Amid North Korea’s series of missile provocations, South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong’s comment during his visit to the U.S. is under criticism. Chung urged the U.S. government to detail more specific incentives it might offer North Korea during an interview with The Washington Post on Sept. 23 (local time). Even if the interview was conducted before the North’s launch of a hypersonic missile, his comment is criticized for disregarding the nation’s recent behavior of continued armed provocations.
“If we let the status quo continue, it will lead to the strengthening of North Korean missile capabilities,” said Chung who was visiting the U.S. to attend the U.N. General Assembly, according to The Washington Post on Thursday. He called on the U.S. government to detail more specific incentives it might offer North Korea. Chung said the two main impediments to talks with the North were distrust between the two sides and North Korea’s self-imposed isolation as it tries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “Distrust cannot be overcome with a single stroke,” Chung said. He repeatedly insisted that the Joe Biden administration should spell out the “concrete things” it can offer North Korea at the negotiating table, such as a declaration to formally bring an end to the Korean War.
“The U.S. should not be passive in offering incentives to the North. It is time to examine an option to ease or lift sanctions,” the foreign minister also said during his talk at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Sept. 22, the day before the interview. He also said that China’s aggressive diplomacy is a natural course for the country to take even though it is criticized by the U.S. The foreign affairs minister’s comment to seemingly defend China in the U.S. when the Biden administration is trying to keep China in check caused controversy.
“In our outreach we have made specific proposals for discussion with the DPRK but have not received a response. We are seeking serious and sustained diplomacy with the DPRK and are prepared to meet without preconditions,” said a U.S. high-ranking official, refuting Chung’s comment.