June 07, 2013 09:41
North Korea's surprise offer on Thursday to hold talks with South Korea has prompted speculation whether the power of the hardline North Korean military is on the wane.
The agency that proposed the talks was not the military but the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which is a Workers Party body. The committee in principle handles inter-Korean relations, but instead the military has mostly muscled in on its turf, bolstered by former leader Kim Jong-il's "military-first" doctrine.
Having mostly aggravated relations, it was the military that decided to shut down the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex earlier this year. But there has been a raft of reshuffles at the top of the military recently as North Korea’s belligerent tactics backfired and led to further sanctions.
There were apparently concerns among North Korean officials that the hardline stance pursued by the military, which included a fresh nuclear test and the launch of a space rocket, has made it even tougher to get concessions from the U.S. and angered China, on which the North depends for almost all necessities.
This has led to increasing distrust of top brass and weakened their clout, pundits say.
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