평화/화해

FW-SPECIAL REPORT: 남북 정상회담

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2000-05-29 00:06
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NORTHEAST ASIA PEACE AND SECURITY NETWORK
***** SPECIAL REPORT *****

May 26, 2000

The following article was written by K. A. Namkung, Resident Scholar,
Atlantic Council of the United States. It originally appeared in
Japanese translation in the Asahi Shimbun on May 18.

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Prospects for Peace and Reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula

K.A. Namkung

Resident Scholar, Atlantic Council of the United States

Today the prospects for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula
appear brighter than they have been in half a century. Credit must be
given to President Kim Dae Jung of the Republic of Korea for his far-
sighted vision and persistence in engaging the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea. If the results of the upcoming North-South summit are
positive, he will have earned a special place in the history of the
reunification of the Korean nation. No less important have been the
Clinton Administration's "Perry Initiative" and Japan's sincere efforts
to normalize its relations with a close neighbor. The three-way
mechanism known as the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG)
has also played an important role in pursuing a policy with the Pyongyang
government.

The DPRK has also had in place for some time a coherent policy vis-a-vis
its relations with TCOG's member nations. Its readiness to engage in
political dialogue with its three longtime enemies stems from an interest
in settling the issues of the Korean War and moving forward in normal
relations with these parties and with the rest of the international
community. The policy has been in place for at least a decade and was
fully articulated in General Secretary Kim Jong Il's "foreign policy
treatise" in August 1997, a little-noticed but very important statement
in which he clearly evinced his interest in making peace with his enemies
if on the right terms.

Truly the two Koreas and the outside powers most interested in the
outcome of this conflict face a historic crossroads at this point.

However, nothing can happen overnight. In the same way that long-
estranged partners need time to become reacquainted, the parties
concerned need to proceed step-by-step in measured fashion. The process
may well take years. At the same time, such gradualism cannot serve as
an excuse for foot-dragging or be used as a precondition for progress in
the dialogue. How then to proceed?

There is a need for a sturdy political scaffolding to be erected in each
of North Korea's relations with South Korea, the U.S., and Japan in order
for the difficult negotiation over individual issues to proceed in an
orderly fashion.

As North and South Korea prepare for summitry, it may be instructive to
see how important such a scaffolding has been to the progress that has be
achieved in U.S.-DPRK talks. While negotiations over individual issues
have been tortuous at turns, they have always been undergirded by broad
political agreements such as the Agreed Framework of 1994 and even the
much-awaited Joint Communique between Washington and Pyongyang not yet
issued. Without such frameworks, the negotiation over missiles, nuclear
issues, MIA remains, and other specific issues might have collapsed a
long time ago

The upcoming summit shows a11 the signs of getting bogged down in
specific quid-pro-quo deals. The basic deal proposed by South Korea
calling for the reunion of divided families for governmental assistance
to a struggling North Korean economy can work only if grounded in a
broader agreement that can provide the anchor for this and all other
quid-pro-quo deals that will need to be negotiated over time.

What is needed is a new broad statement between North and South Korea
reaffirming the Basic Accords of 1991-92 including the denuclearization
accord but one that reflects the change in administrations that has taken
pleace in South Korea and the fact that the highest authorities would
take responsibility for its substance this time. Once such an agreement,
perhaps called the Joint Statement on Peace and Reconciliation, is in
place, specific issues of contention can he taken up one at a time, or
simultaneously in parallel sub-talks.

The roles of Japan and the United States in preparing for the summit are
just as important to its success.

The upcoming tenth round of normalization talks between Japan and North
Korea scheduled for May 22-25 in Tokyo represents a historic opportunity
for Japan to contribute to a lasting peace on the Korea peninsula. Now
that North and South have agreed to talk it is important for Japan to see
North Korea not only as a lingering bilateral diplomatic issue that
should be finally cleared up but as an opportunity to put its entire
colonial past behind once end for all and to make peace with the Korean
people as a whole.

Nothing could anchor and stabilize the long process of working through
individual grievances as much as a Japan-DPRK Joint Communique on Normal
Relations that would declare an end to the colonial legacy. Within such
a statement, the two sides could take up and resolve the many specific
grievances ranging from "kidnappings" and perceived security threats to
Japan.

The announcement of a summit can be the occasion for a renewed U.S.
commitment to respect the will of the Korean people in resolving the
issues that divide them. Such a policy has been stated on numerous
occasions. Up to now the United States, skeptical of the possibility of
any genuine breakthrough in North-South Korean relations, has tended to
see North Korean attempts to improve its bilateral relations with the
U.S. as an exercise to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul. No
such explanation can now be sustained.

Above all, the issuance of a U.S.-DPRK Joint Communique declaring an end
to hostile relations and both governments' commitment to embark upon the
road to peace can be the single most important U.S. contribution to the
developments now occurring on the Koran peninsula. U.S. concerns with
respect to North Korean's nuclear and missile programs can be addressed
through the nuclear and missile talks already established.

South Korea, the U.S., and Japan need to be reassured that progress in
political relations will be met with reciprocal gestures on North Korea's
part that their security concerns will be addressed in a serious way.

If the three nations base their policies of engagement with North Korea
on an assumption of North Korean vulnerability, whether economic or
military, not much can be expected to happen in mid-2000 so defuse
tensions on the Korean peninsula. The first order of business is to
establish peace - the declaration of an end to war - after which the
issues of security and economic reconstruction can be addressed. The key
to bringing this about is for the Koreas themselves to embark upon a
genuine process of reconciliation buttressed by acts of support from the
United States and Japan designed so facilitate this process, including
allowing the Koreas to work things out themselves while moving rapidly
towards normal political relations with the government in Pyongyang. We
may then see the beginnings of a process, albeit a lengthy one, that will
finally bring peace and prosperity so this troubled land.