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Inter-Korean Relations: Past, Present and Future (Panel 4)

Panelists: Kim Sangwoo, and John Merill
Moderator: Joel S. Wit, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University, and Visiting Fellow, U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
June 13, 2002
Council on Foreign Relations


The Future of North-South Relations (Panel 4)

Joel S. Wit [JW]:  Please, if the members of the last panel could come up here, and then we could get going.  If everyone could take their seats, and then we'll move this along as quickly as we can.  We might try to close ranks a little bit.  (Laughs)  I want to thank all of you for staying throughout the day.  Maybe I'm just biased, but I think this is actually the most interesting issue of the day, is what's going to happen in the future.  And it seems we've gotten to the point now where our panel is almost out numbering the audience, but ...I'm Joel Witt, I'm a Senior Fellow here, and I'm glad all of you could make it today.  I think it's been a very long and difficult and sometimes interesting day.  But I'm going to be very ruthless about keeping people to, at the maximum, ten minutes each, and that will leave us some time for some discussion once everyone's done with their presentation.  So on that note, I think what I'd like to do is start out with, you know, our presenters on South Korea and North Korea, and then broaden the circle out to the other great powers, and ending with the United States, and Larry.  So why don't we start, Mr. Kim, with South Korea?  And as I said, I'm going to ... when we get near the ten minute mark, I'm going to start nudging people, so please keep your comments brief and to the point.

Ambassador Kim Sangwoo [KS]:     Enormous pressure to be speaking at the last session as one, also having more on the ... panelists ... another.  And most of us, including myself, are very tired, a very long day.  However, I will try to be as brief as possible on a topic that is quite complex.  Even I sometimes wonder whether I understand it fully.  Domestics politics, of course not only in South Korea but in other countries as well, more than not drives some of these important issues, and especially in South Korea this year we have ... it's an election year ... already the local election results have come through.  The government party, or the ruling party, has suffered a devastating defeat, and six months later we'll have a presidential election.  And how that would result of course, no one yet knows.    But before going into that, I would like to briefly try to simply illustrate or try to explain what the Sunshine Policy means, because sometimes all this controversy about whether the Sunshine Policy is a success, a failure, etc., to me it seems quite amazing that such statements or such evaluation of the Sunshine Policy can be made so easily and at such an early stage.  I think the Sunshine Policy, what it means to me has a fundamental definition.  One is that for the first time I think the Koreans took the initiative to try to determine the fate of the Korean Peninsula.  Before it was the US and North Korea, and South Korea was sort playing a subsidiary role. 

Now, of course the Korean Peninsula was, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the only remaining sort of Cold War regime in the world ten years on.  I think President Kim de Jung's Sunshine Policy has enabled the psychological barriers that existed for more than half a century in South Korea, as well as in North Korea, to decrease considerably, and it is continuing to decrease, is a turning point I think as a Korean to look at this.  Because the vivid sort of imagery of that I could illustrate is the 1999 West Sea naval battle was taking place.  At the same time on the East Coast, or on the East Sea, there was an ocean cruiser with South Korean tourists going to Mt. Kumgum(?).  This was the same time when there was a naval battle in the West Sea.  And in the East Sea there was a pack of South Korean tourists going to Mt. Kumgum.

Now, I cannot imagine that kind of image, and there was no escalation, there was no link after that.  The tourism project continued, the program continued.  It is something that I cannot imagine as I was growing up, such a thing to happen.  I mean, the Inter-Korean Summit, although because it has taken place, is now taken for granted, two leaders actually meeting, having a summit, was unthinkable.  I remember when the Unification Minister was explaining to us ... then I was a member of the National Assembly ... saying that there will be a summit.  This was just the day before.  Then North Korea said that they would like a postponement of 24 hours or something.  And then the opposition party members said, "Aha, North Korea is backing down.  The summit will not take place, it cannot take place."  This was the day before the summit took place.

I mean, all this kind of feeling still exists.  There is a sharp division within South Korea about North Korea.  But one thing is clear, even the opposition party does not have an alternative to engage in North Korea.  They have differences in nuances, emphasis of priorities, but they do not have a fundamentally different approach.  And even if Ewa-Chung(?) becomes the next President, he will certainly, maybe in a different degree of manner, continue to engage in North Korea, or will at least try to continue to engage in North Korea.  The only problem is North Korea doesn't trust the opposition party of Ewa-Chung, and they have made it very clear.

I don't think that however this will mean that North Korea will not have a dialogue with Ewa-Chung if he becomes President, or the opposition party, if it becomes a ruling party of the government.  But there will be certainly a lack of trust and confidence.  One thing that is certain that has been built between the contingent(?) government and the North Korean leadership, is that North Korea and Kim Jong Yu, for that matter, does trust President Kim's sincerity and his constant and very consistent message that has been sent to North Korea, that South Korea is willing to improve relations with North Korea.

So although domestic politics has also driven a situation where Ewa-Chung once was considered to be anti-nationalistic, in the sense that Ewa-Chung and opposition party did not want to improve relations with the North, therefore ignoring the national aspiration of unification, etc.  Now, this was compounded actually by the US position when the now famous President Bush statement, "Axis of evil."  Because Ewa-Chung was visiting the US, and immediately when he returned from the US to Korea, the statement by President Bush came out.

There was a suspicion in South Korea that Ewa-Chung was very much sort of part of encouraging ... this is a perception, I'm not saying this is a fact ... it's a perception of some suspicion that some Koreans had in South Korea, and criticism was made as such ... that by telling President Bush and his administration that Ewa-Chung and his party, if they become elected, if they become the new government, they will follow the American policy towards North Korea.

