Consensus is neededPresident Moon Jae-in was engaged in a full-fledged campaign to persuade the hawks in the United States and other pessimists to ease their lingering suspicions of North Korea during his latest trip to the U.S. He met with UN officials and security experts at major think tanks to break the deadlock on denuclearizing North Korea based on dialogue he had with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during his summit in Pyongyang. He even had an interview with Fox News — a right-wing American media outlet — despite his liberal ideology.
The most noteworthy message from Moon is an appeal for trusting North Korea. He did his utmost to convince them of Kim’s sincerity toward denuclearization. For example, Moon introduced Kim’s remarks that North Korea cannot endure America’s retaliations if it deceives Washington or drags its feet on denuclearization. At the same time, Moon urged Washington to declare an end to the Korean War to correspond with Pyongyang’s efforts.
It is yet to be seen if Moon’s efforts really worked. But it seems they worked with U.S. President Donald Trump. Shortly before his address at the United Nations, Trump showed confidence in the denuclearization of North Korea by stressing that the United States is making big progress in denuclearization. In a speech to the UN, Trump praised Kim for his courage and progress. Moon may have told Trump something he did not announce after returning from Pyongyang. If Kim really came up with positive proposals for denuclearization during his summit with Moon — and Moon really delivered them — that’s a good development.
Despite Moon’s flowery rhetoric about Kim’s proposals, a considerable number of South Koreans cannot dispel their concerns because they have been incessantly cheated by North Korea when it comes to denuclearization. As long as suspicion persists, you can hardly expect a smooth denuclearization.
The only way to clear international doubts is putting the North’s determination to denuclearize into action. Despite Moon’s plea for an early end to the war, Uncle Sam is still hesitating because Pyongyang has stopped short of taking concrete actions to denuclearize. Whether it presents a list of nuclear weapons and missiles or a timetable for denuclearization, North Korea must act fast.
The Moon administration also must persuade and encourage Kim to change his mind. Only then can the government achieve denuclearization, inter-Korean exchanges and economic cooperation. If Moon presses ahead with his North Korea policy without consensus, he can never succeed.
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 27, Page 30
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