Ottawa Round Table Part 4 – CanKor Brain Trust on the Current Situation in the DPRK

CanKor Brain Trust on the Current Situation in the DPRK

by Paul Evans, Victor Hsu, Hazel Smith, Hark Kroll, Jeremy Paltiel and Jack Kim

Ottawa Round Table on Humanitarian Aid in the Current North Korean Context, 5 March 2012

Q: What dangers and opportunities can you foresee in the evolving situation?

Paul Evans, Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Director, Institute of Asian Research, UBC:

Why assume that the KJU era will be any different? My only glimpse into the fog is the signal from the group that attended the six-month training program here that it was business as usual for a second phase, with no changes expected. I had dinner with a DPRK diplomat in Bangkok as part of an ARF meeting and more or less out of the blue he asked me how the UBC training program had gone and how we could find ways to get more DPRK students to Canada in future. Really out of context and it may be that he only guessed at a connection and my interest by seeing my card. But…

Victor Hsu, Visiting Professor, School of Public Policy and Management , Korea Development Institute (KDI), Seoul:

From my perspective, assuming that ROK maintains its current attempt to reverse the LMB policy, opportunities are going to increase. I don’t believe there will be any continuation of refusal to provide humanitarian aid. Both main parties in ROK are framing renewed engagement, as is the USA. EU will follow suit.

Hazel Smith, Professor of Resilience and Security, Cranfield University, UK:

The DPRK government is far from unique in being culpable of poor governance and failing to meet the food needs of its people. Arguing that the DPRK humanitarian and food crises are unique is wrong in advocacy terms because it reinforces the politicisation of aid to the DPRK in its emphasis on the ‘exceptionally awful’ case of the DPRK.

The reasons for food shortages and economic failure in the DPRK are prosaic. Like very large numbers of governments, the DPRK government lacks oil (to generate revenue), suffered the withdrawal of external subsidies, has an obsolescent economic infrastructure in every respect, and is governed by a non-democratic, economically illiterate and inept government. Read the rest of this entry »

Security and Peace Settlement in North East Asia by Victor Hsu

[At a conference on Common Prosperity in the 21st Century, North East Asia held in Kwangju, South Korea on 7 July 2011, CanKor Brain Trust member Victor Hsu (Professor at the KDI School of Public Policy and Management in Seoul) made a number of points as a discussant. Some excerpts from his intervention are reprinted below. The full text can be accessed by clicking this link: Security and Peace Settlement in Northeast Asia. –CanKor]

The one dimension that should elicit more analysis in depth is the Inter-Korean conflict resulting from the post WWII division of the peninsula. Perhaps the speakers simply assumed that it is unnecessary given that we are meeting in Korea. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasize that our geopolitical analysis must not be limited to the DPRK’s nuclear program in the 6-Party Talks, important as it is. There are several equally urgent issues that require our collective attention.

  • The peace and prosperity of North East Asia will remain elusive as long as Korea remains divided. Should there be any doubt let’s remind ourselves of the military tensions created by the sinking of the Cheonan and the shelling of Yeongypong Island.
  • The division of Korea represents a dangerous tripwire for a major military conflagration. Political miscalculation, misperception of the other’s intentions, posturing or brinksmanship, however you call it, can easily ignite the peninsula with unimaginable consequences. The world’s top four armies may be pulled in, unleashing fire power hitherto unseen in any war theatre. Read the rest of this entry »

Comment on Hsu article by David Straub

[CanKor readers are already familiar with the article referred to in this commentary by CanKor Brain Trust member Professor Victor W. Hsu, Korean Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management & Former National Director for North Korea of World Vision International. An excerpt is provided below. To read the full article, please click here.]

South Korea’s Humanitarian Dilemma, by Victor Hsu

On March 22, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Unification, Lee Jong-joo announced that “there are no plans for direct government-to-government humanitarian aid” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But the government is “considering when and how to resume humanitarian aid provided by South Korean NGOs.” This is certainly a step in the right direction given that in recent months the Republic of Korea (ROK) government officials have had to encounter enquiries not only by their own civil society but also by other governments and various United Nations officials. Read the rest of this entry »

South Korea’s Humanitarian Dilemma by Victor Hsu

[The following article was written by CanKor Brain Trust member Professor Victor W. Hsu, Korean Development Institute School of Public Policy and Management & Former National Director for North Korea of World Vision International. A shortened version was published as an Opinion piece in the Korea Times. – Miranda]

Home visit in Popdong - photo E. Weingartner

On March 22, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Unification, Lee Jong-joo announced that “there are no plans for direct government-to-government humanitarian aid” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). But the government is “considering when and how to resume humanitarian aid provided by South Korean NGOs.” This is certainly a step in the right direction given that in recent months the Republic of Korea (ROK) government officials have had to encounter enquiries not only by their own civil society but also by other governments and various United Nations officials. Officials from the World Food Programme (WFP) arrive this week to explore the possibility for the ROK to participate in a new round of food aid. Read the rest of this entry »

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