North Korea Monitor

Pyongyang Still Not Playing Fair

with 5 comments

Kim Jong Il snubbed Christopher Hill, says the World Tribune. According to reports, Kim refused to personally accept George W. Bush’s letter, sent via Hill, at the end of last year. Instead, Hill was forced to deliver the letter to North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun. Despite this, Hill remains upbeat about the future of the Six-Party Talks, telling a Senate committee:

“I don’t want to make bets about a game that I’m playing in, but we have reason to believe that we can make progress. And while we do, we are not at all happy that we’ve missed our deadline, that is Dec. 31, [but] we believe it’s worth continuing to work on this.”

Meanwhile, ex-Defense Secretary William J. Perry, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg and former deputy assistant secretary of state Evans Revere will head to Pyongyang for the upcoming New York Philharmonic Concert. The trio is expected to meet, in an unofficial capacity, with North Korean Nuclear negotiator Kim Gye Gwan. On what he plans to relay to Kim Gye Gwan, Gregg told Bloomberg:

“I will tell them that they should not wait,” he said in an interview today. Gregg said he will say, “You need to take full advantage of what the Bush administration is now urging you to do, and move quickly on it.”

Gregg, a long-time Korea watcher and chairman of the New York-based Korea society is even more optimistic than Hill, comparing the philharmonic’s visit to Nixon’s Ping-Pong Diplomacy with China:

“I call it a 16-inch broadside of soft power fired by the Philharmonic,” he said.

Michael Breen chimed in as well, telling Bloomberg:

“My guess is that the North Koreans are planning to sit out the Bush administration and wait to deal with President Obama…Musical diplomacy and entreaties by U.S. visitors later this month won’t dissuade them, unless it is accompanied by a surprise visit by Ms. Rice.”

As for a potential Rice visit, there is still no official word, but DongA Ilbo speculates that such a visit is “likely.”

All this on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the February 13th Agreement, as Joshua at OneFreeKorea points out. What does the International Community have to show for its efforts? I’ll let South Korean envoy Chun Young-Woo answer that:

“The issue of declaration is a difficult one in its essence… it would take time and efforts as (the North) has to change its previous claims…Though it is being delayed, energy aid will be provided to the North to ensure the North would not worry (via IHT)


Written by nkmonitor

February 15, 2008 at 1:35 am

5 Responses

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  1. What does the International Community have to show for its efforts?

    There’s been no new missile launches, and the KOSPI is still pointing north. Conservatives lament it, but this – especially the latter – is all that matters.


    February 15, 2008 at 6:50 am

  2. First off, thanks for leaving a comment. I really appreciate it and hope you enjoy this site. However, here are a couple of problems I have with that line reasoning.

    1)The KOSPI is up. Up from where? From its lows in 1998? definitely. From the beginning of the year? Nope. Over the last 3 months? Nope (currently its a hair above its 3-month and 6-month lows) . So, right here we have an ambiguously defined term. Related to this is the assumption that the KOSPI is influenced by North Korea developments. I’ll grant that it is to some extant, but there are many other factors more relevant to the KOSPI’s performance than North Korea. North Korean issues appear to have an undeniable short –term influence, but long-term influence is more doubtful. The KOSPI isn’t even a good indicator of economic growth.

    2)No missile launches. And throw in no nuclear tests to boot. However, just because they haven’t launched a missile doesn’t mean they aren’t researching and constructing missiles, or doing other nefarious things.

    3) A major unstated premise: you say because there have been no missile launches and because the KOSPI is up, that the efforts by the International Community were successful (after all, you said those are the only things that matter). Your major unstated premise, which is wrong, is that the KOSPI and missile launches are all that matters in North Korea’s denculearization process. By this logic, even if the Korean economy tanked and the North invaded, or nuked Seoul, or global warming flooded the coasts, or there was an Ebola outbreak and so on, than everything is a-okay if the KOSPI is up and the North isn’t testing any missiles.


    February 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

  3. “…the KOSPI is still pointing north”

    That’s just a pun on a generally positive, even if not rising, KOSPI and DPRK.

    Actually, thanks for taking the time to draw the major premise out. Unfortunately, you’re dead right. If nukes were an issue, the US and the rest of the nuclear powers and the IAEA would attempt more radical multilateral measures. As long as the ROK economy is positive and the KPA doesn’t attack, there’s no need to be too alarmed by human rights concerns or even brinkmanship. The economic component is always important, and even Ebola and a rising ocean tide wouldn’t distract world leaders from the stock markets.

    I make this argument as an interdependence theorist. The military costs of dealing with DPRK are too economically prohibitive. Now, if Seoul gets flattened by mistake tomorrow, that equation might change.


    February 15, 2008 at 1:21 pm

  4. Hm, interesting post.


    February 16, 2008 at 6:42 am

  5. By “If nukes were an issue, the US and the rest of the nuclear powers and the IAEA would attempt more radical multilateral measures” do you mean nukes aren’t the issue? How would you define the main issue? Do you feel there is some ulterior motive in play? If world leaders were solely concerned about the state of the economy, why would they even bother with North Korea?

    I don’t think there has to be a false dichotomy between military action and the status quo. Military action is not just economically prohibitive, it’s unproductive. Even a surgical strike against the North’s nuclear facilities would result in untold losses. I think it was Khrushchev who said “Berlin is the testicle of West. When I want to make them scream I just give it a little squeeze.” The same is true in this case. Due to Seoul’s proximity to the North’s artillery, they pretty much have the world by the balls. Not to mention the fact that the South is highly urbanized while the North is one of the least urbanized countries in the world. They can extract greater losses from our side then we can there’s. And, that’s also assuming they limit their attack to South Korea. Japan is within striking distance and so might be the U.S. West Coast.

    Rather than military action or the status quo, there are a whole range of policy options in between. For instance, a policy demanding greater reciprocity from the North, as LMB proposed, is not a bad alternative. Why should the International Community keep funneling aid to the North if they are not getting anything in return? We know that KJI uses those donations and other foreign currency earnings to strengthen his grip on power. He needs us more than we need him, which actually gives him the incentive to cooperate. The problem, of course, is the Sunshine Policy of the last 10 years and its no-strings-attached aid. After all, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? The other problem is the Bush administration which has done a pretty bad job of defining its North Korea policy.


    February 16, 2008 at 12:29 pm

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