It’s quite true that the North Korea is secretive to the extreme. However, the countries unusual ways are tied directly to certain goals. Unchallenged domination of current US ally South Korea tops Pyongyang’s wish list.

The first step is to persuade Trump to withdraw US troops and sign a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War.

Optimists have popped up with considerable frequency since the 1970’s in the United States, South Korea and elsewhere to predict big changes in Pyongyang’s ways and, particularly, its goals.

Sooner or later, they have always been proven wrong. There is not now and there never will be a kinder, gentler North Korea ruled by the Kim family.

With that in mind, it is as clear as day that Kim Jong Un considers 2020 his year to remove American constraints on his power. And that’s the meaning of the end-of-the-year, fish-or-cut-bait deadline he delivered months ago to Donald Trump.

But the main reason Kim chose the end of 2019 for his deadline is, simply put, that he reads Trump. He knows that once the election campaign year has begun the US president and chief Artist of The Deal.

This will be more amenable than ever to giving up the store, in the hope a bad deal can be passed off as good to enough voters for him to get re-elected.

Pyongyang will have only the one reelection year, with its maximum opportunity to entrap Trump – unless the highly self-regarding president wins reelection and then figures a way to realize his dream of abolishing the two-term limit on presidents.

Trump’s and Kim’s denuclearization “process,” such as it was, pretty much halted when a second summit early this year in Hanoi collapsed.

This month North Korea issued a reminder of Kim’s deadline, saying with a Scrooge-like flourish that there’d be a “Christmas gift” if Washington should fail to make appropriate concessions in time.

When the president says, ‘Well, I’m not worried about short-range missiles,’ he’s saying, ‘I’m not worried about the potential risk to American troops deployed in the region or the treaty allies, South Korea and Japan.

Asia Times / ABC Flash Point News 2019.

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