“The next summer will be very dangerous without the announcement of the end of the Korean War,” said Chancellor Hong Hyun-ik of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) during his visit to the U.S. on Tuesday. He also argued that the ROK-U.S. joint military training should be postponed next year if negotiations with North Korea resume.
“North Korea will wait and see until the 2022 Beijing Olympics in February and the presidential election in South Korea in March but not after that,” said Hong at a seminar on the projection of the U.S.-North Korea relations held by Woodrow Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C. “The U.S. should give a true opportunity to North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons,” he added. “It is President Moon Jae-in’s proposal to announce the end of the Korean War as the first step toward it.”
“North Korea sees the U.S. as an unreliable country with many words but no actions,” said Hong, asking for the U.S.’s accountability. The North has expressed its willingness to close its Punggye-ri nuclear test site and stop mid- to long-range missile launches but the U.S. has not taken any corresponding actions. “We need to make North Korean leader Kim Jong Un into Mikhail Gorbachev who led the reform and opening of Russia. But we might be actually turning him into”
Many leaders of national research institutes on unification, foreign affairs, and security in South Korea called for the announcement of the end of the war but academics in Washington and think tank leaders expressed concerns or criticism. “The end of the war announcement carries risks in terms of the relationship between South Korea and the U.S., which can lead to a devastating end,” said David Maxwell, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“If South Korea pushes for the end of the war announcement too much, it can be damaging to the relationship between South Korea and the U.S.,” said Scott Harold, a senior fellow at RAND Corporation. “Complimenting North Korea for not launching a missile is like complimenting someone for not killing anybody today,” said Bruce Klingner, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, reminding the audience of the fact that North Korea’s missile launches are banned by the U.N. sanctions against the country.
During a press briefing with Washington correspondents after the seminar, Chancellor Hong said large-scale joint military drills by South Korea and the U.S. next spring should be postponed if negotiations with the North resume.