Ten years ago, former North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il died, marking the beginning of his family’s third-generation of dynastic rule. Since taking the reins, Kim Jong Un has bound his consolidation of power to the achievement of a credible and reliable nuclear deterrent.
On the domestic front, the Party-state’s ruling ideology has shifted from a military-first line to a civilian ‘people-centered’ and Party-centered line. Also, the tendency towards the re-centralization of economic management has become more pronounced amid the anti-pandemic measures that combined with the effects of international sanctions and environmental disasters have taken their toll on North Korea’s already poor humanitarian situation.
As there are no signs of easing restrictions after almost two years of self-imposed isolation, what are the prospects for North Korea's domestic and foreign policy going forward? How could tensions be defused on the Korean Peninsula given that denuclearization seems almost out of reach?