North Korean Leader Declares Two Koreas as ‘Hostile Nations at War’

SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent declaration that North and South Korea are "two hostile countries in a state of war" is raising concerns over potential nuclear threats against the South. This statement was made during the conclusion of a five-day plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) on Saturday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Kim Jong-un announced a significant shift in North Korea's stance towards South Korea, stating that relations between the two nations have transformed from being of the same people to those of two hostile countries. He emphasized that South Korea should no longer be considered a counterpart for reconciliation and unification. Experts interpret Kim's remarks as an indication that North Korea's threats to use tactical nuclear weapons against the South could transition from rhetoric to reality, as Pyongyang now views the South as an adversary.

Senior research fellow Hong Min at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU) explained that if North Korea perceives the relationship with South Korea as that of the same people, using nuclear arms against it would be contradictory. However, by redefining inter-Korean ties as a state-to-state relationship, North Korea can justify its advancement of nuclear and missile programs targeted against the South.

This year, North Korea started using South Korea's official name, the Republic of Korea (ROK), in its statements, a shift from its previous references to the South as "south Korea" or "the south Korean puppet." This change in terminology was first noted in July when Kim Yo-jong, sister of the North's leader, used "ROK" while condemning U.S. surveillance activities. South Korea's unification ministry interpreted this as mockery rather than a genuine acknowledgment of state-to-state relations.

The 1991 inter-Korean basic agreement designated the relationship between the two Koreas as a "special relationship" in the pursuit of reunification, not as state-to-state relations. Despite this, at the recent WPK meeting, Kim Jong-un announced a new approach to handling Seoul, viewing the relationship as one between "two countries in a state of war."

Furthermore, Kim called for the overhaul of North Korean organizations involved in inter-Korean affairs and indicated a shift from the federation system for unification, a long-held North Korean ideology. The National Intelligence Service of South Korea has warned of possible military provocations by North Korea in the coming year, especially ahead of South Korea's parliamentary and the U.S. presidential elections.

scroll to top