But the criticism within South Korea against this statement was much more severe than one would have expected.  I mean, the criticism against the US hard line policy saying that "Now Korea has for the first time since the division of the country, a genuine opportunity to improve relations with its Northern brethren, and the US' hard line policy is disrupting the possibility of that."  Now, this is the perception that South Koreans had.  And hence the anti-American sentiment.  Now, I agree that the anti-American sentiment is not as serious as one would think.  It is more like it is a dissatisfaction on the part of the Koreans of the insensitivity of the Americans towards South Korea and South Korean aspiration.

However, Ewa-Chung responded by toning down his criticism on the Sunshine Policy.  His National Assembly speech, he said that "There is not alternative to engagement.  The Americans should have a dialogue with the North."  And he went to Japan, and he also used the same statement.  Now the opposition party, the Grand National Party, recently made a statement criticizing the US stance on refugees, questioning the US position, and why North Korean refugees cannot be received as asylum seekers in third countries.  This is something that the GMP is doing, I mean, that is something that one would not have imagined, the opposition party criticizing US government position.

Anyway, I think I have to conclude by saying that whoever becomes the next president and the new government in South Korea, engagement will continue.  It will be a different ... if the opposition and Ewa-Chung becomes the new president, there will be a period where North Korea ... they need to build confidence and trust with North Korea, which may be possible, which may not be possible, it depends on the situation.  Certainly the prospects of change in the South Korean domestic policy as seen in terms of inter-Korean relations will be something that is still quite unpredictable and volatile.  Now, these pressures have certainly given me an opportunity to try to quickly explain what it's all about.  I'm sure that didn't make any sense at all, but thank you anyway.

JW:              Thank you, Mr. Kim.  Why don't we go next to North Korea, and we'll start with John Merrill.

John Merill [JM]:    Thanks, Joel.  It's very nice to be here, even for such a depleted audience.  But I understand it's now almost 5:00 a.m. in Seoul, so people are jet-lagged ... oh, it's Daylight Saving, yes ... have got to go.  I always have to start these things with a quick disclaimer.  I'm on the analysis than on the policy side at the State Department, and so what I'm going to say should not be regarded in any way, shape or form as representing the views of the US government or the State Department.

I guess it's been mentioned before, but just let me underscore it, that this conference is very well timed on the Second Anniversary of the Inter-Korean Summit.  And I suppose it's a time for stock taking, and also for looking ahead.  On the stock taking side, I think, you know, the picture is mixed.  I agree with what Ambassador Kim has said, but I think we can also say that visible program since the summit has been a bit disappointing.  And I say that as a big fan of Sunshine.  I think that Sunshine represented really a fundamental paradigm shift in South Korean attitudes towards the North. 

From looking at it from an ideological perspective, to looking at it in operational terms as an integrated political social economic system, that like it or not, was a reality, that wasn't about to go away any time soon despite the numerous reincarnations of collapse theories, and that somehow had to be dealt with.  I think it's obvious also that only a little while is left for the government of President Kim de Jung.  And I think North Korea has missed or taken advantage of only some of the opportunities presented to it by the Republic of Korea.  I really hope that they don't put everything on hold until the new South Korean government, whoever may head it, settles in.  I hope that the sentiment can continue.

In assessing the North-South relations and looking at prospects for the future, again I think we have to say that it's a mix.  That's the good news however, that it's a mix.  Before it was simply a game of zero sum competitive legitimacy.  Now I think there have been some significant cooperative elements added.  You can look at the two games that are going on now, the World Cup in Seoul ... well, in Korea and Japan ... and the Audion(?) Games in the North.  And the fact that they're the two games points out the competitive nature of it.  And of course this is kind of a test of North Korea, but let's see how it plays out.  That there hasn't been any disruption I think represents the cooperative aspect of things.  And I would agree completely with Ambassador Kim's point about the tale of two seas, war in one, tourism on the other.

Dialogue I think has been a stop and go process, and we should kind of recognize that.  On the North Korean side ... and there are probably some reasons on the South Korean side too, but my topic was North Korea, so I won't go into that ... there seem to be several reasons for this.  One is that there may be genuine disagreements in North Korea about what policy to pursue towards the South, or the timing of things.  You know, I suppose there's a political process even in North Korea.  I don't necessarily buy into the rhetoric completely of the North Korean regime that it's a monolithic system.  I think politics exist, and I think we've seen evidence of that over the years.  So there may be disagreements, that may be one reason for the stop and go nature of the process.  Another is that perhaps, kind of short of outright disagreements, maybe Kim Jung Yu feels the need to ...

(Note:   Questions During Q&A Not On Mike - Best Effort)

JW:      (In Progress) ... for this stop-and-go nature of the process is that ... maybe he's not, I mean, you know, people say he likes to drive fast automobiles and fast speedboats.  But maybe, when it comes to politics and inter-Korean(?) relations, he likes to take things more carefully and go at a more measured pace, a pace that he's comfortable with.  He can't really make a mistake, a major misstep.  Or he could have very, very big problems.  So I think he wants to control the speed at which things develop.  And lastly, I suppose we should add, and North Koreans have claimed this, that they need at least some parallel movement with the United States.  So I suppose from that point of view, their decision to accept a visit by a U.S. negotiator is a good thing. 

Kim Jong Il, I believe, is now personally identified with the summit and with the process of improving relations with the South.  I mean he reaffirmed that identification just a little while ago by hosting the daughter of the late President Pachan Kei(?) ... Paka Hang(?).  And he has a very active campaign of diplomatic outreach, which has been underway for the last few years.  Visits to Russian, visits to China.  Engagement with the EU, etcetera.  My point is that although it's not a certainty, and other factors could overwhelm this consideration, Kim Jong Il(?) has a lot invested in this process right now.  And so for that reason, I think there's a pretty good chance that things will go ahead, although again, in a stop-and-go fashion.  He has something to lose.  He's made some successes and he could lose it. 

