Opening Keynote<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
We must take immediate action, without any hesitation,
to start dialogues for peace.
Chairman, All-Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />South Korea
First of all, I would like to thank Chairman John Kerry for orchestrating this event, the experts who are participating today as well as the ‘All-Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration in the United States’ and those involved in arranging this seminar.
□ For the past ten years, the US-ROK alliance has hovered between brightness and darkness.
This is the year that commemorates the ten-year anniversary of the inter-Korean Summit, which remains as the last substantiation of the Cold War. Ten years ago on June 15th, the two Koreas met for the first time subsequent to the division of the nation. The division era’s confrontational policies were put to an end and a door was opened to a new period of inter-Korea reconciliation and cooperation. Additionally, this year celebrates the ten-year anniversary of the US-DPRK ‘Joint Communiqué’.
This historical advancement was made possible by the United States and South Korea’s joint effort of the values and methods used to pursue peace and security on the Korean peninsula. At that time, we were able to observe a bright future for the US-ROK alliance. Through bilateral cooperation of the US and the ROK, a path towards peaceful reunification was unlocked and we were able to confirm the establishment of a new regional order.
However, ten years ensuing, despite our deepest desires for peace, tensions remain prevalent on the Korean peninsula today. As the hardliner policies of the Bush administration was in discord with Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administration’s policies of engagement with North Korea, the US-ROK alliance frequented both the bright and dark sides and consequently lost the decisive timing to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
□ We are disappointed in the Obama administration.
We had high expectations of the Obama administration. This was because as a presidential candidate, Obama openly declared that he would directly meet with Chairman Kim Jong-il. We anticipated the introduction of new history on the Korean peninsula. Moreover, Obama’s vision of a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ seemingly indicated to us, a strong resolve to find a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
However, a year and a half has already passed since the inauguration of the Obama administration, the Six-Party Talks have yet to re-convene a session and a satisfactory dialogue with North Korea has not been accomplished thus far. Furthermore, the past two years have reversed the inter-Korean relations to a state prior to the 6.15 Joint Declaration; a state similar to that of the Cold War period. The US-ROK alliance has recessed from active negotiations for peace to the former deterrence strategies towards North Korea. Rather than seeking a new East Asian order or pursuing cooperation, indications of reverting back to a period of confrontation are pervasive.
Due to our expectations and disappointments we have dealt with this past year and a half, it is inevitable for us to ask the Obama administration these questions. Whatever happened to the US-DPRK summit talks that were avowed? What efforts have been put forth towards restarting the Six-Party Talks? Is the Korean peninsula exempt from the ‘world without nuclear weapons?’ Why is the Obama administration laying fault on North Korea while repeating the failed deterrence policies of the past?
□ Yet, our expectations of the Obama administration remain.
Our expectations of the Obama administration lie in the active efforts of including the ‘Korean peninsula’ as part of the ‘world without nuclear weapons.’ We hope that the Obama administration will put an end to the Cold War order and establish a new peace regime in East Asia.
For the past two years, military tensions on the Korean peninsula have heightened while the lives of North Korean civilians have become more difficult. Moreover, North Korea’s nuclear capacity is strengthening. What these facts are saying is clear. It is that the Obama administration must elucidate the goal for US policy on North Korea and relentlessly question whether appropriate policy measures have been put into command to achieve this purpose.
For the purpose of peace, active dialogue must be started rather than pressuring North Korea. This point in time is precisely when the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved. Furthermore, this is a time when comprehensive dialogue and strategy should be executed to establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula rather than focusing solely on deterrence and nonproliferation. A new East Asia order is impossible without the formation of a peace regime on the Korean peninsula. Thus, we still carry our hopes for the Obama administration.
□ The people of South Korea sincerely send a request to the Obama administration presenting our deepest desires for peace.
Today, as the Chairman of All-Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration in South Korea’ and on behalf of the South Korean people who possess a sincere hope for a peaceful reunification, I would like to request the following to the Obama administration.
First, we ask the Obama administration to expedite a direct dialogue with North Korea.
Do not fear dialogue with North Korea. Dialogue does not need preconditions. Again, now is the time to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. China may put forth efforts as a mediator. However, the party that can assume the decision-making role to foster an environment for North Korean nuclear weapons abandonment is the United States and this can only be cultivated through US-DPRK bilateral talks. Delaying talks by attaching conditions will merely strengthen the nuclear capability of North Korea. Active dialogue is the only method to compel North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. Additionally, progress on the Six-Party Talks will only happen if the United States takes the lead.
