Time for a creative proposalPresident Moon Jae-in will have a third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday. It is the first time for Moon to visit Pyongyang for a summit. As Moon will be staying in the North for three days and two nights — compared to his previous two summits that lasted less than a day — he can have straightforward talks with Kim. The new inter-Korean summit is attracting keen attention from within the two Koreas and the rest of the world.
We have high expectations for Moon’s trip to Pyongyang as it can help break a deadlock on the denuclearization front. Despite the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in Singapore, the dialogue for denuclearization between Washington and Pyongyang is in a stalemate due to an ongoing dispute over which should come first: concrete actions to denuclearize or a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War. Therefore, Moon’s success in this summit hinges on how effectively he can mediate between America and North Korea to resolve their disagreement over priorities.
We hope Moon presents a creative denuclearization proposal to Kim so that he can be persuaded to faithfully implement it in exchange for Uncle Sam joining a declaration to officially end the war. Moon must keep in mind that simply a verbal pledge by Kim to denuclearize or the North’s act of destroying nuclear weapons without international supervision cannot meet international standards.
If North Korea does not demonstrate sincerity in the reporting stage — the first denuclearization step, which is followed by verification and dismantlement — it cannot dispel persistent suspicions about its real motive for holding summits: the easing of sanctions. Moon himself underscored the need for Pyongyang to clear its present nuclear threats and for Washington to take a corresponding action. Moon must draw such concessions from Kim in a third summit. Otherwise, he neglects his most important mission.
At the same time, the Moon administration should moderate the pace in improving inter-Korean relations. Coincidently, the United States called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to deal with Russia’s cover-up of its violation of UN sanctions on North Korea. Moon must not forget that the United States has been reiterating the need for South Korea to strike a balance between denuclearization and improved inter-Korean ties. If the government pushes economic exchanges with the North too fast, it will raise alarms. Moon must focus on denuclearization.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 17, Page 34