Kim Jong-il paid a visit to Russia this week to discuss and rejoin the 6-party talks over nuclear disarmament--with the intent of ending its nuclear standoff.
Russia had long been an ally of North Korea until the fall of the Soviet Union, after which North Korea turned to China for help. The Russian President Medvedev and Kim Jong-il also discussed the possibility of a natural gas pipeline funneling from Russia to South Korea. North Korea could stand to earn up to 100 million dollars each year from this venture, which would greatly help the ailing nation.
Seemingly, these recent talks and reduced aggression are moves to show that North Korea is still a powerful and great nation in the eyes of its people. These events happen just prior to the 100th birthday of its founder, Kim Il-sung, and in the midst of a power shift.
In addition to Russian and North Korean diplomats, the US and South Korea have been discussing when all parties involved will be able to return to nuclear dialogues. The 6-party talks also include Japan and China.
This news isn't met without skepticism, however, and justifiably so. What exactly are North Korea's intentions these days? Is this a momentary change of heart to generate some sympathy and aid? Or are there deeper internal struggles within the country that necessitate these recent changes?
How do you feel about North Korea and their recent cool-down in behavior? I'd like to hear your thoughts.