Less than three weeks ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spent a day shaking and holding hands, hugging and listening to Korean pop after sunset.
But it looks as though the honeymoon could be over.
On Wednesday, North Korea postponed talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the summit scheduled with Kim and President Trump on June 12 over joint air force drills taking place in South Korea. North Korea also urged the United States to stop insisting that it should “unilaterally” abandon its nuclear program. The North Korean regime appeared dismayed by U.S. suggestions that a Libya-style solution could work with North Korea. (Libya’s regime was toppled with Western military support after giving up its nuclear weapons program.)
So, why is North Korea suddenly playing tough again after toning down its rhetoric? One answer: Because that’s what it has always done.
Analysts were hardly surprised by Wednesday’s threats, after years of North Korea agreeing to talks and then withdrawing from them. Changing the rhetoric from conciliatory to threatening could also increase the regime’s leeway during the upcoming negotiations. And although Wednesday’s remarks may be unlikely to result in the immediate derailment of denuclearization talks, they do fit a common pattern that has resulted in few concessions over the past few decades.
Here’s a look back at the times the Kim regime followed through on its threats to disrupt talks or ignore agreements.