By Robert Potter
The North Korean relationship with the rest of the world appears to be reaching a plateau from which their leader will struggle to escape. The recent rise and decline in tensions between the North and South has essentially been treated as business as usual. The Kaesong Industrial Complex has closed, there are new sanctions incoming and the North has little to show for their efforts. In terms of diplomatic signaling, the messages the North is sending are simply no longer getting through.
If any other state or leader were to behave as Kim Jong Un does, issuing threats and severing communications, it would, perhaps, provoke a rather different response from the international community. In the case of North Korea, it is seen in context of past behavior and often dismissed as rhetoric. At this stage, only B.R. Myers takes North Korea at its word and even he does so by arguing that South Korean silence is based in complacency and not a desire to return to business as usual.
The rise and fall of tensions has played out for so long now that signals that would otherwise be gravely threatening are not contextualized within a broad narrative that robs them of their meaning and importance. The simple evidence of this can be found in the fact that a nuclear test, once a powerful lever by itself, was paired with a missile test. – NK News