President Moon Jae-in of South Korea arrived in Pyongyang early on Tuesday for a three-day visit. The outcomes of this summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will set the tempo for the remainder of 2018 and beyond. But progress between the two Koreas is partly dependent on reversing the decline in U.S.-North Korean engagement since the 12 June meeting in Singapore between Kim and President Donald Trump.
For North Korea, the diplomatic dance began on 9 September with the 70th anniversary of its establishment as a separate state, celebrated with a military parade in Kim Il-sung Square and a revival of the country’s famed gymnastic displays, the Mass Games.… Seguir leyendo »
Doubts and questions swirled before the momentous 12 June summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Could any good come of a meeting for which preparation seemed to be last-minute and inadequate? Was one of the two unconventional, risk-taking leaders going to pull a rabbit out of a hat? Whose purposes would the summit serve? Was it theatre channelling the domestic political compulsions of Trump and/or Kim? Would it live up to the hopes and calm the fears of U.S. allies South Korea and Japan? Would it bolster or weaken regional security and the balance of power?… Seguir leyendo »
What’s happening in Korea?
The leaders of North and South Korea, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in met in the Korean War truce village of Panmunjom today. It was the third inter-Korean summit, and the first such meeting in a decade.
The meeting was rich with symbolism. Every element, from the size of the conference table to the dinner menu, suggested deeper meaning. The pine tree Kim and Moon planted near the inter-Korean border was nourished with soil from the highest mountains in North and South Korea, Paektu and Halla, and water from the Han and Taedong rivers that run through the two Korean capital cities.… Seguir leyendo »
When North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on 26 March secretly rolled into Beijing on a private armoured train for unofficial meetings with President Xi Jinping, China moved decisively centre stage in the Korean peninsula drama. China also likely gave its truculent neighbour invaluable assurances and leverage for upcoming talks on its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
For a few weeks in March, it appeared as though China, preoccupied with its own internal political wrangling and reforms, might have been sidelined by the whirlwind Korean Olympic diplomacy. Kim Jong-un’s sister descended upon the Pyeongchang winter games, envoys from Moon Jae-in dined with Kim himself in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) capital, and finally, those same South Korean envoys revealed that U.S.… Seguir leyendo »
The surprise announcement on 8 March that U.S. President Donald Trump would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by May has overshadowed analysis of talks in Pyongyang between North and South Korean officials earlier in the week. But those talks were of deep significance. They positioned South Korea as a conduit to Trump, and set the stage for him to accept Kim Jong-un’s proposal. Moreover, the way the talks in Pyongyang progressed offers clues as to prospects for the forthcoming talks between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the U.S.
When Kim sat down to dinner with the delegation from Seoul, he took the inter-Korean Winter Olympics rapprochement another step forward.… Seguir leyendo »
North Korea’s decision to dispatch Kim Jong-un’s younger sister Yo-jong to South Korea (Republic of Korea, ROK) as part of a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics has opened up the possibility for the past month of sports diplomacy to garner something more substantive and lasting. With all parties to the Korean peninsula conflict sending senior delegations to South Korea for the Games, everyone should take a moment to give diplomacy a chance.
Kim Yo-jong’s visit is one outcome of high-level talks between the two Koreas during January, a process that started with Kim Jong-un using the annual North Korean leader’s address on 1 January to call for a successful New Year for both Koreas.… Seguir leyendo »
North Korea’s launch of a missile over Japan early on Monday morning was certainly irresponsible. But for Pyongyang, it was more of a carefully calculated risk than a reckless gamble. It is the latest step in a strategy aimed not to get into a shooting war but designed to build up the nuclear and missile capabilities that the regime firmly believes it needs.
A potential nuclear power firing missiles is of course enough to put the world on edge – and possibly provoke retaliation. Even mainstream U.S. commentators such as Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass are now suggesting that Pyongyang’s apparent irresponsibility is so great that it undermines faith in deterrence as a strategy and turns “a preventive strike [into] a serious option, notwithstanding its high risks and potential costs”.… Seguir leyendo »
North Korea once again captured the world’s attention when it boldly warned that it is ready to fire missiles over Japan toward the U.S. territory of Guam. The unusually specific and unacceptable North Korean declaration rattled governments in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington. But Pyongyang’s real target is not Guam, but to ensure it remains at the centre of the conversation. In this it has been significantly aided and abetted by U.S. President Donald Trump, who took with gusto to the unwise practice of trading direct threats with the Kim Jong-un regime.
Both sides have been contributing to an unhelpfully febrile and tense atmosphere.… Seguir leyendo »
The death of an American tourist just days after he was released from North Korean custody and repatriated to his home in Ohio has cast another long shadow over relations between Pyongyang and Washington. 22-year-old Otto Warmbier was in a coma when he departed the North Korean capital last week, and had apparently been in that condition for over a year. He appears to have been released and sent home only in order that he might die with his family around him, rather than in the unbending isolation of distant Pyongyang.
It is unclear how Warmbier ended up in a coma, and the entirely reasonable decision of his family to refuse an autopsy means that we probably never will.… Seguir leyendo »
Why have tensions risen on the Korean Peninsula this year?
Tensions are driven higher, as ever, by the North Korean nuclear and missile programs and evidence suggesting that Pyongyang is making notable progress toward deployment. However, this year there have been additional complicating factors.
Since the Trump administration took office, a number of U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have declared emphatically that the previous Obama administration policy of “strategic patience” is dead. This has been replaced by a firm rhetorical commitment to resolve the “North Korea problem” during the Trump term, and at times it has seemed as if there could be a willingness to use force to achieve this goal.… Seguir leyendo »
The North Korean long-range rocket that took off from the country’s northwest coast this morning poses a fresh round of searching questions for governments all the way from Beijing to Washington DC. Pyongyang’s second successful launch of a satellite, coming so soon after its fourth nuclear detonation on 6 January, threatens to set the tone for relations around the region for the coming year.
Preparations for the launch were meticulous. Following the blast-off at 9.30am, the state-controlled broadcaster KCTV announced a news bulletin to be shown live at 12.30pm. News of a “complete success” was then duly conveyed by Ri Chun-hee – a famous newscaster – dressed in her trademark bright pink.… Seguir leyendo »