The Bush administration ultimately pursued direct talks with North Korea. If the United States holds talks with North Korea, a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue can be worked out. We recognize that the Obama administration has been preparing a ‘comprehensive approach’ for negotiations with North Korea. Now is the time to implement this approach.
Second, the Obama administration must take prospective steps forward to establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula.
A peace regime on the Korean peninsula symbolizes the true end to the Korean War. North Korea is emphasizing the significance of concluding a peace treaty as a precondition to the abandonment of nuclear weapons and when the Six-Party Talks resume, a Korean peninsula peace regime will be the most disputed point. Due to the possibility of realistic change brought about by the construction of a peace regime, particularly one in the status of US Armed Forces in Korea, a faction within the US government may express a negative posture towards a Korean peninsula peace regime. However, if abandonment of nuclear weapons by North Korea is the goal, if the purpose is to advance one step further towards ‘a world without nuclear weapons’ through the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and if the success of the Six-Party Talks is the objective, an active discussion regarding the task of establishing a Korean peninsula peace regime can no longer be postponed.
Third, we request that the US take on a constructive role towards the development of inter-Korean relations.
In order to put an end to the Cold War on the peninsula and to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, a positive trilateral relationship between the two Koreas and the United States is necessitated. It is only through the tandem progress of inter-Korean relations will US-DPRK relations develop. Ten years ago, the Clinton administration put forth efforts for a virtuous cycle of the trilateral US-DPRK-ROK relations. We sincerely hope that the Obama administration, jointly with the Lee administration, will demonstrate positive efforts for the development of inter-Korean relations and for a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
Fourth, US-ROK relations must be developed into a future-oriented partnership.
Presently, there are many pending issues that have the potential to create long-term aggravation to the bilateral US-ROK relationship. Short-term benefits are not important. Even in the distant future, both the US and South Korea are bound together by a common destiny of the Korean peninsula and even on the East Asian order. For this reason, the United States must win the support of not only the American citizens but that of North and South Korea as well. An expansion of the nuclear umbrella and a postpone or reversal in the promise to transfer the wartime operational control is not desirable.
We do not want the US-ROK alliance to digress back to the Cold War period. We have faith that the Obama administration will sustain a US-ROK alliance that will create and maintain peace.
Lastly, I would like to emphasize the significance of this seminar today.
Bilateral governmental relations between the US and ROK are significant, but communication with the Korean civil society is also exceedingly important for the development of peace on the Korean peninsula. At times, the Korean civil society possess differing views with its government, and holds extensive experience and information pertaining to peace on the Korean peninsula and North Korean policies, more so than that of any other collective body. The Obama administration in addition to those outside of the government should create more opportunities to communicate with the civil society in Korea. We are confident that this channel of communication will provide extremely important opportunities to achieve the policy goals of the US government. I hope that this noteworthy occasion today will be the space where everyone’s wisdom can be gathered and invaluable discussions shared to confer on the issues of peace and security on the Korean peninsula following the Cheonan incident. Thank you everyone again for your attendance.
Is the Realization of a Peace Regime
on the KoreanPeninsula a Mere Dream?
Chung Hyun-back (Co-Chairman, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD); Professor, History Department, SungkyunkwanUniversity, Seoul, Korea)
The Korean civil society is gravely concerned as the reconciliation and cooperation policies of the last ten years have retreated and the inter-Korean relations have severely deteriorated. However, the policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration which induced our current situation, also known as the pursuit of peace through deterrence policies, have only demonstrated the strengthening of North Korea’s nuclear capacity. Presently, the Korean civil society is starting discussions to seek out a shortcut via the resumption of the Six-Party Talks to rise above this despairing situation and realize the goal of a peace regime. This paper proposes to actualize the ‘permanent peace regime’ that is stipulated in the September 19th Declaration and the February 13th Agreement within the framework of North Korean reconciliation and cooperation that has been making headway for the last ten years following the June 15th Joint Declaration. This new venture is possible by the matured sense of democracy by Korean citizens which was clearly demonstrated this past June 2nd during the local elections. In order to meet these changes in the Korean society, we request that the US government join in the various efforts to actualizing the goal of a peace regime as well.
An era of reconciliation and cooperation has passed and many of the people in South Korea are resentful.