North Korea needs, in my opinion, engagement.  I believe that the economy is stabilizing a bit.  But it's at an extremely low level.  And long-term trends are running against North Korea.  It has to jump-start its economy.  And for that, it needs to attract foreign investment.  It needs to open more to the outside world. 

It also needs a degree of stability.  The Europeans and the Russians and others that have dipped their toe into North Korean waters, are going think again if trouble erupts on the Korean peninsula.  And even China may have some second thoughts about doing more than providing a baseline level of assistance, if that were to happen. 

North Korea needs stability for its own reasons.  And I think this is something its policymakers keep in mind.  Again, it's not an absolute but I think it's a new factor in the relationship. 

Lastly, I think ... it's too bad he's gone.  I thought Ambassador Kim Gin Lonn's(?) point about alternative futures.  He is here?  Oh, I missed him.  (Laughter)  Alternative futures.  I'm guess I'm always a political scientist, an ex-academic, so when I hear talk of alternative futures and kind of international systems, and how they change dynamically over time, I get very excited.  So I liked his point about alternative futures for the Korean peninsula.  And clearly there are many, including some negative ones which have been talked about today.  But I think that the heavy tendency ... I would agree with him, that the heavy tendency, and this is my final point, on the peninsula, is probably towards some form of long-term accommodation between North and South Korea.

And I think this will take a number of forms, including perhaps, in the not-so-distant future, infrastructure development projects and perhaps the opening of more special economic zones.  I hope one in…too.  Thank you.

JW:   Dr. Hak-soon?

Pak Hak-soon [PH]:      I think it was in the first panel this morning, and one gentleman sitting, maybe somewhere around in the middle, asked a question of North Korea.  And the chair of the panel, Ambassador…graciously and kindly said…my answers to his question.  But unfortunately, I could not ask the question because it was a shame, but I was too sleepy and not being able to figure out what he was asking, but I'm …he's gone because I'm ready now to answer any questions you ask about North Korea to my best ability.  Anyway.  In my presentation today, I will discuss North Korea's future choices and their impact on inter-Korean relations.  In my presentation paper, I've analyzed  in order to predict North Korea's future choices, I've analyzed the assets and liabilities of Kim Jung, the leader, the policymaker, his goals and visions, his capabilities and resources.  And also structural factors influencing his choices.  And also the critical tending issues between the United States and North Korea, not South Korea and North Korea.  But I have to ... I don't have enough time to elaborate on all of these issues and so I want to skip all of them.  I want to concentrate on North Korea's future probable likely ... the choices it will make in the year 2003, and beyond.  These days when people are talking about the crisis in the year 2002, my…this morning, said that it is a myth, not reality.  I hope it will be a myth but it is much discussed these days.  So that is one of the reasons why Presidential Envoy in the…North Korea.  And persuaded in person Kim Jung Il into making joint effort to avert a potentially dangerous security-related crisis in the Korean peninsula next year. 

But before I go into the concrete North Korea's future choices, I want to talk about two critical choices North Korea made in the past decade as sort of a background information.  North Korea made two critical choices in the past decade.  The first one in…'90s and the second one in the year 2000, in my opinion. 

North Korea took a number of important…just after the Former Soviet Union and the East Central Europeans…were gone in order to ensure the survivability of its system and its regime.  We all remember that during the year between 1991 and '93, North Korea introduced a special economic ... free economic zone in…area and also introduced new trader system.  And in the relations with the United States, we remember … meeting in New York in 1992, and the normalization…Japan.  And also, you know, a joint declaration of nuclear-free Korea.  Membership in the United States with South Korea.  And more than anything else, so-called the … agreements.  Agreements on the reconciliation ... non-aggression and exchanges and cooperation with South Korea. 

But I think North Korea could not implement this critical choices for survival for various reasons.  First of all, North Korea was suffering from siege mentality.  North Korea made those critical decisions because it was necessary to do so ... but they were psychologically not prepared in the absence of former friends and allies.  Of course, China was there ... but  psychologically isolated internationally.  And economically devastated.

And North Korea ... but, you know, and in addition to that, North Korea had to deal with three important totally unexpected ... not all of them, but one of the most…one.  First, nuclear weapons developed in the program.  Was North Korea nuclear weapons developed a program, become a hot issue.  Nobody outside South Korea, Japan, the United States ... nobody was ready to help North Korea.  And so Kim Il Jung... …certainly that year, that month, in the month of ... July '94 but he had to be prepared for a breakthrough in the relationship with this country, South Korea and the United States.  So he prepared.  He was planning a summit meeting with South Korean President Kim Yon Sung(?) and also he reached an agreement with the United States, which was to realize later, an official document as agreed framework between the two countries.                   Well, certainly Kim…died and what do you think Kim…as his successor could do in that situation?  Economically devastated at 400,000 and about 300,000 to 400,000 people starved to death.  And the structural problems in economy.  And so he just maintained a status quo policy.  And he ... concentrating on strengthening his base in the military and in the party. 

And in 1997-8, he successfully strengthened his power base in those two important institutions.  And he resumed implementing the critical choices that North Korea made in the early '90s.  And he…New Year for his own, hoisting the banner of building of a strong and prosperous socialist estate. 

But in order to open a new era for him, he was faced with ... he faced two similar ... two identical problems his father faced before he died in the relations with South Korea and the United States.  So he had to make two critical choices with these two countries.  That year was year 2000, I think, and historic summit talks with South Korea in June 2000 and we all remember reciprocal visits by….Albright to the capital cities of each other. 

