What Park Geun-hye actually said about North Korea in Washington

Remarks by President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea to a Joint Session of Congress

Location: House Chamber, The Capitol, Washington, D.C., Time: 10:39 a.m. EDT, Date: Wednesday, 8 May 2013

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

ROK President Park Geun-hye addresses a joint meeting of Congress in Washington 8 May 2013. (Photo from Ebru News)

PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE:

Speaker Boehner, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of the House and the Senate, ladies and gentlemen, I’m privileged to stand in this chamber, this hallowed ground of freedom and democracy, to speak about our friendship and our future together.

After I arrived in Washington the day before yesterday, I went to the Korean War Memorial, near the banks of the Potomac. I read the words etched in granite. Our nation honors the sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met. Time and again, I’m moved when I read those familiar words. (Applause.)

Let me express on behalf of the people of the Republic of Korea our profound gratitude to America’s veterans. Their blood, sweat and tears helped safeguard freedom and democracy. (Applause.) Read the rest of this entry »

A Third Way – the United States and North Korea, by Keith Luse

[The following keynote presentation by Keith Luse was delivered at the “Engaging Enemies” Conference, co-hosted by the ANU-IU Pan Pacific Institute, the East Asia Foundation, and other co-sponsors on 18 April 2013. Keith Luse was Senior Professional Staff Member in the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. As an East Asian expert, he was East Asia Foreign Policy Advisor/Senior Professional Staff Member to (former) Senator Richard Lugar. –CanKor]

keith luse

Keith Luse

During my initial trip to North Korea in 2003, at a location about an hour north of Pyongyang, one of North Korea’s top American analysts turned to me and said, “We know that Senator Lugar is a very stern person, as his facial shape is the same as President Putin in Russia.”

Three days later on an extended excursion out of Pyongyang to view sites distributing American food aid, an unexpected confrontation ensued with one of my hosts whom I angered during a discussion about U.S. policy toward their country. The North Korean official said, “We made a mistake in allowing you into my country — you are very deceptive. You have a round face of compassion like Congressman Tony Hall who has assisted us with food aid, but you have a heart of hardness.”

And so began my engagement experience with North Korean officials. Five trips and several meetings with North Koreans later — within and outside of North Korea, I am admittedly amazed that all-out conflict has not reoccurred due to a miscalculation by one side or the other. Read the rest of this entry »

President Obama’s Edsel problem, by Donald P. Gregg

[Donald P. Gregg is a retired diplomat, currently serving as chairman of the Pacific Century Institute. From 1951 to 1982 he worked for the CIA. He was national security advisor to US Vice President George H. W. Bush. He served as United States Ambassador to South Korea from 1989 to 1993. During the time he was chairman of the board of The Korea Society in the USA, he called for greater engagement with North Korea. He wrote this opinion piece for The Korea Times on 11 April 2013. –CanKor]

Donald Gregg

Fifty-five years ago, the Ford Motor Company unveiled its highly advertised new car, the Edsel, which it expected to sell spectacularly. Instead, the Edsel flopped from the moment of its introduction, and is now rated one of the 50 worst cars of all time.

How did that come about? Apparently in those days Detroit’s engineers were vulnerable to a virulent form of groupthink that produced failure, not success.

I fear that today President Obama has a sort of “Edsel problem” as far as his North Korea policy is concerned. Many Washington policymakers focused on Korea have, since the advent of the George W. Bush administration, fallen victim to the collective belief that talking to North Korea would be a form of rewarding bad behavior on Pyongyang’s part, and that pressure, in terms of sanctions and military threats can wean North Korea away from its belief that developing nuclear weapons is the surest way to protect itself from U.S. attacks. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea: The Dog that Hasn’t Barked by Leon V. Sigal

[Long-time friend of CanKor, Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York and author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. Sigal wrote this article for The National Interest, 11 October 2012.]

 

Kim Jong Un [Photo: Petersnoopy/Flickr]

Kim Jong-un’s mid-July shake-up of his military top brass occasioned a spate of media speculation about a transformation in North Korea. Yet Kim’s abrupt move only showed he was firmly enough in charge to fire the general whom his father had promoted to chief of staff. From what little we know about North Korea, it did not portend dramatic economic reform.