Today marks two years and six months into the Lee Myung-bak administration and inter-Korean relations have come to a point of severe deterioration. Presently, the two historically significant pillars, the June 15 Joint Declaration which was materialized with former President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to North Korea in 2000 and the October 4 Joint Declaration, realized upon former President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit to North Korea, are in danger of fading into oblivion. Not only has the government-level negotiation channels been disrupted but also humanitarian aid based on private fundraising campaigns have been blockaded by government authorities. The Korean civil society is critically concerned with the critical state in which the achievements of the past ten years, based on policies of engagement with North Korea, are disappearing.
In this current situation, the Lee administration, eight days ahead of the local elections, took the decisive action of stipulating North Korea as the aggressor of the Cheonan incident at the symbolic Korean War Memorial. This provocative action by the South Korean government outwardly fueled the excitable conflict and confrontation while raising the voices of the conservative camp. However, the citizens viewed this incident dispassionately and quietly coped with the situation. Despite the government’s attempt to utilize national security with the so-called ‘northern wind’, the ruling party experienced a significant defeat in the municipal elections. As an unparalleled case in the history of local elections in Korea, the Korean civil society responded with a clear and lucid ‘NO’ to the Lee Myung-bak administration’s North Korea policy, also known as the assertion of ‘peace acquired through deterrence’. Here, we must take notice in the development of the Korean civil society, one that is no longer shaken by the well-acquainted thought of anti-communism or the unrefined anti-American sentiment, but one that is now maturing into ‘self-reflecting citizens’.
The Korean civil society was also disappointed at the United States’ posture regarding the Cheonan incident. Not only was the announcement by the Korean government pertaining to the cause of the Cheonan incident an exceedingly political act, it also presented investigation results that aroused many suspicions. A recent public survey revealed that approximately 30-50% of Korean citizens did not trust the investigation results presented by the Korean government. The Cheonan incident has now come to involve scientists in a heated controversy centered on the science journal ‘Nature’. However, during this process, as the United States demonstrated support of the Korean government’s rash act of hastily taking the Cheonan incident to the United Nations Security Council, the civil society in Korea began to doubt the United States’ role as the ‘balancer’ in this state of confrontation and tension.
Steps must be taken for the realization of a peace regime.
A lesson we can learn from our history is that a despairing situation begets a new start. For this reason, it is this point in time that we hope to stipulate a peace regime, debate, form a discourse and perhaps go even further to find a new gateway towards achieving this idea. The conservative power in Korea has already started expressing concerned voices regarding the extremely tense conditions of the inter-Korean relations fostered by the Lee Myung-bak administration. With the adverse criticism pertaining to the Cheonan incident accelerating, the conservative power took the lead to strongly demand of the government to lift the blockade on the organization ‘Korean NGO Council for Aid in North Korea’ which had been providing humanitarian aid to North Korea as well as a demand to create a turning point to dissolve the stringent inter-Korean relations via a North-South summit. Moreover, the civil society movement began the ‘rice aid movement for reunification’ upon the proposal of the agriculture organizations which is anticipated to expand into a large-scale citizen’s movement throughout Korea. This movement saved the Korean farmers suffering from depreciating rice prices and a surplus of 1.4 million tons of rice while simultaneously aiding their starving brethrens in North Korea and will continue to receive broad support from the citizens throughout Korea.
There is no need for us to extensively re-conceptualize a peace treaty or a peace regime nor do we need to find a roundabout way by regulating limits. Rather if we return to the fundamental framework of the Six-Party Talks, in other words to the state of mind from the September 19 Declaration in 2005 or the February 13 Agreement in 2007, discussions of a peace regime could ensue without difficulty and we could take steps forward to realize this dream. Since the February 13th Agreement clearly stipulates that ‘a separate forum will be constructed in order to realize a permanent peace regime’, it would be most practical to return to this framework to draw up specific measures.
The wrongful assumptions thus far must be overcome.
The Denuclearization·Open-door·3000 and the Grand Bargain policies that the Lee Myung-bak administration claims to advocate are ‘basket solution strategies’ which guarantee economic aid and security assurances immediately upon North Korea’s abandonment of their nuclear program. However, these are unrealistic policies. This was an approach which failed during the Bush administration. Moreover, due to the accumulation of mistrust in inter-Korean relations as well as in US-DPRK relations, this is a strategy that has been previously understood to be unachievable.
