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Missiles and macroeconomy mark North Korea’s 2022 troubles

Author: Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations

In 2022, North Korea escalated tensions through intensified missile tests and threats to South Korea. It also maintained a national quarantine that prevented official importation of economic goods, but ultimately failed to prevent COVID-19 from infecting the country.

North Korea is the best ever 90 Various types and ranges of missile tests, including nine intermediate or intercontinental range test launches. Although the number of tests has increased exponentially in 2022 compared to the previous year, the objectives and strategies behind the tests include the military, which was announced at the 8th National Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in January 2021. It included a systematic check of development goals.

North Korea claimed progress toward a number of goals, including testing a missile capable of launching hypersonic glide warheads and tactical nuclear weapons. It undertook the development of “advanced capabilities for conducting preemptive and retaliatory nuclear strikes,” testing missiles with a range of 15,000 kilometers, and ground testing solid-fuel engines for long-range missiles.

Important items remaining on the checklist include the development of nuclear submarines and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the further development of “super-large nuclear warheads,” and the operation of military reconnaissance satellites.

Additional items not explicitly mentioned in Congress, but foreseen in the leadership statement, include the potential for nuclear testing and at-range testing of ICBMs to demonstrate atmospheric re-entry capabilities. will be North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is likely aware that achieving the capabilities outlined in his five-year plan for 2021 is an essential prerequisite for returning to negotiations with the United States. This explains why North Korea’s default stance throughout 2022 was to reject US negotiating offers.

In addition to heightened tensions with the United States, North Korea has been able to conduct missile tests with relative impunity as a result of: Russian invasion of Ukraine The rising tensions between the United States and China are both paralyzing the United Nations Security Council.

North Korea has publicly hinted at increased “strategic and tactical cooperation” with North Korea. Russia When China and have used global tensions as beneficiaries of lazy Chinese Enforcement of UN sanctions by Russiarecognized and endorsed the Russian-backed separatist provinces of Ukraine and expressed support for China in opposition to US policy toward Taiwan.

North Korea has reacted negatively to the March 2022 election of conservative Yoon Seok-yeol as South Korean president. South Korea’s new conservative government’s efforts to strengthen deterrence in response to North Korea’s growing military threat have drawn increasingly critical comments directly from Kim Jong-un’s sister, Kim Yo-jong.

North Korea’s emphasis on first strike as a “poison” designed to deter internal and external threats to the regime’s future in its September 9, 2022 nuclear doctrine codification had two motives. There is a possibility. This was in response to Yoon’s mention of a preemptive strike as part of his defense strategy against North Korea, and may also indicate that he has rejected a US offer to return to denuclearization talks. .

North Korea’s efforts to capitalize on geopolitical divisions and increased missile testing in 2022 have overshadowed domestic public health and economic challenges. After two years of denying cases of COVID-19 and imposing strict quarantines on contact with the outside world, Kim Jong-un publicly admitted that COVID-19 broke North Korea’s quarantine last May. State media blamed North Korean defectors who returned to North Korea from South Korea for the leak, further highlighting the multifaceted danger South Korea poses to North Korea.

The country quickly declared victory over COVID-19 in August, vaccination campaign Immediately after. Regardless of the source or unknown scale of his COVID-19 in North Korea, the economic impact of the quarantine could have been as poor and deadly as the disease itself.

North Korea’s recent tightening of government controls over economic activity and economic contraction during the pandemic continued. The state sold government bonds domestically and imposed restrictions on the use of foreign currency. This was probably to finance the scarce foreign currency.

These policies have almost certainly helped ensure that political loyalty remains a prerequisite for economic opportunity. This is because these policies have made North Korea’s economic interactions dependent on the state and its ties to the Kim family. was guaranteed to be managed by an agency or individual with

In North Korea’s restricted economic environment, the regime’s ability to earn approximately US$1 billion or more through ransomware, cyber theft, and cryptocurrency manipulation remained a wild card.quote from US government The UN Panel of Experts also found that North Korea’s elite hackers have made as much as US$2 billion in profits in recent years through dramatic cyber activities like ransomware and mundane cyber activities like infecting networks. suggests.

North Korea in 2022 took advantage of illegal exchanges and illegal weapons development while using COVID-19 as a tool to strengthen political loyalty. His promises look more distant than ever in 2023.

Scott Snyder is a Senior Fellow in Korean Studies and Director of the U.S.-Korea Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. North Korea’s Foreign Policy: Kim Jong Un’s Regime in a Hostile WorldThese views contained herein are his own and do not represent the views of any institution with which he is affiliated.

This article is part of the EAF Featured Series. Looking back on 2022 And next year.

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