June 9 (UPI) — South Korea said Pyongyang could be shifting its focus from military activity to “internal affairs,” as the Kim Jong Un regime prepares to hold a plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee.
South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook suggested Wednesday in remarks before the parliamentary National Defense Committee that no unusual military developments are occurring in the North, Yonhap reported.
“We are aware that [Pyongyang] is focusing on internal affairs, rather than on [any special military movements],” Suh said, according to the report.
In May, North Korea condemned the end of a U.S.-South Korea agreement to limit Seoul’s missile development. The statement raised concerns about possible North Korean provocations.
Seoul’s defense chief said he is monitoring the situation closely.
“From our point of view, we always prepare for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
Suh also said the end of U.S. guidelines on South Korean missiles has afforded Seoul an “opportunity to sufficiently secure missile sovereignty for the future,” and that South Korean missiles were more advanced than the North’s.
The defense minister addressed North Korea after Kim Jong Un ordered senior officials to make “devoted efforts” to improve the economy. Suh also said North Korea’s decision to hold a third plenary session of the Workers’ Party Central Committee is “unprecedented.”
Kim has stressed the importance of North Korean self-reliance in economic development. Pyongyang has rejected South Korean assistance and has refused to return to the negotiating table.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary of the destruction of the inter-Korean liaison office in Kaesong, the South could be reaching an impasse.
Dong-A Ilbo reported Wednesday that the South has been calling the North on an inter-Korean hotline every day at 9 a.m. since the incident at Kaesong, but the North never picked up the phone.
North Korea may have suspended the hotline after the demolition in Kaesong, according to the report.