North Korea said Wednesday that Kim Jong Un suspended a planned military retaliation against South Korea, in an apparent slowing of the pressure campaign it has waged against its rival amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration. Last week, the North had declared relations with the South as fully ruptured, destroyed an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory, and threatened unspecified military action to censure Seoul for a lack of progress in bilateral cooperation and for activists floating anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border. Analysts say North Korea, after weeks of deliberately raising tensions, may be pulling away just enough to make room for South Korean concessions, the AP reports. The BBC reports that prior to pulling back, North Korea had threatened to send troops to the border.
If Kim does eventually opt for military action, he may resume artillery drills and other exercises in frontline areas or have vessels deliberately cross the disputed western maritime border between the Koreas, which has been the scene of bloody skirmishes in past years. However, any action is likely to be measured to prevent full-scale retaliation from the South Korean and US militaries. Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim presided by video conference over a meeting Tuesday of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, which decided to postpone plans for military action against the South brought up by the North’s military leaders. KCNA didn’t specify why the decision was made. It said other discussions included bolstering the country’s “war deterrent.” (Click for more on what this could mean.)