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Kim Jong-il Worries About U.S. North Korean Policy Post-Election

Kim Jong-il Worries About U.S. North Korean Policy Post-Election

Posted April. 29, 2004 21:19,   


“I’ve heard that during his visit to Beijing, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told the Chinese Guidance Division of the Communist party, ‘I’m concerned that the U.S. stance toward us will be aggravated following next November’s presidential election.’”

On the condition of anonymity, a high-level U.S. official remarked during a telephone interview with our newspaper on April 28 that, “Recently, this rumor has circulated throughout the U.S. political world.” He added, “We are focusing on whether or not it is true and the origin of this rumor.”

If Kim made such a comment, the U.S. may regard it as an important shift in North Korea that necessitates close surveillance. Considering the possibility of U.S. President George W. Bush’s defeat in the upcoming election, North Korean experts in Seoul and Washington expect that North Korea will “muddle through” the current nuclear dilemma until the election is over.

Experts in Korea and the U.S. are considering Kim’s unconfirmed statement in two different manners. The statement primarily reflects Kim’s anxiety that if President Bush fails to win re-election and Democrat John Kerry assumes the presidency, the U.S. policy toward North Korea will not improve.

On April 29, a source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade stated, “Though whether the statement is true or false is obscure, the brand-new Democratic regime will not change the U.S. political stance on North Korea.” He added, “Due to the pressure for a practical outcome as soon as possible, the new administration will adopt stronger measures against North Korea.”

“Even if Kerry wins the election, the Republicans who support the current policy toward North Korea will have control of Congress,” remarked a source from the U.S. administration. The source went on to explain, “The U.S. policy toward North Korea seems difficult to mollify. But we don’t expect that Kim will be more flexible at the negotiation table with this expectation in mind.”

There is also a contradictory view, asserting Kim’s belief that, “If U.S. hostility against North Korea does not change even after the election, we can behave rambunctiously at any time.” Kim is currently attempting to obtain economic assistance from China, a nation that is eager to solve this problem as soon as possible.

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com