Peace & Security on the Korean Peninsula:

New Ideas and a Blueprint for Progress


by Dr. Yang-Taek Lim

Professor of Economics, Dean, Hanyang University



The political situation on the Korean peninsula remains as a lingering threat to peace during this Post Cold War Era in which we find ourselves. This issue's Feature Editorial is part of a series of peace proposals drafted by Dr. Lim, Yang-Taek, facing the realities and offering solutions to reduce and hopefully eliminate tensions in this region. In the following paper, Dr. Lim offers an in-depth and timely commentary, citing the current environment on the Korean peninsula in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States in September and President Bush's recent visit to Korea. For related articles refer to "A New Proposal for a Northeast Asian Peace City on the Korean Peninsula" and "A New Proposal for Korea's Reunification."


I. Introduction


In the Asian and Pacific region, Far East Asia has international significance on both the political and economic fronts. Particularly, the Korean peninsula is very important in the two aspects as follows:

First, on the international political and military aspect, Korea has repeatedly been the focus of international conflict for the past one hundred years; examples include the Sino-Japanese War (August 1894-March 1895); the Russo-Japanese War (February 1904-September 1905); the Second World War (1939-1945); and the Korean War (June 1950-July 1953). Other examples may include North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in February 1993 after the decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct a special inspection on North Korea’s nuclear facilities; the Geneva Agreement between North Korea and the United States on Nuclear Facilities Inspections (August 5-12, 1994); the missile launch by North Korea in August 1998; and the U.S. President George W. Bush’s defining North Korea as part of an ‘axis of evil’ in his State of the Union Address on January 29, of this year. These are good examples of how important the Korean peninsula has been in the past, how important it is at the present, and how important it will continue to be in the future.

Second, in the international economic aspect, the Korean peninsula can play an important role both in fostering the coexistence of capitalist and socialist economic systems, as well as in furthering the restructuring of capitalist economies.

The four superpowers surrounding the Korean peninsula: the United States, China, Japan and Russia are all striving to strengthen their influence on the Asian continent, and are seeking to establish military ties as well as economic relationships through the 9th Summit.

The Korean peninsula issue was raised during the G7 meeting in July 1996, in Lyon, France. A more recent G7 meeting focused on an economic declaration designed to overcome disagreements occurring between advanced and developing countries, and it called upon the world community to participate in the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO) which was initially organized on March 9, 1995.

Regarding the four-party talks (South and North Koreas, the United States and China), China and the United States agreed to actively persuade North Korea to participate in this meeting. The United States and Japan reached a concrete agreement to resolve problems pertaining to North Korea. In addition, at the G8 meeting (G7 + Russia) in June 1997, economic, diplomatic and security issues including the Korean peninsula and nuclear nonproliferation were discussed.

After Chinese President Jiang Zemin’s official state visit to the United States in October 1997, U.S. President Clinton responded with his own visit to China in June 1998. During his visit, on June 29,1998, the U.S.-China Summit was held, and the two leaders agreed to conduct close consultations to secure stability on the Korean peninsula.

In November and December 1997, when Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng visited Japan, he strongly urged a four-party meeting between China, Russia, the United States and Japan to secure peace in the Asian-Pacific region. This four-party meeting began in Geneva in December 1997. The South Korean side raised the issue of turning a cease-fire agreement into a permanent peace between the two Koreas, whereas the North Korean side suggested a peace agreement between North Korea and the United States and a withdrawal of American soldiers from South Korea.

In a series of summits between the four superpowers[1], the security of the Korean peninsula has often been discussed. The stability of the Korean peninsula is directly connected to that of the Far East as a whole. Accordingly, it is natural that during their summit meetings the superpowers have discussed the Korean peninsula issues seriously, since it is directly linked not only to their political and economic interests, but will ultimately lead to peace in the Far East.

Through its summits with China, the United States achieved the following results: on the economic front, it urged China to correct its trade imbalance with the United States, and pushed for U.S. entry into the Chinese nuclear power plant market; on the military front, the United States succeeded in obtaining vested rights for military and security in the Far East by obtaining China’s agreement to change ‘The U.S.-Japan Security Agreement’, signed in November 1978 against the former Soviet Union, into ‘The New U.S.-Japan Agreement’, signed on September 23, 1997 with China as its counterpart. The Chinese concession for this agreement paved the way for Japan to strengthen its military power.

China, for its part, made its strategic partnership relationship with the United States official in the U.S.-China Summit in Beijing on June 29, 1998, thereby reducing the possibility of U.S. economic sanctions, which could have slowed China’s further economic growth.

Russia, on the other hand, obtained practical success in resolving border problems with China by participating in the G7 meeting. In the G8 meeting in June 1997, member nations agreed to fully support Russia’s early joining of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The four superpowers surrounding the Korean peninsula hope to achieve a peaceful solution to the issue of the Korean peninsula through the relaxation of tension through dialogue between the two Koreas. Recently, with the improvement of relations between surrounding nations, the environment has improved markedly for securing a lasting peace between the two Koreas, and beyond that their eventual reunification.

