We Need to Avoid the Same Mistakes Again in Dealing with North Korea
We Need to Avoid the Same Mistakes Again in Dealing with North Korea
  • Kyudok Hong
  • 승인 2009.12.19 00:20
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

  Sookmyung Women’s University
In the past month or two, North Korea has appeared to be trying to calm tensions by releasing two American journalists, a South Korean worker at the Kaesung industrial complex and four fishermen it had been holding.  It also allowed the resumption of family reunion event between North and South Korea, reopened a border crossing and sent a delegation to attend the funeral of former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung.  Moreover, Kim Jong-il was recently quoted as telling Dai Bingguo, the Chinese envoy who visited Pyongyang that “he would solve relevant issues through bilateral and multilateral talks” on September 18, 2009 and his willingness to return to the six party talks was once again confirmed during the meeting of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who visited Pyongyang to congratulate on the 60th anniversary of ties between two countries on October 4-6, 2009.  The change of position may be considered as a progress since the North was committed not to return to the sixparty talks.  At this time of writing, however, we do not know yet when and where the Obama administration will begin talking to the North.   Perhaps, as China did, the Obama administration may need to buy the same horse again in order to force them to return to the six party talks and carry out what the North had already promised to do.  The key difference is that the Obama administration would have to maintain sanctions even if it is open to dialogue with Pyongyang.  However, Park Gil-yon, North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister urged the United States to discard policy of confrontation and warned that Pyongyang would not be thwarted by those sanctions during his speech at the United Nations on September 27, 2009.  It seems too early to determine whether Kim’s new strategy of mixing hard and soft approaches would work as planned.  Initially, the North’s efforts to break the coalition put every concerned player on the same page.  The frank acknowledgement of failure in the past approaches among five parties seems to be the good rallying point to build a coherent and smarter approach.  However, the questions that need to be posed here are: how long we can maintain a united front against the North?  Are we ready for a well-coordinated game plan? What can we do if North Korea still does not want to make a strategic choice until it is satisfied at the bilateral meetings?

-Kim’s calculations behind a new peace offensive Kim firmly believes that the United States will not retaliate as long as it is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also that the momentum among five parties will easily break up if he deals with each skillfully.  In fact, nobody has evinced the sentiment for bilateral dialogue more clearly than President Obama.  Kim still remembers clearly Obama’s campaign pledge, saying that he would be willing to talk to enemy leaders if that’s what it takes to bring about peace and reconciliation.  The North will keep threatening Washington because it realizes that its coercive actions including detonating another nuclear bomb will definitely put the Obama administration’s effectiveness into question and make Obama look less credible as the commander-in-chief for the eyes of American voters at home.  The North expects that President Obama would grudgingly look for a way out before mid-term election.  Kim calculates that there is no alternative for the Obama administration but to engage the North.  Therefore, the North will do its best to make American security planners compromise with a practical solution at the bilateral meetings.  On the contrary to general perception on Lee’s hard-line attitude toward Pyongyang, the Lee government is willing to thaw the relations and reboot the North Korea’s failing economy if the North makes a strategic decision of irreversible denuclearization.  President Lee explained his idea to the North Korean officials who visited the Blue House at the Kim Dae-jung’s funeral and further elaborated on it with a new concept of “grand bargain” when he spoke to the members of the Council on Foreign Relations and Korean Society in New York.  He urges that the North should redirect its overall strategy before asking resumption of tourism project at Gumgang Mountain and delivery of food aids and fertilizers.  As he aptly describes in his address in New York, providing a clear way out for North Korea is crucial in order for them to make a hard choice.  What he would like to focus in his proposal of “grand bargain” is that we must avoid the same mistakes that we have done before.
At least four additional points need to be addressed: 1) Any attempt to restore bilateral relations with North will be made with extreme caution; 2) It must not hamper the spirit made by UNSC Resolutions 1874 and 1718 until it is verified in a irreversible way; 3) Seoul’s position toward North Korea’s denuclearization must remain unchanged; 4) non-proliferation and denuclearization cannot be dealt separately.

삭제한 댓글은 다시 복구할 수 없습니다.
그래도 삭제하시겠습니까?
댓글 0
계정을 선택하시면 로그인·계정인증을 통해
댓글을 남기실 수 있습니다.