At an inaugural meeting of the 19th National Unification Advisory Council presided over by South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday, he addressed that the clock has just begun ticking again to head for denuclearization and long-lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. He said that swift arrangements are being made to resume working-level negotiations for a third summit between the United States and North Korea. He defined that Washington and Pyongyang will resume negotiations at the working level, which is expected to happen sooner or later, as part of preparations for their third summit.
It seems that he highly hopes that the resumption of the U.S.-North Korea working-level negotiations will immediately bring about a mood of reconciliation to the peninsula. After the South Korean president stated in his United Nations General Assembly speech that the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas would be a future “peace and cooperation district,” he added up to say on Monday that an international special economic zone could be established around the DMZ to embark on the era of “peaceful economy.” However, special economic zones can materialize only after North Korea implements complete denuclearization while the United Nations lifts sanctions on Pyongyang. In a situation where North Korea attempts to solidify its status as a nuclear state let alone denuclearization, it sounds unrealistic that President Moon elaborates a rooftop design plan while things don’t even allow him to start groundwork.
The key point to denuclearization talks lies in working-level negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Nevertheless, President Moon said that the working-level negotiations are a pre-step to a summit between the two nations. It seems that Moon takes for granted that U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have a summit meeting to bring back a top-down approach to the table. It is too early to have high hopes of working-level talks, which have not yet started. Besides, it may be safe to say that he thinks less of them as a mere preliminary step to a U.S.-North Korea summit. However, as already proven, such an approach does not work at all.
The model of top-down talks may likely fail due to factors irrelevant to agendas and state leaders’ personalities or moods while involving risks of producing undesirable results. It is exactly what the North Korean leader aspires to see happen as he tries to grab the attention of the international community. At the same time, it is an easy trap for President Trump to fall into. It is time that a closed conclusion should be made based on deep working-level and high-level talks, not on political showmanship between Washington and Pyongyang.