Forum explores resolutions for Korean Peninsula
A series of high-profile dignitaries and experts familiar with North Korean affairs attended the meeting held at the Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel, central Seoul, with the theme of “Kim Jong-un’s gamble and the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.”
Participants at the conference attended three sessions: “Whither Kim Jong-un’s North Korea” in the morning, “Will a peace formula work?” and “Forecasting a positive track for the region” in the afternoon.
Richard G. Lugar, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, delivered a keynote address at the meeting, known for the so-called “Nunn-Lugar Program” that effectively deactivated more than 7,500 nuclear warheads remaining in the former Soviet Union countries.
“I believe President Park [Geun-hye]’s posture toward the North, clearly stated while she visited Washington, is an excellent starting point that deserves U.S. support,” Lugar said. “I believe there is an opportunity for South Korea to create new criteria through which constructive engagement with the North can occur.”
When it comes to the bellicose rhetoric and warlike language from Pyongyang against Seoul and Washington, Lugar said, “American officials should not overreact to every North Korean provocation, reward bad behavior, or float proposals that have no possibility of success.”
Lugar also mentioned President Park’s so-called “trustpolitik,” urging American politicians to support it.
“The United States should fully support the South Korean trust-building program and reduce rhetoric aimed at the North, while continually making clear U.S. security guarantees and the cohesiveness of the U.S.-ROK alliance,” he said. “The Obama Administration should be sober about what can be accomplished in the short run. But it must be willing to consider a wider range of strategies, even if they carry some risk.”
Hong Seok-hyun, chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and JTBC, said in his opening speech that “Major North Korea issues should be approached comprehensively and holistically without being preoccupied by any single agenda item such as denuclearization, peace or normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States.”
“In order to get out of the current impasse and re-engage North Korea, a peace regime and normalization of relations may well be offered to Pyongyang in a sincere manner,” Hong said. “But in doing so, we should not lose sight of denuclearization.”
John J. Hamre, president and CEO, and the Pritzker chair of the CSIS, said in his welcoming remarks that the threats from North Korea rather brought neighboring countries and Washington into closer cooperation, isolating North Korea.
“We all have watched with some alarm the erratic and dangerous posturing of North Korea this past year,” he said. “North Korea’s behavior has contributed directly to its isolation in the world community of nations.”
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se also appeared at the forum as a special guest and gave an address at the luncheon. He said North Korea appears to be taking a big risk.
“North Korea is even using the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the symbol of the 10-year-long inter-Korean cooperation, for their dangerous gamble,” Yun said. “There is also a concern among experts that the hard-line [policies] of North Korea could be sustained longer than expected, due to the internal factors of the Kim Jong-un regime.”
Still, Yun put his emphasis on President Park’s so-called trust-building process.
“The trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula and the peaceful cooperation of Northeast Asia is for opening the era of happiness to turn the relationship of distrust and confrontation into one of trust and cooperation,” Yun said. “In the upcoming future, President Park Geun-hye will visit China and have her first summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, expected to bring a meaningful achievement regarding policies for North Korean affairs, including the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula.”
By Kim Hee-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]