And so ... now I want to emphasize at this point that North Korea had kept a quite consistent policy, which was an open end reform, even though they never used such terms, that they made critical choices in series, which helped North Korea go down the road towards reform and opening up.  And so I personally think that next year, I'm quite sure that North Korea will make another critical choice.  But this critical choice will be in line with the first and second critical choices.  No other deviation at all in my opinion.

Kim…is known to have commented that if Al Gore had been elected the President of the United States instead of George W. Bush, the relationship between the two countries would have been ... would not have been as bad as George Bush came to power.  And he's known also to have commented that he was very much disappointed at the attitude shown by the President Bush reviewed in the first summit ... first South Korea…summit in March last year.  And more interestingly enough, Kim…is also known to have commented that even though he had a lot of difficulties in the relations with the United States in the past, after all, there was a solution to the problems in the relationship between the two countries through compromise.  So I don't know but this indicates, in my opinion, that North Korea will be more willing than reluctant in coming to terms with the United States in solving North Korea's weapons of mass destruction and its delivery system, its delivery capabilities.  Two minutes to go. 

I think I have said all of that.  But (Laughs) let me ... I have to skip over all the ...

JW:   Sorry to be so ruthless but ...

PH:   No, no, it's all right.  Let me emphasize, as a student of North Korean politics and also inter-Korean relations, as far as I understand, what North Korea is afraid of is being exposed to the hostile world without any reliable protection.  It is not that North Korea would not make any concessions forever, but that it would make concessions…to show goodwill in good faith.  First of all, at least, simultaneously.  But Chairman Kim..wants is a good negotiation, good exchanges with the United States by which the survival of North Korea can be guaranteed, even if North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, of long-range missile capabilities are given up.  Therefore, it is quite important for the parties concerned to have confidence in the peaceful resolution of crisis in Korea looming in 2003.  Let me stop here.  Thank you very much.

JW:   Thank you very much, Hak-soon.  Now we'll go to Alan Romberg and we'll move to the Great Powers ... and I'm not quite sure which Great Powers Alan's going to talk about.  He has three to choose from.  So.

Alan Romberg [AR]:     Thank you very much.  I am going to talk about all three that are listed on the agenda.  And I will do that briefly, and I'm mainly going to look at the situation as it is now as a basis for looking ahead, rather than trying too much engaging in crystal ball gazing.  Start with Russia.  I apologize to those who are not familiar with American advertising slogans.  But my vision of Russia as a player on Korea is either as the Energizer Bunny just keeps going and going and going, or as the Avis(?) who is trying to catch up with the party in first place, and so tries harder.  It has had a major effort underway now for sometimes.  We've seen Putin ... Pyongyang(?), Kim Jung Il in Moscow.  Putin has again committed to going back to Pyongyang next year.  We've had foreign ministers and other high-level visits, political statements, which talk about the exceptional significance that Moscow attaches to the North Korean relationship. 

Trade is only a $115 million to a ... annually at this point, but there are agreements which are being worked on about refurbishing the 70 or so plants that the Soviets built.  Mainly energy related, no great surprise there.  Be it in oil refineries or provision of coal, or even talk of building a nuclear reactor, a power plant, near the border area.  And so on.  Even a scheduled flight now reportedly exists twice a week between Habaras(?) and Pyongyang(?) as it exists between Beijing and Pyongyang. 

On security issues, of course, there was the important offer to launch satellites on Russian rockets in connection with the moratorium.  There was a new agreement in April on cooperation and defense, the military hardware, and on development of military cooperation in general.  And, of course, Russia has tried to play a role on promoting North-South relations and U.S.-North Korean relations.  This has been, I think, a long-standing Soviet, now Russian ambition to lay at the table. 

But I think the results have been questionable so far.  Yes, bilaterally, they talk about each other in very favorable terms.  A lot of praise but I don't see a lot of substance so far.  Economic links haven't amounted to too much.  Military links we'll see ... mainly I think the motivation for Russia was to regain a toe-hold in Peyong(?) to monitor what was going on, have some influence over what was going on and to recoup some of the losses since the 1990.  And the Soviets, again, before them ... tried to play this bridging role between Asia and Europe.  I just don't think it has much traction.  And I think that Russia's main interests, despite Putin's enthusiasm, for it, still lie in Europe.  Let me put that out there to provoke some response. 

On Japan, Japan was an enormous potential role on the peninsula and, of course, it has a crucial role both as a U.S. ally in looking at the military side as an important partner in KATO(?) and in the trilateral, so-called T-cog(?) coordinating group.  But bilaterally, again, looking at North Korea, there are real problems.  Although there have been some signs of return to normalization talks, which have been in abeyance ... Mr. Kawashima(?) can correct me, but I think that they had been suspended essentially have not resumed for a whole bunch of mainly political reasons.  Japan is, if I may put it this way, stuck on the abductees issue.  North Korea talks about the missing, of course.  And that political problem is compounded by the long-term concern about North Korea's military threat, especially missiles, of course.  And the recent, that is last December, an ongoing issue of the mystery ship, which sits at the bottom of the sea in the Chinese exclusive economic zone. 

We've seen a lot of negativity grow up recently even in the diet, in the media.  Mestishihara(?) made some rather provocative negative statements.  And North Korea, for its part, seems unwilling to be terribly flexible to beg, or to indulge, and it prefers to indulge in historical animosities. 

There were Red Cross talks in late April, which were deemed quite successful.  Agreement to resume on North Korea's part a search for the missing.  But parties on both sides, officials on both sides, cautioned about how progress was going to be dependent on certain things.  The Korean foreign ministry and foreign minister said if Tokyo treats the history of Korean-Japanese relations objectively and justfully ... that's a Russian translation ... if it invests in the development of our economy, that will exert a positive influence on contacts.  Only in such conditions can the burning issues be solved. 

