[GLOBAL EYE]Kim Jong-il ponders 2004Although South Korea is struggling with the tasks of economic stability and political reform, the North is opening a new year filled with even harder tasks than ours and will probably continue to walk a trail of tears.
Pyeongyang might feel that the time has come to seriously consider the chances of maintaining its system, despite its own analysis and propaganda that its leadership is strongly supported by the staunch allegiance of workers and peasants to the Dear Leader. What are the New Year’s worries and plans of Mr. Kim, the chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission?
I conjured up an imaginary monologue by Mr. Kim based on the circumstances in which he now finds himself.
“I cannot get over the shock from the end of last year. How could Saddam Hussein be reduced to such circumstances so easily? How could Moammar Qaddafi, who bought weapons from us in no small quantities, give them all up so easily? I cannot believe how they could pretend to be the leaders of Iraq and Libya.
“Well, they probably had no choice. They have openly boasted of possessing nuclear and biochemical weapons and challenged the United States to a showdown. But even though they talked the talk, they couldn’t walk the walk.
“At least I won’t be reduced to that. I will never risk the fate of the republic. After all, the Great Leader established this country and protected it for over five decades, fighting against foreign powers.
“Where does our power come from? North Korea has the determination of the people, who are solidly unified under the slogan of “A Powerful and Grand Nation.” On top of that, we have nuclear weapons. As long as we have those weapons, even the United States cannot ignore us, right?
“I have never actually used the weapons, so I am not so sure how effective they are and whether they would work properly when I needed them. But Washington has recognized our nuclear capability, so they are serving their purpose well for the time being. And when an opportunity arises, we can also exploit our new weapons development project using highly enriched uranium. At any rate, I will not tolerate anyone looking down on us. I will not suffer insults lying down.
“The United States is supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world. So why is the sole superpower being so difficult toward us? I promised that we would freeze our nuclear activity, stop the experiments and not export nuclear arms. In return, I asked for a guarantee of our system and a little economic help. But Washington is being so stingy.
“The White House must know there is no leader in the world more trustworthy than I am. Washington should not push and corner me like this unless it wants to upset me on purpose. Anyhow, I need to put myself together and stay alert.
“The U.S. presidential election is scheduled toward the end of 2004, so I was hoping I could buy some time if President George W. Bush was not reelected and a less formidable Democrat comes into the White House. But recent reports say that there is nearly no chance for that favorable scenario. It looks like I will have to face Mr. Bush in the showdown.
“We had already discussed and concluded the nuclear issues in the 1994 Agreed Framework in Geneva during the Clinton administration. Washington seems to claim that we are not honoring the agreement. But Robert Gallucci, the chief negotiator on the U.S. side during the 1994 nuclear crisis, admitted later that the United States had thought it would not need to respect its promise because North Korea would not last long. If I were so naive as to trust the cunning partner and had not developed the means to protect the republic, would my father not be disappointed in me?
“Take a look around the world. Thanks to the “neither confirm nor deny” tactic on its nuclear weapons, Israel manages its own existence without being overwhelmed by the surrounding Arab nations.
“We have helped Pakistan build missiles. When Pakistan said publicly that it was armed with nuclear weapons and confronted the United States, Washington had to recognize its status. That is what Washington does. If you look vulnerable, the United States will ignore you. But Washington will negotiate with a real nuisance.
“Then again, I wonder if we can get past this year quietly. June will be the crucial point. By that time, I will have a better forecast of the re-election possibilities for Mr. Bush and the legislative elections in the South will be over. Then I will have a general picture for the rest of the year.
“It looks like our comrades in the South will not side with the United States and oppose us. China is increasingly cold to us, but I think we can find a way to please Beijing somehow. Then, I will settle the nuclear issue by agreeing on a package deal through which I might be able to win the economic aid we desperately need. Well, inspections of nuclear facilities will take time, so it is never a losing game to accept help. At this juncture, I need my father’s wisdom.”
And so the nuclear puzzle begins all over again.
* The writer is an editorial writer and director of the JoongAng Ilbo Unification Research Institute.
by Kil Jeong-woo