Unexpected scenario in North Korea after the arrest of an American

Seoul, Jul 19 (BLAZETRENDS).- The arrest of a US soldier by North Korea after he crossed the divide by surprise, opens the door for the regime to interact again with the outside world in a moment in which the country still displays a paranoid attitude towards the covid and keeps its borders tightly sealed.

The event, which occurred on Tuesday, has led various analysts to reflect on Pyongyang’s possible response at a time marked by the high tensions of the last two years, which in the last week have also brought new episodes.

They range from launches of North Korean missiles, including a solid fuel missile with an intercontinental range, to the arrival of a US nuclear-armed submarine in South Korea for the first time in 40 years.

Experts debate whether the regime could use this American private as a token to negotiate any concessions with Washington or whether it would instead opt for a goodwill gesture by returning him to his country immediately, something that could open the door to a dialogue. that has been on the siding since 2019.

The “excuse” of covid-19

“Could Washington send a high representative to free the soldier, like what happened when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea in 2018 to pick up three imprisoned Americans or like when former President Bill Clinton went to Pyongyang to bring two journalists from a Californian station back home?” some are already wondering.

However, the first unknown to be cleared up is whether the North Korean regime, which has kept its policy of closing the country to the outside intact since the beginning of 2020, plans to take this opportunity to start looking outside.

To get an idea of ​​the lengths to which Pyongyang has gone to shield itself from the entry of covid-19 (a measure that many experts believe has also been implemented to further isolate the population and reinforce control than the regime maintains on it), it should be remembered that until yesterday there was only evidence that two people have been able to access North Korea in the last three years.

They are a North Korean defector who returned to his country from the South by swimming across the Han and Imjin river delta and the Chinese ambassador to North Korea, Wang Yajun, who arrived in the North Korean capital in April after spending several days in strict quarantine at a facility next to the border city of Sinuiji.

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Neither North Korean workers nor diplomats abroad have been able to return to their country since the beginning of 2020 due to the state of anti-viral paranoia in which the place where they were born still lives.

  A foreign tourist walks past a sign at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Imjingak Park near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea.
A foreign tourist walks past a sign at the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Imjingak Park near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea. BLAZETRENDS/EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

The Demilitarized Zone

Studies using satellite photos have shown that the regime (which in the summer of 2020 issued an order to shoot anyone who approaches the borders) has greatly strengthened the fencing around the dividing lines with China and Russia, reaching double it in many areas, and multiplied the guard posts in these regions.

However, there is a border point where the North Korean authorities cannot make changes of any kind: the Joint Security Zone (JSA), the place through which the soldier, identified as Travis T. King, 23, crossed yesterday .

It is an area located in the heart of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas and is the only point where soldiers from both countries see each other. Or they looked, rather.

an unexpected scenario

After the outbreak of the pandemic, North Korea began to gradually reduce the activity of its military in the JSA, to the point that its presence today is invisible there.

A Swedish tourist who was on a guided tour with King yesterday that the soldier took advantage of to cross into North Korea corroborated this by writing on his Facebook page: “There were no North Koreans in sight, not even the guards along the famous line on the other side”.

In this way, and after remaining for more than three years as a nation completely impervious to the outside, North Korea now finds itself in a totally unexpected scenario.

It would not be surprising if King, like any North Korean military personnel who have come into contact with him, is currently under strict quarantine while authorities deliberate how to proceed from here.

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