The lower-level official talked about Japan reflecting on the crimes and evils that were done.  Not exactly likely to cause Japan to think in positive terms.  And the Japanese government was quite forthcoming in saying that progress would depend on the abduction issue.  Japan has suspended its humanitarian food aid, as we've talked about earlier today, and the Japanese ... North Korean criticize them in Rome, and the Japanese foreign minister has, within the last 24 hours, asked again for help from the U.S. on the abductee issue, to which I think the suspension of food aid is basically tough.

Time is short, and I want to turn to China.  But just let me note that a new group has formed in the diet on North Korea.  It is not one of these groups that is favorably inclined towards the country it is formed around.  It is a very negative group, hardline, even putting pressure to stop remittances from overseas Koreans living in Japan, which would be a real hit on the North Korean economy.  As one recent visitor to Japan put it, the public mood against the totalitarian state has hardened.  Japan's relations with North Korea, which up to now have been sensitive to upsetting the North Koreans are not going to be the same anymore. 

Finally, on China.  Clearly of the three players, I'm discussing China is the most involved, and at this stage of the game, the most important.  It has picked up a fair amount of the slack, which was created when the Soviet Union collapsed in terms of food and fuel supply.  It's worked hard to maintain positive relations with North Korea, even as it has developed robust and far more important relations with South Korea.  And China would prefer to see, as was discussed earlier, the continuation of a viable, non-chaotic, peaceful and non-nuclear DPRK and peninsula. 

One of the recent challenges, of course, has to do with the asylum seekers and how China has behaved in this respect.  I find it interesting that…in a recent conversation with Japanese visitors said, "We have not forced anybody to go back against their will."  And all I can do is see that.  And China has been cooperative on the high profile cases in doing this quietly and letting somewhere between 40 and 50 go on to other countries.  Of course, there also has been a round-up and a crack-down in the Northeast so the truth about their benevolence and humanitarian approach probably lies someplace between good and bad.

But China feels particularly challenged by the way these refugees are being used, as was discussed earlier, for publicity purposes and to put pressure on North Korea.  It's China, which among others, is most feeling that pressure.  And that makes it harder for them to deal with the refugees and the humanitarian way and still keep good relations with Pyongyang(?).  It's obviously caused a rift with Japan.  Tensions arising with our Congress, which is now passing resolutions.  And within the 21st ... excuse me, within the last 24 hours, as was raised this morning, the Chinese police went into a Japanese consulate in Beijing and yanked out one of two North Koreans who had gotten into the consulate. 

 Beijing has asked that all quote "trespassers be turned over to them."  And South Korea, among others, has said they may be willing to do this but they want some assurance about how these folks are going to be handled.  And so I think that if China can give some assurances, which is very hard for them to do, in their political situation, maybe this can be handled in a nuanced way.  One has to say that for all the justified complaints about how China has handled these folks, the public pressures that are being exerted on China at this point probably makes it harder for China to be accommodating rather than easier.  It doesn't mean that people aren't right to criticize them.  It doesn't mean that the pressure will stop.  But I think it does mean that it will make it difficult to see this handled well.

Overall, I believe, going back to the question raised earlier, that China has been, if frustratingly opaque, nonetheless, quite constructive in dealing with North Korea.  And it has clearly helped in times of crisis to bring North Korea around to do the necessary.  How this is going to evolve in the future in light of the rehardening of attitudes among all the partners, U.S., Japan, and South Korea perhaps is to be seen.  Also other issues on the agenda.  Issues ranging from the Taiwan question to Iraq, I think, will have some bearing on how China looks at its cooperation on North Korea.  I agree with what was said earlier.  They have fundamental interests on the peninsula.  Nonetheless, I don't think we can exclude the possibility that at least the way they handle their role in Korea will be affected by how some of their other interests are handled. 

Finally, one point on unification.  You know, it's been traditional for everybody to say that nobody, none of the outside powers, really favors Korean unification.  U.S., Japan, China or Russia.  I certainly feel from the U.S. point of view that is not a correct statement.  And there's an assumption there that any unification would be on basically South Korean terms.  I think it is probably more true of the other three powers, the ones I've been discussing.  But I don't think anybody is really going to get in the business of obstructing reunification, and I think all would support it if it were to take place.  Now we're talking about the distant future.      But the process as well.  It seems to me that nobody's going to want to be viewed as an obstructionist in the inter-Korean dealings.  Why I don't stop here.

JW:   Thank you, Alan.  And last, but not least, Larry will talk about the United States.

Larry Wortzel [LW]:      Thank you very much.  Thank you for having me.  I'm sorry to keep you all from your beer.  I think I'd like to start by perhaps getting….  Heritage Foundation sponsored the lunch where he spoke here in Washington.  Now I'd like to invite everybody to go back.  I think it was May 1999 ... we've been having kind of a side discussion ... to candidate Governor Bush's first Citadel speech.  Was it May 23rd?  Was that the date?  Do you remember, Dixie?  It could have been July.  But if you read that speech ... re-read that speech.  Maybe he didn't read it the first time.  I just re-read it.  You will find in that speech all of the elements and all of the words of the Axis of Evil speech in the State of the Union address.  So it wasn't…Chang, it's been the consistent position, I think, to the extent it formed a party platform that when that Republican Party went out in August, I think it's been the consistent platform certainly the President of the United States.  And you would look at me ... I was an idiot if I said I'm really pleased to be here at the Nixon Center in this wonderful green room.  Because this isn't the Nixon Center.  And the room's not green.