Nevertheless, the political situation surrounding the Korean peninsula recently entered a critical phase: on August 31, 1998, North Korea fired its long-range Kwangmyungsung 1 missile, thereby posing a critical threat to the security of the Far East. South Korea, one of the major parties concerned, has remained relatively ‘silent’ on this matter, but behind-the-scenes talks between the United States, North Korea and China have been vigorously pursued. Japan, for its part, has responded by strengthening its military power by launching its own spy satellites, and by forging links with the United States to jointly develop the Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system.

The recent satellite launch by North Korea suggests that the country has the capability to launch a long-range missile which could reach Japan and even the U.S. It is a threat to South Korean security as well as to the regional security. Since the North Korean regime has been very much provocative even in the Post Cold War era, uncertainty on the Korean peninsula is increasing. The recent U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) indicates that for the next ten years, the Korean peninsula and the Middle East are the two global flashpoints where armed conflicts are most likely to occur.[2]

According to an assessment published in 1993 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS): “North Korea’s nuclear threat is a threat to international security, and military action will be needed if an inspection of its nuclear facilities is not enough.” The report continues: “If nuclear proliferation is permitted in North Korea, Taiwan may follow suit with nuclear weapons of its own, which would prompt China to further arm itself. This in turn might speed up the already existing nuclear competition between India and Pakistan, and provoke

Japan into changing its nuclear policy.

Under the previously-described background for the importance of the Korean peninsula for the world peace, the author would like to follow up the recent political situation in the surrounding region including the recent changes in North Korean political situation, analyze the South-North Korean relation and the U.S.-North Korean relation, and propose a ‘Northeast Asian Peace City’ for recurring peace and cooperation on the Korean peninsula.



II. The Recent Political Situation in the Surrounding Region


1. George W. Bush’s Northeast Asia Tour Summit Diplomacy


Since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, the country has been at war with Afghanistan to eradicate terrorism. Amidst increased attention being paid to who will be next target of anti-terrorist war, the U.S. President George W. Bush pointed out the threat of mass destruction weapons of Iran, Iraq and North Korea in his State of the Union address on January 29, 2002. Defining North Korea as part of an ‘axis of evil’, the U.S. president revealed his strong hatred against Pyungyang, saying “although North Korean people are starving, Pyungyang has mass destruction weaponry”, and left no doubt that his hard line policy against North Korea would remain intact. This suggests that the cold atmosphere sweeping over the relation between North Korea and the U.S. will continue unless Pyungyang shows epoch-making changes in their attitudes. On the other hand, tension may be created on the Korean peninsula depending on how North Korea responses.[3]

George W. Bush launched his Northeast Asia tour at the time when the U.S. intended to build a new world order after winning the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan since terrorist attacks on September 11 last year. His tour had the following objectives.

First, the U.S. aimed to seek for a way for cooperative collaboration to create an U.S.-led anti-terrorist world order by reconfirming its position in the Northeast Asia and showing its leadership.

Second, the U.S. had an objective to reinforce its existing alliance and maintain the recent U.S.-China cooperative relation. In other words, the U.S. intended to consolidate ties with its allies (Korea and Japan) in continuing the war against terror, and maintain the recent cooperative relation between the U.S. and China, which was created after the terrorist attacks on Washington.[4]

The third and last objective was to put an emphasis on the U.S.-South Korea alliance for keeping peace on the Korean peninsula. The Bush administration seemed to emphasize the importance of the U.S.-Korea alliance since they thought North Korea could have a dialogue with South Korea and the U.S. and show ‘changes’ only if the U.S.-Korean tie is kept firm.


2. U.S.-Japanese Summit Talk


Through the U.S.-Japanese summit talk, the U.S. directed our attention to the keeping and reinforcement of U.S.-Japanese ties for international collaboration against terror. Also, Japan concentrated on realizing its interests via expansion of its political and military role by enhancing an anti-terrorist alliance in conformation to the policies and diplomacy lines of Washington. In the talk with the Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, Bush said, “we are considering every possible measure” against the Iraq, Iran and North Korea, which he referred to as ‘axes of evil’. Koizumi said, “we will provide energetic support to the U.S. efforts to uproot terrorism.”[5]

Since the anti-terrorist war already expanded the scope of the Japanese military role, Japan did not take any worrisome independent conservative and strong stance, and is approaching the issue of North Korea cautiously. However, Bush and Koizumi, reportedly, agreed on the necessity of close cooperation among South Korea, the U.S. and Japan in relation to the policy on Pyungyang.

