North Korea: Kim Jong-un 'suspends military action' against South
Kim Jong-un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in in better days
North Korea has suspended plans for "military action" against South Korea, according to state media.
There has been a growing rage of angry rhetoric from the north over the past few weeks about activists' plans to send leaflets with anti-North Korean messages across the border.
Last week the north blew up the joint liaison office and also threatened to send troops to the border area.
However, at a meeting chaired by Kim Jong-un, the state media said the decision was made to suspend the military action.
The Central Military Commission made its decision taking into account the so-called "prevailing situation".
The north also began to dismantle speakers it had set up just last week that were traditionally used to spread anti-South Korean messages across the border, Yonhap reported.
It is a remarkable de-escalation of rhetoric after Mr. Kim's sister, Kim Yo-jong, has ordered the army to "take decisive action". - Partly because Pyongyang said Seoul's failure to prevent activists from floating balloons with regime-dependent leaflets across the border.
Balloons and speakers increase tensions at the Korean border
Why did North Korea destroy the liaison office?
Kim Yo-jong: North Korea's legacy evident?
The meeting also discussed documents outlining measures to "further strengthen the country's war deterrence," the state news agency KCNA reported.
Good cop, bad cop
Analysis box by Laura Bicker, Seoul correspondent
It looked like the script was written. North Korea's brinkmanship policy was back.
The blowing up of the liaison office was only the first phase that Pyongyang informed us of. The North Korean leader's sister, Kim Yo-Jong, had instructed the army to work out a plan.
But for those who looked closely, there was always an out clause.
When the North Korean army announced its military plans, the statement mentioned that they had to be approved by the Central Military Commission.
In other words, Kim Jong-un has the final say.
Why did he choose to retire?
Some analysts have raised the possibility that Mr. Kim could pretend to be a good cop to his sister's bad cop before future talks. Remember that military action plans have been suspended and not canceled, so they are still possible.
The escalation of tensions has certainly given Kim Yo-jong a strong platform to demonstrate her leadership skills, but we still know who is ultimately responsible.
Kim Jong-un can now play the role of a magnanimous leader who is ready to defuse the situation. It can play well domestically.
All I can say at this point is that the Korean Peninsula will never get bored, and at least for the time being, President Moon's government will breathe a sigh of relief in Seoul.
Why have tensions escalated lately?
Tensions between North and South Korea seemed to improve when the heads of state and government of both countries met at the border for the first time in 2018.
At the historic summit, both sides committed to free the Korean peninsula from nuclear weapons - and efforts were made in the months that followed to improve relations and maintain dialogue.
Police rescue a balloon after it fell into a river on the South Korean side
After a failed summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump, the relationship was on a downward spiral.
Relations have deteriorated particularly rapidly in recent weeks - prompted by defector groups in the south who sent propaganda across the border.
South Korean activists usually send balloons with items such as leaflets, USB sticks or DVDs criticizing the Pyongyang regime, as well as South Korean news reports or even Korean dramas.
All of this aims to break the North's control over domestic information, in the hope that people may eventually overthrow the regime from within.
The South Korean government has already tried to prevent groups from sending leaflets across the border, arguing that their actions are endangering residents near the border.
The move prompted North Korea to threaten military measures again - and shortly afterwards it blew up a joint liaison office that it had established with the south in 2018.
However, it is unclear what exactly caused North Korea to escalate the situation.
"I very much doubt that it is the leaflets that actually motivated Pyongyang to do so," Fyodor Tertitskiy of the Kookmin University in Seoul told the BBC earlier.
"It is much more likely that they will only use this incident as an excuse to initiate an escalation. The real reason is that they believe that the south has not made any real concessions since the talks."
After North Korea started talks in 2018, Pyongyang had hoped the dialogue could lead to a noticeable easing of sanctions and increased economic cooperation with the South.
Pyongyang's expectation had been the start of some inter-Korean projects, such as enabling tourism in the Kumgang Mountains, an idea mentioned in a joint statement by both sides.
None of this has happened, mainly because Washington insisted that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before sanctions can be discussed.
Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un said he was ending the suspension of the nuclear and long-range missile tests that were conducted during talks with the United States.
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