New Focus International claims that loyalty to Kim Jong-un is beginning to slide radically among Korean Workers Party members to the point where the regime is encountering difficulties in ramming through the current post JST purge. Wider public disaffection also appears to be growing, the report says, but in a passive way.
Meanwhile Andrei Lankov notes that joint ROK-US military maneuvers are scheduled for later this month and that the South Korean government has promised that if the North responds with a military provocation of its own, the counter-response will be much more aggressive than on past occasions.
It occurs to me that if Seoul is really prepared to take the risk that the North won’t escalate into a full ‘sea of fire’ scenario, it may have come to the conclusion that the Kim regime is more fragile than previously thought.
And the PLA is still conducting crisis drills near the North Korean border. A couple of years back, the main worry about Korean conflict was that it would suck in China and the US on different sides. There’s no evidence of any co-ordination here, but there does seem to be a feeling by shared by all parties that now is a good time to put Pyongyang under greater pressure.