Is North Korea Ready for a U-Turn? by Chung Min Lee

[Prof. Chung Min Lee is dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul. In this article written for the Wall Street Journal, 12 March 2012, he examines a proposal made by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho during a closed-door “Track 2” seminar held in New York last Saturday, 10 March 2012. According to Mr. Lee, the biggest obstacles to any reform intended by fledgling DPRK leader Kim Jong Un are not Washington and Seoul, but his own party apparatchiks. –CanKor]

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is helped through a crush of reporters, Thursday, 8 March 2012 in New York. Kissinger attended a conference with a DPRK delegation on Peace and Cooperation in Northeast Asia, hosted by Syracuse University. (Photo by Mary Altaffer, Associated Press)

At the first track-two dialogue between U.S. and North Korean officials since Kim Jong Eun’s rise to power, Pyongyang hinted that a breakthrough in relations might be possible. Meeting in New York City last week, both sides discussed building trust in order to rethink geopolitics on the Korean Peninsula in the post-Kim Jong Il era.

A senior North Korean official stated that “unlike the previous generation, the new leadership [of North Korea] wants peace and will not fight with the United States.” Another North Korean official stated that “the recent agreement in Beijing with regard to plutonium cessation is irreversible” and that “we will take consistent steps to ensure its success. He added that the North’s plutonium program “97% has been disabled and if we reverse this, it would be a game changer. As long as both parties abide by the agreement, one can be assured that [plutonium] production is irreversible.” Read the rest of this entry »

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