 So one of the things that I think the United States can, and should, do ... and that I give the President great credit for doing is to simply be principled and be firm and tell the truth.  Tell the truth about what it is.  Now when he did that ... and does that, when the United States does that as a policy, it, in fact, it hasn't withheld aid.  The United States just increased food aid through the World Food Program.  But he told the truth.  Since the Axis-of-Evil speech, North Korea agreed to meet with the Japanese Red Cross.  There was another separation, another reunion of separated family members.  And ministerial talks between the North and South have taken place.  Plus, KATO(?) delegations have gone back and forth.  It's very important to look at what's resulted from just telling the truth.  The resolution that the Congress passed ... it was 409…the House of Representatives passed on North Korean refugees, cites another ... what is it, missing personnel, is that the term we're using? 

JW:   Yes.

LW:   When I go to Japan, I meet with these tragic families of the 17 kidnapped people, or missing people.  But now the Congress of the United States, in its resolutions, has talked about Reverend Kim Dong Shik(?) who disappeared in China allegedly abducted by North Korean agents in January 2000.  I don't think that the United States should ignore that.  Just like I don't think I should call this a green room, or the Nixon Center.  So the United States really, in my view, has three roles.  Be a supportive partner.  Engage in honest dialogue and tell the truth.  And stick to some firm principles.  John talked about infrastructure.  I think there are some firm principles and some influence that the United States could have in infrastructure development.  North Korea and Russia have both approached Japan and South Korea to help finance a Western rail line.  That would help trade from the south up to Russia.  The eastern rail line would help trade with China. 

 The east coast rail line would go up and assist Russia.  And I think the United States, if it has any role to play, ought to be saying to Japan, "Don't put a penny into the east coast rail line until North Korea meets its own commitments on the western rail line and the transportation card.  Don't throw good money after bad.  Just stick to a few principles.  I think that's a role that the United States could have.  And I think it's a good role.  Stop the extortion. 

Power generation.  I think that today, you can help, but the United States ought to begin focusing on the power grid.  And the problems of the power grid up there in North Korea because the North knows it won't accept whatever power may be provided through any means and distribute it around the country.  And the United States focuses son the sunshine policy, I think the United States has to emphasize the very positive potential and results from the fact that I think there's (sic) over 400 small and medium South Korean enterprises manufacturing in the north and shipping goods back to the south.  That means that there's over 400 business owners that are looking some Communist official in the eye and saying, "I'm not gonna do that.  I can't make any money doing it like that.  This is the price I'll pay,  or this is what we'll do ... or it's not profitable for me."  Teaching profit and loss.  That, for me, is the most positive result of the sunshine policy and I think we should point it out every time.

 And it's resulted in visits by American and European shipping lines to ports to talk about opening up container facilities.  The other role the United States could play is to say, "Don't pay for that.  If North Korea wants to do that, it ought to put a little less money into the artillery battalions on the demilitarized zone and take some of that money and put it into a container facility in a port."  So I think that's a useful role for the United States.  And with respect to firmness, I think that the United States needs to continue to insist that the north resolve problems without resorting to force or threats of force.  That it abandon terrorism and kidnapping and shielding terrorists as part of its foreign policy, that it end the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means.  That it stop systematically starving its own population.  That it could publicly denounce terrorism.  And address the kidnappings that are going on.  So I think the United States has as very important role to play.  I think it's played a supportive role.  I'm very happy with the role that the Bush Administration has played so far.  Because nobody's calling the room green.  And nobody's saying we're at the Nixon Center.  We're willing to talk but we're going to do it realistically.  I'll leave it at that.

 JW:   Thanks, Larry.  I didn't even have to pass you another note.  Gee, thanks a lot.  I think what we'll do is rather than talk among ourselves, I'm just going to open up the floor for questions and for those of you who have any questions and I don't see any hands going up, so (Laughs) if no one has questions, I can ask them.  I can start asking some questions.  Always be prepared.  John, both you and Hak-soon seem to have a pretty benign view of 2003 and, you know, about all the speculation about a year of crisis.  And you both seem to feel that it's not going to be a year of crisis.  And I don't know whether I'm misrepresenting what you're saying but ... if that is what you believe, what do you think would change that?  What could precipitate a crisis in 2003?  Let's start with John first.

 JM:    Well, yeah, there have been noises about 2003 being a problem year for obvious reasons.  You're going to have a new administration in South Korea.  The missile moratorium runs out sometimes in 2003, whether it's January 1st or at the end of the year.  And the North Koreans have ... we had a notional date, I guess it was mentioned before the completion of the LWR project, and they're taking it as a firm date ... 2003.  But I think you have to look at what's in there in their interest.  And I just would agree with Professor Pak about ... that North Korea, it may get offtrack but it always seems to get back on this line.  Or so far has.  I don't think there's anything inevitable about that.  But again, I think when you look at it long term, it's pretty remarkable and I would agree with the historical outline that he had mentioned. 

I would pick up on Larry's point too that I think that the North Korean economy is in bad shape.  I think that there are a lot of economic possibilities.  I think this is kind of a new dimension that he's mentioned to engagement that is perhaps a little bit different than the exclusive focus on strategic systems in the past. 

And I think it's in everyone's interest to move in a positive direction rather than the direction of confrontation.  As I said in my remarks, I think that the north has a lot to lose from that.  That isn't to say that they might not revert to that type of behavior.  But I think it's something that they would do ... only after an awful lot of thinking.  And I think that the sunshine policy, as Ambassador Kim has mentioned, has provided for a degree of crisis stability on the peninsula.  And my understanding is that there's a consensus in South Korea that this policy should be continued although the implementation of it may very well be different than it has been under the Kim…administration. 

