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N. Korean leader wants ‘normal state’ treatment

Posted March. 08, 2018 08:09,   

Updated March. 08, 2018 08:09


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly conveyed a message to the South Korean delegation led by National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong that the United States should treat the North as a “normal state.” The remark indicates that Kim wants Washington to take off the “state sponsor of terrorism” label and treat his country as a common state and a dialogue partner. The message also includes the easing or lifting of the strong sanctions on Pyongyang. How U.S. President Donald Trump will take the message will likely determine whether the current situation will lead to a Pyongyang-Washington dialogue.

“When Kim Jong Un met the special envoys, he expressed his will to turn North Korea into a ‘normal state,’ instead of making other demands with regards to the proposed North Korea-U.S. dialogue,” a key official at the South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday. “This suggests that if the United States eases pressures (on the North), Pyongyang is also willing to resolve the denuclearization issue.”

A “normal state” means an ordinary country that abides by international law and norms. “Kim Jong Un’s mention of a normal state is a signal that he wants Washington to treat his country as an equal member of the international community, not as a sanctions target,” a diplomatic source said. “Turning (the North) a normal state involves a process that includes everything from easing sanctions and normalizing the economy first to ultimately guaranteeing its regime.” Kim’s suggestion of no further nuclear and missile provocations during the dialogue phase is also viewed as Pyongyang’s intention to behave like a normal state, rather than a “rogue state.”

Seoul’s message on Pyongyang’s position, to be conveyed by National Security Office chief Chung to Washington, reportedly includes the “normal state” issue. Chung visits Washington on Thursday to persuade the White House to accept dialogue with Pyongyang. Cheong Wa Dae aims to make any type of North Korea-U.S. contact happen before the third inter-Korean summit scheduled for late April.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com