An unfinished job

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An unfinished job

The Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, ended over the weekend with President Moon Jae-in making a successful debut for his first multipartite diplomacy. Four days before the summit, North Korea provoked the international community with its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch. At the summit, Moon proposed his Korean Peninsula Peace Initiative, including ways for international society to react to the North’s mounting nuclear threats toward the ultimate goal of denuclearization. Participants of the meeting shared the recognition that North Korea has emerged as a real threat to world peace.

At the summit, Moon showed a noticeable change in his perception of North Korea. He urged members of the G-20 to help stop the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang from making additional nuclear and missile provocations by putting more pressure and levying tougher sanctions on the regime. He also outlined a joint statement against North Korea with the United States and Japan.

It is fortunate that Moon took a realistic stance on reinforcing international cooperation in the face of the North’s unceasing provocations. The military and government follows their commander in chief as long as he maintains an unequivocal attitude toward the nuclear threat and reacts to danger.

But the G-20 members failed to come up with a joint plan to address the North’s nuclear and ICBM threats, which critically endanger the security of the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, their “devaluation” of the North’s ICBM as an ICRM, or inter-continental range missile, laid bare the complexities of the Gordian knot that is international diplomacy.

It is an alarming sign that a new hostile current — reminiscent of the Cold War half century ago — appears to have emerged between the Seoul-Washington-Tokyo front and the Pyongyang-Beijing-Moscow front following the summit. Despite the North’s firing of an ICBM, Chinese President Xi Jinping called North Korea a “blood ally,” while the UN Security Council was not able to issue a joint statement denouncing the provocation due to Russia’s opposition.

Our government must let the international community understand its peace initiative vis-à-vis the North. It is time for Moon to focus on resolving the nuclear crisis, while pressuring Pyongyang and at the same time encouraging China to join the effort.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 10, Page 30
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