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No Channel Between South and North Korea

Posted February. 13, 2005 23:07,   


Even though North Korea submitted a wild card by announcing that they possess nuclear weapons, both Seoul and Washington predict that it was a hard choice for North Korea to make.

The Korean government is in a plight in dealing with North Korea, a situation that could change the course of the Korean peninsula’s destiny.

Sleepless in Pyongyang-

The Korean government predicts that North Korea announced the possession of nuclear weapons after a long and careful consideration.

The second-term George W. Bush administration seemed to be eager to corner North Korea through its hawkish policy and reports of North Korea’s nuclear material exports to Libya. Recently, even China is leaning towards the U.S.

A high-ranking official of Korean government said, “A few days ago, Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Michael Green, Asian affairs senior director of Bush`s National Security Council, to talk about North Korea’s export of nuclear materials. It has been said that North Korea was appalled by such behavior from the chief of China.” Senior Director Green has visited Japan, China, and Korea in order from the end of January to the beginning of February.

The Washington foreign source analyzed that North Korea was most concerned with the possibility of becoming an “International Missing Child” if it gave up its nuclear weapons program. At least Libya has oil, but North Korea is just empty hands and naked fists.

The limitations to the aid they can receive from South Korea, the limitations with its normalization with Japan, and always the feasibility of the U.S. not keeping up with the promise of a “multilateral security guarantee” have led North Korea to make such a bad move.

No channel open with North Korea is Seoul’s concern-

The Korean government is helpless. At least the Kim Dae-jung administration had an “underground channel,” but the Roh Moo-hyun administration has informed North Korea to meet it only through an official window such as the ministerial-level talks.

The Washington foreign source said, “We have an open channel with North Korea through Moon Jung In, the director of Asia-Pacific Studies (on matters of nuclear issues), but we can’t look at it as functioning smoothly.”

It was the Korean government that persuaded the U.S. in June of last year during the third round of six-party talks to come up with a new solution to deal with the North Korean nuclear problem. However, the North did not show gratitude, only demanding bilateral talks.

An expert in North Korean affairs criticized such behavior, saying “It is an anti-U.S. submissive behavior.”

For now, the only hope remains in the outcome of the North Korea visit by Wang Jiarui, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, planned at the end of this month. However, it is uncertain if Chairman Kim Jong Il will meet with him. It has been reported that North Korea has delivered the message of “North Korea will not change its decision from Wang’s visit” to China.

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com