Friday, April 15, 2016

The North Korean wind and South Korean elections

On Monday morning, an exclusive Yonhap report said that a high-ranking officer from the North Korean Reconnaissance General Bureau had defected to the South. The Ministry of National Defense press briefing that day was greeted with sharp questions from journalists about the timing of the announcement.

The MND spokesperson denied that the the elections had motivated the announcement, even though such confirmations are atypical.

The spokesperson's denial did not end the speculation, nor the flow news about North Korean defections ahead of the election. On Tuesday, just one day before the ballots were to be cast, the MND announced that the defection of a high-ranking North Korean intelligence officer had taken place last year, confirming a long-standing rumor.

But breaking news involving the North has a long history in South Korea – and not all such news holds up under scrutiny. It is typically invoked by a conservative government to demonstrate the threat the North represents, and in such cases – as opposed to cases involving a North Korean provocation taking place independent of Seoul's plans – this is frequently referred to as bukpung ("the Northern wind").

No comments: