Nuclear-armed North Korea wants good relations with the United States but could consider a change of approach if Washington maintains its sanctions, leader Kim Jong Un warned in his New Year speech Tuesday after 12 months of diplomatic rapprochement.
Kim's speech comes after year of unprecedented summitry, including the historic summit with Trump and three meetings with Moon and two with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and provided a rare glimpse into the general direction of the reclusive country's policy in the months to come.
The North Korean leader is also indirectly demanding his neighbors to the South push the U.S. and U.N Security Council harder to lift sanctions in exchange for the two countries to resume inter-Korean cooperative projects, Cheong said.
The Trump administration has maintained it will not give ground on sanctions until North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons, but Pyongyang has called upon the USA to alleviate sanctions following moves by Pyongyang to dismantle part of its nuclear program.
After a flurry of diplomatic activity, in April Kim Jong-un met South Korean President Moon Jae-in for a summit at the inter-Korean border. Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has said the meeting could take place in January or February. "Kim sent an "olive branch" to Trump", said Dr Lee Seong-hyon of the Sejong Institute think-tank.
Interested in North Korea?It also agreed to dismantle a satellite launch facility and destroyed the tunnels at its former nuclear weapons test site.
But while Kim Jong Un says he wants to continue along the diplomatic path, the clear hint is that without some response from the United States, the rapprochement witnessed a year ago may go into reverse.
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Culminating in late 2017, the North has carried out 6 atomic blasts and launched rockets capable of reaching the entire U.S. mainland, but has now carried out no such tests for more than a year.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned Washington not to test Pyongyang's patience with sanctions and pressure.
Kim said that North Korea had already pledged not to make, use or spread nuclear weapons and had taken concrete steps to implement this.
This year, Kim said inter-Korean relations have entered a "completely new phase", and offered to resume key inter-Korean economic projects banned under worldwide and South Korean sanctions, without conditions.
"We are willing to resume the Kaesong industrial complex and tour program to Kumgangsan without any preconditions or price, in consideration of South Korean businessmen who once worked at the complex and their hard situation, along with the hopes of our South Korean comrades who seek to visit our people's famous mountain", Kim said in his speech.
Although the North did not conduct nuclear or missile tests past year, satellite images and leaked information from intelligence officials have pointed to ongoing activity at facilities in the secretive country.
Kim has warned Washington not to test North Koreans' patience with sanctions and pressure.
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The North has also bristled at US demands to provide a detailed account of nuclear and missile facilities that would be inspected and dismantled under a potential deal.
He also said the US and South Korea should no longer carry out joint military exercises - which have been largely halted since the Singapore meeting - calling such drills "a source of tension".
President Trump and Kim Jong Un met in June for a much-ballyhooed summit aimed at achieving a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Kim also warned the U.S.in his remarks that if there was not more progress on the USA side, that North Korea may have to "seek another way".
Joshua Pollack of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies tweeted that Kim was insisting "the onus is now on the U.S. to deliver".
As for Japan, it remains unclear if Kim is truly open to a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, though he hinted past year at the possibility "at an appropriate time", according to South Korea's Moon.
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He remains the company's chairman, and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, remains one of its biggest creditors. Bank representatives either had no immediate comment or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.