This move should be understood in the context of DPRK’s strained relations with the United States.
In a special twist last week, North Korea – officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) – announced that they were severed its diplomatic relations to Malaysia, after Malaysia’s highest court passed extradition of a North Korean businessman, Mun Chol Myong, came to the United States to face charges of money laundering. Mun is wanted for money laundering in violation of United Nations and US sanctions. The Malaysian government expelled North Korean diplomats and severed diplomatic relations fit with Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
Even before this latest episode, Malaysia’s relations with North Korea have become frozen, due the assassination of Kim Jong NamNorth Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong Un’s estranged brother, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017. Malaysia suspects North Korea had a role in the assassination and then suspends its diplomatic mission. North Korea.
Before that, relations between Malaysia and North Korea were relatively peaceful. Malaysia serves as one of the important hubs of economic participation in Southeast Asia, from which North Korea conducts trade with the region and serves as a pathway to engage the region through the Association. Southeast Asian countries (ASEAN). North Korea is also a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), an overarching multilateral security platform.
Indeed, the DPRK’s relations with Malaysia are mostly present serve North Korea’s strategic interests during the 48 years of bilateral relations between the two countries. The US and South Korea have used this geopolitical relationship to liaise with North Korea on security issues and indirect humanitarian aid through Malaysia and on the sidelines of ARF meetings. South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP), which aims to closer geo-economic cooperation with ASEAN, also serves as a discreet pathway to the DPRK, in the hope that ASEAN will play a role. as an informal strategic bridge connecting North Korea.
So why did North Korea then decide to sever diplomatic ties with a key country despite being a cautious strategic player in Southeast Asia?
The main reason lies in being further away from Southeast Asia and closer to North Korea itself. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken of the Biden administration in his first time trip abroad (along with Pentagon Director Lloyd Austin) visited Japan on 15 March and Korea on March 18 to rally support against North Korea and China armed with nuclear weapons. In response to the visits, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, warned the US by clarify, “If he wants to sleep quietly for the next four years, then he better refrain from causing a bad smell in its first step.”
It is no coincidence that North Korea severed diplomatic relations with Malaysia the day after Blinken’s visit to Seoul. North Korea accused Malaysia of cooperating with the US to extradite businessman Mun Chol Myong and vowed to retaliate against Malaysia. This is a subtle signal aimed at Washington, while warning that North Korea is ready to respond to other US actions against interests it perceives by intimidating America’s security partners.
This is true even though the move has no nominal strategic significance, as North Korea needs Malaysia’s geopolitical access and the ability to access the ARF to advance its own interests, and now the country will lose any residual recognition they enjoy in the area.
The plausible strategic logic behind North Korea’s latest action lies in the assumption of its nuclear weapons strategy, that Its leaders think and act irrationally. The main assumption of nuclear deterrence The strategy is quite the opposite: leaders think and act sensibly in relation to the use of nuclear weapons and will avoid using them first as the consequences of an enemy counterattack will have ruined results. dire. This logical logic prevents any nuclear state from carrying out nuclear attacks. On the other hand, North Korea’s irrational behavior is seen as a strong signal to other powers that nuclear deterrence strategic thinking is often thought to be unlikely to apply in the case of North Korea.