Kim Jong-il’s Intentions Questionable

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Kim Jong-il’s Intentions Questionable

The sincerity behind comments made by North Korean National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il to revise the Workers' Party Pact, the theoretical foundation of policies toward South Korea, is questionable.

The North Korean Workers' Party Pact clearly states the immediate goal of the party: "Completing the revolutionary tasks of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as the liberation of the nation." The pact also pledges to "drive out U.S. imperialist forces from South Korea" and "support the struggles of the democratization of the South Korean people and society in full scale," in order to accomplish an independent reunification.

The revision of the pact, not only signifies the entire correction of North Korea's strategy toward South Korea, but also hints at principle changes in North Korea’s ideological system.

It’s now known that Kim Jong-il suggested at the recent summit talks that South Korea abandon its National Security Laws, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung responded by raising the issue of the Workers' Party Pact. It was also reported that on Kim Dae-jung’s response, Chairman Kim “agreed” and said that South Korea should "revise the National Security Laws, in return for revisions in the pact."

It’s difficult to confirm Kim Jong-il’s intentions on the proposal. It is a possibility that the North Korean leader simply mentioned the item in passing, without conviction. It is also possible that Chairman Kim was emphasizing the conditions that would have to precede a revision of his party’s pact. Optimists could interpret Chairman Kim's comment as a hint at broad changes to come in the Stalinist state.

North Korea has not shown any response to reports coming out of South Korea related to the issue. However, the Korean Central Broadcasting Station continued to broadcast on June 21 communist party rhetoric: “The people’s trust in socialism is a powerful weapon in conquering capitalism."

In fact, a meeting of the party assembly, which has not been called for twenty years since the sixth session in 1980, would be necessary to revise the Workers' Party Pact. It’s unclear when, if ever, the assembly will meet. Moreover, it’s not easy, even for Chairman Kim, for one man to determine the revision of the party pact.

Some see Kim Jong-il’s statement as a suggestion to revise the South’s National Security Laws. Others interpret the comment as an intentional move by the chairman to raise hope for a peaceful state on the peninsula. If all of the above are true, the revision of National Security Laws is an issue that should proceed while closely observing the true intentions of North Korea.

The government must answer some questions: Was Chairman Kim accurately quoted, and if so was he sincere?

It’s important to obtain the government's explanation, since the issue could be an important variable that could change the keynote in our policy toward North Korea. Since the dialogue of the summit has already been widely reported over the press, details must not be concealed to the public.

If the issues related to the revision of the Workers' Party Pact and the repeal of the South’s National Security Laws are to be discussed as an official topic of talks between South and North Korea, it would be a decisive turning point in removing obstacles and in organizing a framework of co-existence.

by Shin Ye-ri

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