H:  In addition to what John said, let me add one or two points.  My prediction that North Korea will be more likely to make concessions in coming to terms with the United States…this problem, security-related problem next year, does not necessarily mean that we should demand nuclear concessions unilaterally.  North Korea…concessions not the reciprocating on our side.  And the United States and South Korea together.  Yes, I believe North Korea is ready to talk and ready to come to terms with the problem if certain conditions are met.  The conditions being a secured economy, a recovered economy, guaranteed in exchange for something we can offer to North Korea to make North Korea be a little more confident in its future survival and development.  But one interesting thing.  What happened in the relationship with South Korea, even though many people have talked about disappointment, that North Korea showed in implementing ... in not implementing the agreement reached through special envoys…. But North Korea recently notified South Korea of the discharging of water from the ... what do you call that ... so-called power plant embankment of…power plant.  We South Koreans call it (Inaudible).  In order to relieve South Korea's worry that the potential collapse of that unsafe dam will cause a serious damage to South Koreans… in the relationship between the two Koreas.

 JW:   Any questions?  Okay, Bob?

[Audience]:          For Larry… responsible for a lot of…You can say to the North Koreans…really would…behavior, all that, but I think it's going to be very difficult…when it makes..30 percent (Inaudible)… pretty large number.  So what can you do about it?  North Korea has done us a lot of damage but it can do a lot more if you transfer…stage…and missile technology to Iraq(?) for example.  And that would really be (Inaudible).  How do we dissuade…I think….and so forth…ways but my sense is to stop (Inaudible).  You know…providing (Inaudible) shouldn't do it but…So what do you do?  And, you know, would you favor (Inaudible) out the (Inaudible) when there are other (Inaudible)  Every single one of them in advance about it.  But if you say we can't move on the missile export…until we have…progress or human rights, or something, you know, you're not going to be able to move very far. So what do you do with that?  What would you do?

 LW:   I really was part of the cooperative sort of threat reduction thing that went on under Nunn-Lugar with the Russians.  It started out with a great deal of mistrust.  I can remember going into a Pershing II destruction site at some little bar.  I mean in a little bar ... a little town in Texas with one bar.  And I walked in and the waitress said, "Would you be part of the surveillance team, the verification team, or the escort team?"  I said, "I'd be one of those surveillance guys."  She said, "Go to that side of the bar.  You people sit over there."  So it took a long time but there was real verification on that program.  That's the key to it all.  And again, that's one of the things that I like about the current policy.  There has to be verification.  There has to be some transparency.  I have no problem with a Nunn-Lugar like approach to proliferation of new missiles.  But you have to be able to see it.  You have to be able to look at what's going on.  And if you can't have verification from the IAE on a reactor, (Laughs) it's hard to move forward.  So I don't know that you can separate it, Bob.  I mean you've reached the point of almost getting there, I think, yourself.  So you know that better than I do.  I would not sit here and just say, "Not another penny.  No way."  I'd say, "Well, fine.  If we can pay you for taking that stuff apart, and destroy it. Great.  But let us... paying for it.  Let's not end up where we are with Iraq today. 

  JW:   Any other questions from the floor?  In the back there?

 [Audience]:          Propaganda….on different (Inaudible)…between the U.S., Japan, and China and South Korea (Inaudible). 

LW:   I'm not going to talk directly about what was said off the record here earlier.  But I'll address the issue.  I think in terms of ... first of all, in terms of China, I'm not sure that I see much potential for hooking it all up together.  I think that China has, generally speaking, one or two operate on a bilateral basis, even, let's say, to Afghanistan is on a bilateral basis, and not in the larger context.  So I think that if we consider maintaining stability and not allowing chaos in North Korea to be a good thing, we obviously welcome that continuing role ... although we shouldn't have illusions that it's being done for other than China's own national interest purposes.  Humanitarian is part of it.  But so there are other parts of it as well.  On Japan, I mean my sense is that it is going to be in what I call the Japanese sense of the word, or term, very difficult (Laughs) to get Japan to politically, over the obstacles that now exist.  I don't say it's forever, but right now it just seems to me that there is not the political will to do that.  Would I think ... do I personally think it would be a good thing if Japan were to do this from a strategic as well as humanitarian point of view?  Yes, I do.  And I think that that case can be made but it's obvious that the U.S. government is not going to go around trying to twist the arms of other countries who have other considerations when those other considerations are as overwhelming as they may be in the case of Japan.  But sure, I think it would be a good thing.  I think that letting the food situation get out of hand in North Korea, not only for humanitarian but as I say, also for strategic, that is, peace and stability reasons, would be a good thing.  Not letting it get out of hand would be a good thing.

  JW:   Yes, Hazel?

  [Audience]:          (Inaudible)

 JW:   Well, Hazel, that gets into the area of policy.  (Laughter)  But maybe I can just echo some of what I think I heard Larry say, which is maybe it's not a good idea to give North Korea special treatment.  But maybe if there are precedents and they're willing to do straight-up business like dealing, why not?  And perhaps if Larry's view of ... with Larry's view, you could encourage those elements.  But yeah, I agree with you completely.  There are these ... you can see in the North Korean media, if you look over a span of a few years, very different views on some policy issues.  It doesn't track with this idea of total monolith.  I mean they have to make policy so there must be debates internally.  And I think I would agree with your characterization of the two ministries that you mentioned.  I remember, at the time of the summit ... as I recall ... what day of the week was it, Ambassador Kim, when the summit was held?  Do you remember?  I think it was towards the weekend.  Or maybe on the weekend.  And I remember people here were saying, "Oh, this is a non-event because North Korean's public has not been told anything about it."  In fact, there was even a seminar around town where that view was espoused.  And I said, "Well, wait and see what happens."  Well, sure enough, within a day or two, we had, in prime time, one hour North…TV broadcasts of the entire event.  And then they followed it up the next night with another broadcast.  And I've noticed the same thing in my more limited trips around North Korea.  And I still remember once in Pyongyang, in the lobby of the Korea Hotel, that our North Korean guide was meeting us in the bar and he looked in amazement at something and I ... "What are you looking at?"  And he said, "That's a Samsung TV set."  And sure enough, there it was in all its glory, about a 35-inch big Samsung, you know, bright and shiny label.  And so, yeah.  I think you're right on both counts that there are elements in North Korea that have something invested in opening an engagement.  And that there is some degree of awareness among the North Korean public at the grass-roots level that things have happened.

M:      I suppose the most difficult thing is to try to understand North Korea because North Korea has been a closed society.  I think the most closed, one of the most closed societies that exists on this earth for more than half a century.  To expect that kind of society to think and behave as us ... normal, who follows the international, I think is extremely demanding, to say the least.  I'm not trying to excuse or to speak on behalf of North Korea.  I'm just trying to say that if we want North Korea to become a normal country, a normal society, then certainly it needs time to be able to understand what it means to be normal.  I mean we assume that North Korea should respond and react and be practical and…and understand all the things that we take for granted.  But that is not the case.  And that's the most difficult thing, I think, for people outside of North Korea to understand, especially living in a society like the U.S. where it's a melting pot.  It's ... I mean ... the center of the world in a sense.  And then you judge, or you assess North Korea in your point of view, in your most sophisticated point of view.  And that, I think, is too much.  We've just begun.  I mean North Korea ... the summit two years on.  Even before the day that the summit took place, South Koreans believed that this would not happen.  Now two years on, after the summit, we say, "Ah, the expectation or the results, of that, or North Korean, in response, or it's not satisfactory."  Of course not.  I hope that no one assumes that sort of process of confidence building, or process of a country, or a regime like, a society like North Korea, to become immediately sort of engaged and a part of the so-called international society, just cannot happen. 

If you look at countries like even Burma, for instance, I'm sure that people who traveled to Burma will see the kind of naivete of the people in Burma who lacks the understanding, because it has been closed for so long.  And the only thing that we can hope to gain, or to try to have North Korea become a more sort of predictable and acceptable member of the international community is to try to continuously tell North Korea that it is in the interest of North Korea to be a part of this. 

But I'm not going to try to become a partisan sort of divider because when the summit took place in 2000 and the following sort of events that took place, the visit of…to Washington, and then Albright's visit to North Korea, everything seemed to be moving in a very positive direction.  Then it's not the fault of anyone but this turn for the worse, unfortunately.  So that is where we are.  That doesn't mean that we should take the pessimistic view that this is ... nothing's working ... getting back ... someone said that it's sort of a one step forward and two steps backwards, to steps forward and one step backward kind of process.  It's going to take some time.  Maybe longer than we hope.  But we should be patient.  Because we know that there is a genuine possibility that we can resolve the problems that we have with North Korea through peaceful means.  But if we push them into a corner, if we continue to pressure them to behave and show that they're genuine and all this, in a very short…they will react.  They will be ... they who feel very pressured, even persecuted, even victimized.  I don't think that is a good option.

M:      I'd just like to underscore one thing.  I think when you talk about North Korea being closed, or let's put it the other way, not an open system, that there are degrees of openness.  And I think it's ... I'm not saying Ambassador Kim was saying this, but many people in the past have had this view.  It's not a modern-day version of the hermit kingdom.  It's not tightly or hermetically sealed.  For example, there's a large Korean community in Japan that was mentioned earlier today in the context of remittances.  Those Koreans, many of them belong to Chosensoran(?).  They have North Korean citizenship.  They go back and forth all the time.  If you go to the Korea Hotel in downtown Pyongyang, you can see whole tour groups of them swarming in.  There were a 100,000 or so Korean residents of Japan.  It's amazing but the only reverse migration that I'm aware of in history to a communist state in the '60s and '70s, I believe. 

My wife was recently in Beijing at a conference on the North Korean economy.  And at night, it just happened that the folks went out and they went to a North Korean noodle house and enjoyed… in Beijing.  And the place was swarming with North Korean students carrying their bicycles in and out.  So North Korean businessmen.  There obviously, as Ambassador Einhorn mentioned, North Korean arms salesmen roaming around the world.  Diplomats.  (Laughter) 

So I don't know that I certainly have never done it.  I've not mapped out the degree of openness.  But what you hope for is a trend over time of greater openness, dispatched again overseas of the students that were pulled back following the collapse of the former Soviet Union and East Europe.  And I think that process is slowly beginning. 

JW:   I think what we'll do ... we're going to end this panel in a very innovative way because a member of the panel wants to ask a member of the audience a question.  Larry wants to ask Hazel a question.  So we'll do that. 

LW:   Hazel, you seemed to have had a privilege that I've been denied and that's to travel a lot around North Korea.  And you mentioned having gone into these hotels and seeing these pictures and framed that as sort of an expression of a desire to open by Kim….  And John, of course, just talked about these wonderful TV broadcasts on North Korean TV.  So I wanted to ask how many North Korean citizens can freely go into that hotel and take a look at that picture?  And how many TV antennas did you see on average people's houses to watch these broadcasts?  Because in a very sort of cynical way, I'm suggesting that what you saw and what he saw is really a wonderful combination of a propaganda effort to convince all the foreigners in there, and all the people watching TV down in South Korea and Japan, that there's this openness.  In the end, there's not much of an investment of person in that because nobody sees it.  I don't know because ... I know in China, you know, when I went over there, and I went into a hotel, people that tried to visit, the average citizens have tried to visit that hotel got beaten up and taken away. 

JW:   Hazel, why don't you go ahead and very quickly ... we're almost out of time, so one answer and then we're going to wrap it up.

[Audience]:          (Inaudible) 

  LW:   Oh, okay.  But not the average villager wants to come in ...

M:      Okay, I think I'm just going to have to end here.  It's 6 o'clock and I don't want to run over our time. Thank you very much for coming today.  (Applause)  And I appreciate your staying this long throughout the day.  Thank you.

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