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The best-case scenario for Kim Jong Un

Posted July. 15, 2013 08:03,   


“Dear fellow citizens, today on this stage, I would like to deliver the sincere will of myself and the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Though our Constitution stipulates that North Korea is a nuclear state, I would like to carry out the will of my late grandfather and father for the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula through cooperation with neighboring countries, for which you also hope.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the above at a news conference held right after a summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Kim was visiting Beijing to commemorate the 8th anniversary of the September 19 Joint Statement, which was a comprehensive agreement from the six-party talks to resolve North Korean nuclear issue. This announcement marked the historic resumption of the six-party talks that was stopped since U.S. President Barak Obama taking office in 2009.

The announcement also marked Kim’s first successful visit to China and debut on the global diplomatic stage. Kim looked like a totally different person from himself in March this year when he threatened to strike the U.S. with nuclear missiles in front of North Korean People’s Army generals, pointing to the U.S. on a world map. His remarks made the U.S. and China to breathe a sigh of relief. The U.S. used to be skeptical about sincerity of the Stalinist country, while China was feeling uneasy about the country.

Earlier on July 27, the 60th anniversary of the end of Korean War, Kim Jong Un had announced preliminary measures to resume the six-party talks in front of major foreign presses invited to Pyongyang, including CNN and BBC. Kim announced that he is willing to carry out the February 29 agreement, such as postponement of nuclear missile tests, stoppage of enriching uranium and returning of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and even go the extra mile by reporting a hidden uranium enrichment facility.

In the following month of August, the inter-Korean relationship moved smoothly. Inter-Korean dialogue gained momentum, which used to be strained, as the resumption of the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and inter-Korean family reunion in four years marking the August 15 Independence Day. Meetings to resume tour to the North’s Kumgang mountains also commenced. Trucks filled with relief supplies prepared by humanitarian groups drove to North Korea crossing its border city of Kaesong.

North Korea released Korean-American Bae Jun-ho who was arrested and sentenced to correctional labor for 15 years on charges of spying activities in November last year. A dialogue between professionals from the U.S. and North Korea was held in Pyongyang and Washington, while working-level talks between the two countries to resume the six-party talks were held in third countries in Asia and Europe. Officials from the two parties came to the dialogue table in 18 months since the abolition of the February 29 agreement.

With the North Korean leader’s forward-looking attitude, the Obama administration could end its strategic long-suffering. President Obama proudly said his strategy to change North Korea by pressing China succeeded. U.S. State Secretary John Kerry took on North Korea issue, putting away issues such as Middle East peace talks and incidents of Syria and Egypt, which have not moved forward as the U.S. wanted. Dialogue with North Korea will likely affect positively to the Democratic Party in the congressional elections slated for next year.

This is the best scenario for all drawn from the backdrop that North Korea invited Western media to Pyongyang and its senior official Kim Song Nam visited China marking the July 27 anniversary, celebrated by the North as the "Day of Victory," before the strategic dialogue between the U.S. and China on Wednesday last week.

Of course this is just a scenario. Kim Jong Un might think that denuclearization and improved inter-Korean relations will not help solidifying his succeeded regime. Instead, he might think military provocations and strained relations with other countries are easier and surer ways to strengthen his regime.

Based on these assumptions, a book published in last December on the inter-Korean relations for five years under the Lee Myung-bak administration predicted that North Korea would not seriously take on dialogue with South Korea or the U.S. for the five years during the Park Geun-hye administration and the four years under the second term of Obama. However, if this forecast prove false, it will be very good news for the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the survival and prosperity of 80 million South and North Koreans.