Here we are, almost at the end of the US-ROK joint military exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), and the situation is eerily calm. DPRK commentary at the start of the exercise last week was relatively restrained, especially in view of the warnings the North had issued over the preceding months. Meanwhile, North Korean reaction to numerous recent ROK offers to reengage has been of the kicking-the-tires variety. So, is it safe to ask: Are we out of the woods? Have we successfully tiptoed past Vesuvius?

For once, we appear to have stumbled into a charmed glen of rationality. Well, maybe that’s an overstatement, but we can work with the image for now. So far, signs that things are heading in the right direction come not so much from something the North Koreans have said, but from the sounds of silence. Indeed, one of the hardest things to teach new analysts is how to listen for what isn’t said, and then figure out what it means. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog