As harsh sanctions by the international community continue to bear down on North Korea, a top commander of U.S. troops in the region has suggested that the regime is no doubt feeling the pressure.
General Vincent K. Brooks, the commander of U.S. Forces on the Korean Peninsula, said recently that the state has been steadily decreasing its military exercises — and increasing its executions.
“We’re seeing some increase in executions, mostly against political officers who are in military units, for corruption,” Brooks told The Wall Street Journal.
The general also described the executions as the regime’s attempt to “clamp down as much as possible on something that might be deteriorating and keeping it from deteriorating too quickly.”
Brooks added that numerous defections, such as the one that happened last month when a North Korean soldier successfully crossed into South Korea, are becoming more common in areas not generally seen.
This includes defections where people cross through the risky and heavily guarded demilitarized zone, which separates North and South Korea.
Aside from the rising number of executions, the regime has dialed down on certain military exercises, which Brooks believes is due to increased sanctions leveled against the state and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
Due to hostilities from the rogue state, the United Nations recently placed major restrictions on the trade of oil and refined petroleum products to North Korea, which is affecting the regime in various ways and causing analysts to conclude the country is attempting to conserve fuel.
American officials have suggested that the result of those restrictions is a decrease in the regime’s normal winter exercises, which typically run from December to March, according to Newsweek.
However, that does not mean North Korea’s military capabilities have been weakened, but rather, analysts believe it is making covert trade deals in an attempt to sidestep those harsh sanctions.
Some reports claim that China has been involved in these deals, though Beijing has maintained its innocence.
Though North Korea conducted numerous missile tests throughout 2017 as part of a plan to develop its nuclear weapons, the new year has brought some surprising moves from the regime.
For the first time in two years, North Korea seemed to slightly change its disposition and has begun opening up talks with South Korea — though it is still adamant about its nuclear ambitions.
Despite the lingering tensions, the regime plans to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics, which are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
However, on Monday, North Korea abruptly canceled a cultural event it was supposed to participate in with South Korea in the final days leading up to the games.
The decision was reportedly due to the North’s reaction against what it believes is biased media coverage.
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