Furthermore, the conservative camp of Korea possesses two erroneous premises. First is the theory that North Korea will never change. In other words, it is the supposition that ‘no matter how much we pump aid into North Korea, it will never change’. Second, the discourse of the conservative camp which props up the Lee Myung-bak administration discusses the collapse of the North Korean regime covertly and openly. These two premises conflict with each other and display duplicity. However in the 90s, the US government based a decision on the information regarding North Korean collapse and delayed the implementation of the Geneva Conventions, which brought about results hastening North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing. Recent circumstances and particularly news based on the reports of defectors reveal that subsequent to the implementation of the Sunshine Policy, there are significant changes taking place within the borders of North Korea. The defectors living in South Korea regularly send money back home and can now directly communicate with family members via cell phones. North Korea is no longer a closed society. In addition, North Korea regime collapse is an issue that no one can predict. Thus, it is unrealistic to formulate policies based on this expectation. Even the conservative camp has begun to believe in the possibility that China may intervene if the North Korean regime does collapse and that reunification through absorption is a foreboding disaster for both Koreas.
Likewise, we must also consider China as a variable in this equation. North Korea may hedge towards a pro-China posture in response to the US North Korea policy. Can it not be clearly observed that subsequent to the nuclear weapons testing, North Korea has gotten closer to China? This reality is a retrogression of the multilateral approach being attempted by the international community to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. From now, the US must aim for a political success rather than military success over China by utilizing practical measures for the realization of a peace regime.
A peace regime must be achieved through the Six-Party Talks.
The US government can no longer stand in hesitation. In reality, the ‘status quo’ policy to which the US posture is easily inclined to is not a pragmatic measure which will solve the conflict in East Asia and may consequently result in recognizing North Korea as a nuclear power.
The US government must not make a mistake of abandoning the possibility of a solution to the problem in an attempt to discipline North Korea. Both the US, which advocates a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ and China, the chairing country, will hope to resume the Six-Party Talks. Likewise, North Korea has also requested the resumption of the Six-Party Talks succeeding the recent UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement. If the Six-Party Talks are resumed, discussions pertaining to the peace regime can be put into place without difficulty since a foundation has previously been put in place by the February 13th Agreement along with the prior establishment of the ‘working group for a peace regime’ in addition to the earlier agreement to deliberate on a ‘permanent peace regime’.
The 1991 Inter-Korean Basic Agreement stipulates ‘conflicts in opinion and disputes shall be resolved through peaceful means of dialogue and negotiations’. Furthermore, a practical framework for the reconciliation, cooperation and peaceful coexistence was established between the two Koreas in the form of the June 15th Joint Declaration and the October 4th Joint Declaration . Additionally, on September 14, 2006, former President Roh Moo-hyun and former President George W. Bush jointly agreed to a ‘comprehensive approach’ while agreeing to open separate negotiations for the purpose of building a peace regime in parallel to pursuing the Six-Party Talks even prior to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. This framework agreement must be honored as a historical achievement, arranging measures to utilize it as the basis for the institutionalization of a peace regime.
There are diverse possibilities at hand.
The United States demanded that the Hatoyama administration carry out the promise made with the previous administration regarding the Okinawa issue. As an extension of this logic, shouldn’t the US government exert the proper manner of fulfilling the promises made with the previous South Korean government as well? The United States must return to the September 19th Joint Declaration and the February 13th Agreement as well as actively take lead to actualize the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through the Six-Party Talks. Through this process, we can discover various middle paths to realize a peace regime. First of all, the process of denuclearization and a peace regime must be carried out in tandem. Alternatively, separating the peace treaty from the declaration to the end of the Korean War may further simplify the discussion regarding a peace regime. An effort to upgrade the multilateral cooperation framework is also plausible. The dichotomy of ‘normalization of relations via denuclearization’ versus ‘denuclearization via normalization of relations’ must be overcome and a strategy paralleling the two parties must be pursued. If this decision is executed, it will enhance the international community’s trust and public credibility of the self-determined peacemaker President Obama and his slogan ‘a world without nuclear weapons’.
However, the US government will encounter a dilemma. As aforementioned, it is because the current South Korean government has harshly deteriorated inter-Korean relations and has self-obstructed the gateway towards a peace regime. Moreover, the Korean civil society appears to be suffering from severe disunion and confrontation. Nonetheless, the Korean civil society and the public sentiment are changing. The majority of citizens prefer North Korean engagement policies promoting reconciliation and cooperation and providing humanitarian aid. In a society where an online communication system is highly evolved, Korean citizens can freely access information and liberally express one’s viewpoint. If the amount of cash assistance sent to North Korea between the two governments totaled to approximately 19 billion dollars, the citizens are aware of the fact that one day subsequent to the Lee Myung-bak administration’s presentation regarding the Cheonan incident on May 24th, stock prices plummeted causing severe loss of 39 billion dollars. Even for such practical reasons, citizens do not want conflict and confrontation on the Korean peninsula nor do they want to be put in a critical state. I believe that the US government has reached a situation where they must take notice of the sudden changes occurring in the Korean society and listen attentively to the voices of the citizens. As representatives of the Korean civil society, our visit to the United States is a means to convey these voices to the American society. We, South Korea and the United States, must work together to build up our strength and bring to fruition a peace regime.
