Hwang Pyong So must be feeling pretty good about himself right now. At the latest Supreme People’s Assembly meeting, he was made vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. This was after his promotion to director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, making him the top political officer in the military. In a country where there is supposed to be no No. 2 official, he is called the second-most powerful figure.
Now he has crossed the border into South Korea on a one-day, short-notice trip, triggering hopes of reconciliation between the arch-rival republics—and heightening speculation about the fate of Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s young supremo, who has not been seen in public since September 3.
“In the new phase of our century-long anti-U.S. struggle, we do not hide that various satellites, long-range rockets that we will continue to launch and high-level nuclear test we will conduct will target our sworn enemy, the United States,” the North’s National Defense Commission said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
A series of signs and analyses also point to an imminent third nuclear test. Continue reading