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N. Korea Restores Guard Posts At Border, S. Korea Reshuffles Spy Agency Leadership


South Korean Defence Ministry reported that the North has started moving troops and rebuilding military infrastructure at the inter-Korean border after the 2018 bilateral tension-reduction pact effectively collapsed on the back of Pyongyang's successful launch of a spy satellite last week.

  • Photographic evidence released by South Korea showed North Korean troops setting up guard posts and transporting heavy weapons to the inter-Korean border. Yonhap News Agency cited a Defence Ministry official as noting that "the North is expected to restore all of them [i.e. guard posts] as they are essential facilities for surveillance".
  • As inter-Korean tensions keep simmering, President Yoon Suk-yeol reshuffled the leadership of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), with the position of the Director of the spy agency left vacant for the time being. The new NIS chief will need to go through a parliamentary confirmation hearing before taking office.
  • The Korea Herald reported that Yoon may follow up with a shake-up of the presidential office and the Cabinet, which may result in the replacement of more than half of his ministers in the course of the next month. Some of them are reportedly looking to run in the upcoming parliamentary election and must give up their Cabinet seats by January 11 in order to be eligible.
  • The looming South Korean general election increases the political salience of the perceived military threat from the North, which may incentivise Pyongyang to use military escalations to disrupt the election process.

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