Pyongyang's September Surprise

The scene of the ALS ice bucket challenge by CE in August.

The scene of the ALS ice bucket challenge by CE in August.

September looks to be a potentially interesting month in North Korea diplomatic relations, in what has been a relatively quiet year.

Just in case you forgot how quiet it is this year relative to last year, remember that Rodman visits have been replaced by lower-key Inoki wrestling, nuclear tests and the March declaration of war footing have been replaced by short-range rocket launches, and the shuttering of Kaesong Industrial Complex has been replaced by bickering over the sending of North Korean cheerleaders to Seoul. It has been a relatively tranquil year... and no major political figures have been executed yet.

So what surprises are in store for September. The month will be kicked off Kang Sok Ju's visit to Europe next week. He will prime European partners on what might be in store for DPRK's diplomatic direction in the coming months. But the real action kicks in further into the month, with Ri Su Yong heading to New York to address the United Nations. While US relations remain in a rut, Ri Su Yong is likely to extend some opportunities for dialogue with the US.

With South Korea, there will be a squad of visiting North Korean athletes heading to the Asian Games in Incheon. As the Ministry of Unification unveils their agenda for North Korea, which contains surprising details on potential infrastructure investment in the North, the event could provide opportunities for announcing public commitments of cooperation. The key question is whether both sides can find enough common ground as each side maneuvers to engage on their own terms. 

And potentially the biggest upside surprise could be between Tokyo and Pyongyang. September is when North Korea is supposed to unveil the findings of its abduction reinvestigations. This unveiling could make or break the positive progress between the two countries. North Korea's delay of the announcement towards the end of the month could help make September end with a bang.

For all you North Korean news junkies, September could be your month!