The West should be wary of optimistic assumptions that Kim is reconsidering his approach, or even that he is growing desperate
On February 25, 2021, Markus Garlauskas published an op-ed in Asia Times, “Kim Jong Un says ‘sorry, not sorry'” in which he argues that the North Korean leader’s apology in his recent speeches for policy failures in light of the country’s hardship should not be taken at face value. He cautions that rather than taking the leaders’ rhetoric as an indication of a possible policy shift or desperation, analysts should be aware of the tactical motivations behind such use of apologies before the North Korean public.
To put it into terms an American president might use, Kim has been telling North Koreans: “I feel your pain. We’re all in this together. Hang in there.”
To put it into more blunt terms, Kim has been saying: “Sorry, not sorry.”