Potentially more significant, a widely anticipated third nuclear test by the North has not taken place. Preparations for such a test were under way when Kim’s father died. Kim’s restraint may signal that he wants to reengage with the United States, Japan and South Korea. That in turn could foster the more tranquil external environment he needs to turn his full attention to improving his economy.

Calm Borders

Kim’s speeches have hinted at economic change afoot, but those hints are inconclusive. If he implements plans to experiment with expanded private farming and allows farmers to keep more of the proceeds, it could ease chronic food shortages in the North. And tinkering with greater autonomy for industrial managers could improve resource allocation in notoriously inefficient sectors. Read the rest of this entry »

Secret US-DPRK Talks? Chris Nelson Deciphers Recent White House Comments

[A number of statements by US Administration officials in recent weeks have some experts wondering whether there are secret US-DPRK talks happening through back channels and what might be the contents of such talks. In the 24 May 2012 edition of the Nelson Report, Chris Nelson ponders the significance of comments by Ben Rhodes, US deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, as reported by Yonhap news agency. We reprint the Yonhap story below, followed by Chris Nelson’s commentary, with kind permission of the author. –CanKor]

WHAT’S UP WITH THE US AND DPRK? (by Chris Nelson)

That other major “war and peace” problem, N. Korea, also may be the subject of renewed discussions, at least… it seems very premature to talk about “negotiations”. We confirmed in Tuesday’s Report S. Korean and VOA accounts of a “secret” Administration mission to Pyongyang at the end of April, just prior to the failed ICBM/satellite launch.

(For current coverage in the ROK, see “U.S. Officials in Secret Visit to N. Korea Before Rocket Launch” in the English version of Chosun Ilbo.)

Yesterday, an official White House briefing, and then in Tokyo, State Dept. Special Envoy Glyn Davies, who was not on the mission, can be argued to have indirectly confirmed both the trip, and the purpose we had speculated in last night’s Report… that is, interest on both sides in trying to walk the situation back to the 2/29 agreement, including US food aid as a buy-in for resurrecting the agreement to freeze nuclear weapons and missile tests. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea’s Treacherous New Course, by Leon V. Sigal

[The following commentary by Leon Sigal, long-time friend of CanKor, appeared in the American bimonthly foreign-policy journal The National Interest, 19 April 2012. Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York and author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. –CanKor]

“There they go again.” That was the Washington’s reaction to North Korea’s recent rocket launch and renunciation of its February 29 commitment not to conduct a nuclear test. Yet this time looks different—and more dangerous. These actions suggest Pyongyang no longer cares about improving relations with the United States, the premise of its willingness to restrain its nuclear and missile efforts.

Unbounded nuclear and missile development by Pyongyang would gradually erode the security of all of its neighbors and the world at large. The only prudent course is a robust strategy of containment: denial of its weapons-related trade by tougher inspections of suspect cargo and tighter overflight restrictions.

A Mixed History

For years, North Korean officials have been saying they want to improve relations with the United States and were prepared to restrain their nuclear and missile programs in return. An end to enmity—what the North called U.S. “hostile policy”—would improve North Korean security and provide a counterweight to China. It would also facilitate aid and investment from South Korea and Japan, thereby reducing its economic dependence on China.

Given the lack of trust between the two countries, however, Pyongyang insisted on reciprocal steps by Washington—action for action—to build confidence. Pyongyang’s decision to conduct last week’s test launch, by contrast, destroyed confidence. Read the rest of this entry »

38 North: The US-DPRK “Choose Your Own Adventure” Experience by Andray Abrahamian

[From time to time CanKor alerts readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is authored by  Andray Abrahamian.  Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. –CanKor]

The US-DPRK deal signed last month is a softline message; the Satellite Launch is a hardline one. Washington would do well to ignore the hardline one.

In 1962, with the United States and the USSR seemingly spiraling towards nuclear war, Khrushchev and Kennedy engineered history’s most important diplomatic breakthrough.

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, with both the White House and the Kremlin under incredible pressure, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a message that demanded a declaration of non-aggression from the United States towards Cuba in return for a Soviet withdrawal. The next morning, however, after consultation with government officials more inclined to take a harder line, Khrushchev sent Kennedy a second letter. This one demanded the United States remove its Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey as part of the deal, a proposal that would have made Kennedy appear to cave to high-stakes blackmail had he accepted it. Read the rest of this entry »

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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