInsider’s research helpful in understanding what is really going on with the CCP and China. ”
Baterdene, Researcher, The National Institute for Security Studies (Mongolian)
“The forecasts of Prof. Chu-cheng Ming and the SinoInsider team are an invaluable resource in guiding our news reporting direction and anticipating the next moves of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.”
Chan Miu-ling, Radio Television Hong Kong China Team Deputy Leader
“SinoInsider always publishes interesting and provocative work on Chinese elite politics. It is very worthwhile to follow the work of SinoInsider to get their take on factional struggles in particular.”
Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London
“[SinoInsider has] been very useful in my class on American foreign policy because it contradicts the widely accepted argument that the U.S. should work cooperatively with China. And the whole point of the course is to expose students to conflicting approaches to contemporary major problems.”
Roy Licklider, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
“As a China-based journalist, SinoInsider is to me a very reliable source of information to understand deeply how the CCP works and learn more about the factional struggle and challenges that Xi Jinping may face. ”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“SinoInsider offers an interesting perspective on the Sino-U.S. trade war and North Korea. Their predictions are often accurate, which is definitely very helpful.”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“I have found SinoInsider to provide much greater depth and breadth of coverage with regard to developments in China. The subtlety of the descriptions of China's policy/political processes is absent from traditional media channels.”
John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Kissinger Center for Global Affairs
“My teaching at Cambridge and policy analysis for the UK audience have been informed by insights from your analyzes. ”
Dr Kun-Chin Lin, University Lecturer in Politics,
Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University
" SinoInsider's in-depth and nuanced analysis of Party dynamics is an excellent template to train future Sinologists with a clear understanding that what happens in the Party matters."
Stephen Nagy, Senior Associate Professor, International Christian University
“ I find Sinoinsider particularly helpful in instructing students about the complexities of Chinese politics and what elite competition means for the future of the US-China relationship.”
Howard Sanborn, Professor, Virginia Military Institute
“SinoInsider has been one of my most useful (and enjoyable) resources”
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Professor Ming and his team’s analyses of current affairs are very far-sighted and directionally accurate. In the present media environment where it is harder to distinguish between real and fake information, SinoInsider’s professional perspectives are much needed to make sense of a perilous and unpredictable world. ”
Liu Cheng-chuan, Professor Emeritus, National Chiayi University
Previous
Next