There were nearly a dozen explosions heard recently along the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula, but it wasn’t a sign of the Korean War heating up again. The North Koreans reportedly dynamited ten of their own guard towers in advance of a previously agreed deadline for bringing down the structures. (ABC News)

North Korea blew up 10 of its guard posts within one kilometer radius of the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas on Tuesday in accordance with agreements made with South Korea earlier this year.

The explosions were carried out simultaneously within a four minute time frame after the North notified the South of the project, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

North Korean soldiers have been destroying the brick structures over the past couple of weeks. Analysts said they most likely decided to demolish the guard posts all at once to meet the November 30th deadline.

While it used to be a challenge to get any sort of reporting, particularly photography, on the activities of the North Korean military, the press is now clearly able to get in there and cover the action. This photo from the AP, taken by photographer Jung Yeon-je, captures the smoke rising from one of the detonated towers.

Photo by: Jung Yeon-je/Pool via AP

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the project aimed at “dismantling” a number of these guard towers and clearing out some of the landmines along one stretch of the DMZ. Apparently, the process of taking them apart brick by brick was taking too long so the North Korean army opted for a more “direct” solution.

There’s been more of this activity taking place. Just a couple of days ago, soldiers from the North and the South met at the DMZ line out in the woods. Rather than shooting at each other, their officers shook hands and chatted for a while. Here’s the video.

So how much of this is real and how much is for show, as Kim Jong-un continues his charm offensive in an attempt to remove the international sanctions on his country? Last we heard, Kim and President Trump are still pushing ahead toward a second summit, possibly as soon as January. Kim’s lack of missile launches and nuclear tests have certainly impressed the Chinese, enough so that they’ve been quietly reducing economic pressure on the North and undercutting American pressure on Kim’s regime.

Denuclearization of North Korea, more freedom for their people and a formal cessation of the Korean War are all admirable goals. But while you may grow tired of hearing me repeat myself, there’s something important to keep in mind here. Kim Jong-un is still a monster. He and his family have been directly responsible for the murder of tens, hundreds of thousands or even millions of their own citizens. They assassinate prominent military leaders and government officials with impunity while sending countless citizens to die in hidden work camps. His history shows that any promises he makes are valid only as long as they serve his purposes.

Kim has to be watched like a hawk. While much of this recent news is positive and encouraging, North Korea can still not be trusted.