Telling the Government to First Solve North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Problem Is Absurd


Date: January 14, 2018

Summary On Jan. 9, high level North-South Korea took place for the first time in two years. In his New Year's address, President Moon Jae-in even mentioned the possibility of a North-South Summit talk.

Some important points from interview with Jeong Sae-hyun (Minister of Unification under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations)

1) The North-South summit talks should be carried out before the halfway point of the Moon Administration so that it has at least 2-3 years to institutionalize the agreements. Thus, even if an administration hostile to the agreements follows after, the agreement won't be so easily undone. This is a lesson to be learned from the Roh Moo-hyun administration that achieved an agreement with North Korea on Oct. 4th of 2007, less than 6 months before the end of its term. The conservative Lee Myung-bak Administration followed and basically killed the agreement.

2) North Korea has been demanding two things for the past 25 years: normalization of US-NK relations and a peace regime. US-NK normalization and the peace regime cannot be achieved by South Korea. Yet, South Korea has a role in improving relations between North Korea and the United States in order to generate dialogue between them. Former President Kim Dae-jung's such efforts had almost led to then-President Bill Clinton's visit to North Korea.

3) Postponing the War Exercises until after the Pyeongchang Olympics is "like telling a child that doesn't want to be hit that you'll hit them later." From the eyes of North Korea, they don't want a postponement but a stop. In a country struggling economically, it takes a heavy toll to carry out counter-exercises mobilizing tanks, artillery and battleships. That's why every year North Korea asks the War Games to not be carried out. If the War Games are carried out, at least scaling down the size should be considered. The question is whether the United States would even consider this.

4) There are those opposed to the Sept. 19 Joint Statement in 2005 because normalizing US-NK relations would hurt their weapons' sales. Yet, the only thing that can denuclearize North Korea is normalization of US-NK relations. There's no solution to North Korea's denuclearization other than the normalization of relations.