The winds of change in the air as Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, decides to come out of isolation. He is keen to have better bonding with the outside world. It would help remove the tag of “hermit kingdom” attached to his country. He revealed this while addressing a major political conference. It was the first congress of the ruling Workers’ Party in five years, and he chose not to elaborate on the line of action he proposed to pursue to achieve his goal. Observers feel he would send out positive gestures toward Seoul and Washington because he has to tackle economic issues on the home front.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency KCNA quotes Kim mentioning South Korea's relations based on the current situation and the changed scenario.

Los Angeles Times says the congress is the top decision-making body of the Workers’ Party. It is responsible for reviewing past projects, formulate new priorities, and reshuffle top officials. Kim Jong-un convened the latest congress to find out solutions for several burning issues. Most important is its economy. It is in dire straits because of the pandemic-related border closings coupled with natural disasters and the U.S.-led sanctions. In August, Kim Jong-un held a conference on coronavirus and Typhoon Bavi. The leader outlined his comprehensive plans.

On an opening day, he admitted to the failure of his economic developmental plans. He also laid down a new five-year development plan. The next day, he talked about bolstering the military capability of North Korea.

Nuclear diplomacy between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump

Kim Jong-un had hopes of a positive outcome of his nuclear diplomacy with Donald Trump.

Discuss this news on Eunomia

It had gone on for nearly two years but fizzled out because of disputes over U.S.-led sanctions on North Korea. The talks collapsed after their second summit in Vietnam in early 2019. Kim wanted sweeping sanctions relief in return for a limited denuclearization. That was not acceptable to Trump. In October, Kim Jong-un shed tears for his people during a military parade.

Los Angeles Times adds that President-elect Joe Biden would take office on January 20th. He might have different priorities as far as North Korea is concerned. He might not agree to hold any direct meeting with Kim Jong-un unless his country takes serious denuclearization steps.

Kim Jong-un has to modify his strategy

The US imposed sanctions are hurting the economy of North Korea. Kim realizes he has to modify his strategies to restart dialogue. The relation he had with Trump is history, and Kim would have to make a fresh start with Biden. Los Angeles Times adds that Kim Jong-un could make a beginning by wooing South Korea, an ally of the United States. That could be the first step to push for talks with the Biden administration.

Kim is aware that restarting negotiations would mean sacrifices, especially concerning his nuclear arsenal. Incidentally, Kim Jong-un opted for a handwritten letter instead of the televised New Year’s Day address.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un knows the challenge

According to NDTV, Kim Jong-un talked about strengthening the military capabilities of his nuclear-armed nation. That was at an important meeting of the ruling party a few weeks before the inauguration of Joe Biden as US president. However, things have changed. In the opinion of analysts, Pyongyang now wants to send a message across to the incoming administration and is treading cautiously. It is possible the US could opt for a more orthodox diplomatic approach under Biden.

That could mean adequate talks at the working-level before going for any summit between the leaders. North Korea has an arsenal of nuclear weapons developed over a period, and Kim would like to hold on to it. His main agenda would be relief from sanctions, for which he would have to evolve a suitable trade-off formula.