For the Resumption of the Six-Party Talks
Kim Yeon-chul (Professor, Unification Studies Department, Inje University, Korea)
1. Does the Obama administration want peace on the Korean peninsula?
The Obama administration’s stance on the recent Korean situation has been disappointing. In the past when a military crisis or a threat of war emerged on the Korean peninsula, the US managed the situation in a stable manner. The US actively intervened to hold down the possibility of war when the Syngman Rhee regime called for unification by pushing northward after the Korean War and when there were frequent North-South military skirmishes during the 1960s. Even when the 1996 incident of North Korean submarine infiltration occurred during the Clinton administration, the US mediated the North-South relationship and fostered an environment for dialogue.
But with respect to the Cheonan incident, the Obama administration, rather than managing the situation in a stable manner, incited military tension. By taking advantage of the situation of escalating military tension in Northeast Asia, the Obama administration resolved the Futenma base issue and grabbed the opportunity to take up a more advantageous negotiating position regarding pending issues in the Korea-US relations. In particular, attention must be paid to the Obama administration’s agreement on delaying the transfer of the war-time military operational control. Even if the request had been made by the South Korean side, the US broke the pledge between the two nations. This issue, along with the Korea-US FTA renegotiations, will provide cause within South Korea to reconsider the issue of trust concerning the US.
The Obama administration pocketed a tactical advantage. But it lost the status of the US as the stable overseer of state of affairs in East Asia. It gained a small advantage but lost significant legitimacy. In future situations, I hope the Obama administration will show the will to establish peace on the Korean peninsula.
2. The cause of the deadlock in the six-party talks and the Obama administration’s choice
The six-party talks have been deadlocked for a long time since October of 2007. There are probably several causes for this. First, the most important cause is North Korea’s failure to maintain patience during the period of change in administration in the US and resorting to brinkmanship tactics such as nuclear testing. Although the change of power in the US affected the process of transforming a negotiation situation into a deadlocked one, North Korea provided the cause of transformation from a deadlocked situation into a state of sanctions.
Second is the changed role of South Korea. In the past, South Korea played an active role in engaging in inter-Korean dialogue and creating an atmosphere of negotiations in order to foster a positive environment for the six-party talks. But after the rise of the Lee Myung-bak administration, South Korea has led the drive to impose sanctions against the North and has pursued confrontation over dialogue.
Third, the passive stance of the Obama administration provides an additional important cause. If the priority of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue remains low, the policy-making structure for resolving the North Korean nuclear issue is in disarray and there is passivity toward dialogue, then the outlook is pessimistic for the North Korean nuclear issue. Where did the Obama administration’s “comprehensive approach” go? Why does the Obama administration consider dialogue with North Korea as a “reward” like the neoconservatives of the Bush administration?
For the resumption of the six-party talks, a firm understanding of the comprehensive approach is first of all required. The comprehensive approach is fundamentally a “parallel resolution approach.” In this approach the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the countervailing actions of relation normalization, energy and economic support, and peace regime building on the Korean peninsula are implemented simultaneously side by side. It is also the key principle of the September 19th Joint Statement.
Some on the South Korean and the US side think that the six-party talks are not taking place because North Korea insists on lifting the sanctions and signing the peace treaty as preconditions. Is this so? It is true that North Korea is making such an argument in regard to the six-party talks. But this is the logic of the North Korean-style response to the insistence on denuclearization as a precondition and a tactical exaggeration made to take up the higher negotiating ground prior to negotiations. Let’s recall the past when the six-party talks drifted, became deadlocked and fell into crisis. Many times North Korea said they cannot attend the six-party talks wearing the “hat of sanctions.” But through contact and dialogue, the talks convened and progressed through the process of push and pull. If there is a firm will to pursue the comprehensive approach, that is, the parallel solutions approach, we can persuade North Korea. Negotiations consist of give and take. If there is a will to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, it simply requires giving what needs to be given and receiving what needs to be received.
Regarding the resumption of the six-party talks, currently a difference is emerging between the Chinese solution and the South Korean solution. The situation will change depending on which position the Obama administration chooses. The Chinese solution is to seek change through engagement. China clearly takes the position that the UN Security Council resolution related to sanc