Kim Jong Un calls South Korea as primary foe; escalating tensions

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un calls for constitutional changes designating South Korea as the “primary foe,” escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In a significant development, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for constitutional changes that would designate South Korea as the “primary foe,” as reported by state media KCNA on Tuesday. Speaking at the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s parliament, Kim expressed the belief that unification with the South was no longer feasible. He accused Seoul of pursuing regime collapse and unification through absorption, leading him to advocate for a constitutional amendment to educate North Koreans that South Korea is the “primary foe and invariable principal enemy.”

Kim’s stance was accompanied by a warning that North Korea does not seek war but has no intention of avoiding it either. The leader emphasized the need for planning to occupy, subjugate, and reclaim South Korea in the event of a war, calling for a drastic shift in language by no longer referring to South Koreans as fellow countrymen. Additionally, Kim urged the severing of all inter-Korean communication and the destruction of a reunification monument in Pyongyang.

State media indicated that three organizations handling unification and inter-Korean tourism would be shut down. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, in response, criticized Pyongyang’s characterization of the South as a hostile country, denouncing it as “anti-national.”

These calls for constitutional amendments and policy changes come amid heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula, marked by North Korea’s recent missile tests and a shift in its approach toward the South. Analysts suggest that North Korea’s foreign ministry could assume control of relations with Seoul, potentially justifying the use of nuclear weapons against the South in a future conflict.

Ruediger Frank, a professor at the University of Vienna, noted that Kim’s proposals could trigger significant changes in inter-Korean relations and regional dynamics. In a report for the U.S.-based 38 North project, Frank suggested that this move opens the door to regular interstate relations, including diplomatic normalization and potential conflict.

As the Korean Peninsula faces increased uncertainty, Kim’s calls for constitutional changes and strategic shifts underscore a volatile geopolitical landscape, with implications for both inter-Korean relations and the wider region. As North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un announces significant constitutional changes, labelling South Korea as the “primary foe,” tensions in the Korean Peninsula reach a critical juncture, emphasizing the need for careful diplomatic navigation to address the evolving dynamics and maintain regional stability.