Posted November. 03, 2017 07:27,
Updated November. 03, 2017 09:01
Thae Yong-ho, former deputy chief of mission at the North Korean Embassy in London, testified at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday and said Kim Jung Un believes that once North Korea completes its nuclear development, he could negotiate with the United States to reduce South Korea-U.S. joint military drills and ultimately demand U.S. armed forces in South Korea to withdraw. According to the defected former diplomat, North Korea is seeking to follow Vietnam's communization model in the 1970s to achieve a forceful unification taking advantage of economic insecurity once the United States pulls out its armed forces in South Korea.
Thae defected from North Korea in July last year. He was a top elite in the North who knew the regime's workings better than anyone else. This is why his insights shared at the hearing should be taken seriously. The former North Korean diplomat warned of the North's ambition of being accepted as a nuclear state and furthermore achieving a forceful unification. Nuclear development is not just a tool of propaganda for the North but a clear goal being delivered with a strong determination and detailed plan. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be all triumphant with the recent tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that could hit the U.S. mainland. We have been all too complacent to think that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons under a belief that nuclear weapons and missiles will protect its system.
The former diplomat claimed that Washington should make it clear that it will never accept North Korea as a nuclear state and is ready to take all military actions possible. Warning against the danger of "automatic retaliation" by North Korea to U.S. military strike, he said, "It is necessary to reconsider whether Washington has tried all non-military options before it decides that military action against North Korea is all that is left." This is his desperate advice that "maximum pressure" should go together with "maximum engagement" to stop the completion of nuclear development by North Korea at all cost.
It is good to see Tae's public appearance after a long time. He appeared in many events, including a National Assembly hearing and press conference after defecting to South Korea last year, but whether it was his will or not, he has been keeping a low profile under the Moon Jae-in administration. I expect him to make his voice heard unlike late Hwang Jang-yop, former North Korean Workers’ Party secretary, who practically was under "house arrest" under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations so that we can learn the reality of the Kim Jong Un regime and keep our guard up.