Bush emphasized his full support of the Koizumi reforms, and the Japanese Prime Minister repeated his existing position of ‘continuous restructuring’. Pointing out the importance of Japanese economic recovery for the world economy and Asian security, the U.S. president showed strong expectations of economic recovery.[6]


3. U.S.-Sino Summit Talk


On the other hand, the U.S. and China exchanged information on the basis of agreement on the necessity of international collaboration for anti-terrorism after the terrorist attacks last year. Although the two countries lost common interest related with security due to the post-cold war atmosphere, last year's terrorist attacks provided a momentum for finding their common security interest (anti-terrorism).[7]

The U.S.-Sino summit talk was important in that the two countries gave up their past estrangement and restored their strategic collaboration. The two countries’ relations became worse since a Chinese fighter and a U.S. scouting plane crashed in the North-China Sea in April last year. Also, there were talks about a ‘Chinese threat’ in the U.S. due to the U.S. economic recession relative to the rapid growth of the Chinese economy. However, in the summit talk, the U.S. and China agreed to have conversations on anti-terrorist actions, the economy, science, trade, finance, anti-AIDS campaigns, etc.[8]

Also, Bush asked Beijing to support the resumption of dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea. Chinese President Jiang Zemin replied, “We hope the two Koreas resume dialogue and the U.S. has conversations with North Korea.” The two summits discussed the issues of the U.S. attack on Iraq, Taiwan, MD, human rights and religion in China, and Chinese arms exports, but they failed to reach agreement. This made us feel that there are many obstacles to the recovery of complete U.S.-Sino collaboration.[9]


4.  South Korea-U.S. summit talk


The South Korea-U.S. summit talk held on February 20 provided a momentum for stabilizing the political situation on the Korean peninsula, which was swept over by turbulence caused by Bush’s reference to the ‘axis of evil’.

The largest achievement of the talk was that it blocked the possibility of a sudden event like the inter-Korean war since the U.S. and Korea agreed to solve problems such as the North Korean weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by making new adjustments to the policies of South Korea and the U.S. to North Korea after successive U.S. hard line references on Pyungyang and keeping the Sunshine Policy intact.[10]

The Korean President and the U.S. President discussed further on the pending problems like South Korea-U.S. alliance, collaboration against terrorism, WMD in North Korea, the Sunshine Policy and inter-Korean dialogue, trade issues between South Korea and the U.S., and reached meaningful agreements. Especially, one of the very important achievements of the talk was that the two Presidents agreed to raise the South Korea-U.S. alliance to the level of ‘global partnership’ where Seoul and Washington collaborate in terms of relations with North Korea and even in terms of global issues such as anti-terrorism. Additionally, we should pay attention to the fact that the two summits reconfirmed South Korea-U.S. collaboration on the policies on North Korea and Bush confirmed Washington’s support for the Sunshine Policy and U.S. intentions of conversation with Pyungyang.[11]

On the other hand, the South Korea-U.S. summit talk narrowed the two countries’ differences of viewpoint on the WMD of North Korea. South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung sympathized with the expansion of North Korean WMD pointed out by Bush, and made certain that the WMD issue should be solved early through U.S.-North Korea talks.

However, in the summit talk, the two Presidents did not actually discuss concrete solutions to the WMD issue. Also, they did not reach an agreement on the basic perspective on the Kim Jung Il regime and the possibility of North Korean attitude change. For this reason, the political situation on the Korean peninsula is very likely to be dependent upon whether North Korea is present at the conference table. Especially if Pyungyang reacts against the South Korean and the U.S. call for dialogue and does not show any response, South Korea and the U.S. may again have disagreements on the policy toward North Korea.

Therefore, the significance of the summit talk was that it provided a momentum for relaxing the tension on the Korean peninsula caused by Bush’s reference to an ‘axis of evil’. How Pyungyang responds will remain as a variable.

North Korea has not shown any response to South Korea after the South Korea-U.S. summit talks. Pyungyang will not be dissatisfied with the fact that South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung obtained U.S. support for his Sunshine Policy and asked strongly for Washington to have conversations with North Korea. However, Pyungyang may take a hard position since South Korea and the U.S. have a firm stance on the WMD issue, which is a pending problem between the U.S. and North Korea, and because South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung promised to give ‘energetic support’ to the U.S. anti-terrorist war which Pyungyang has questioned.[12]



III. Changes in the North Korean Political Situation


1.  ‘Powerful Country’ and ‘New Thought’


North Korea put forward the slogan of so-called ‘powerful and great country’, meaning that “with powerful thought and arms, even a small country can become a world-class power.”[13] The existing ‘march of hardship’ or ‘socialist exhausting march’ demanded unilateral sacrifice from the North Korean population, while ‘powerful country’ will implant confidence and pride in the North Korean people with the opening of the Kim Jung Il era, will enhance ‘the spirit of last-ditch guarding of the great leader’, and improve the North Korean position in world politics.


2.      Recent Joint Editorials in the North Korean Newspapers


On the other hand, in the joint editorial for the year 2000, North Korea argued that they should celebrate the 55th Anniversary of the Foundation of the North Korean Labor Party as “a great festival of the winners of the construction of a socialist economy” and emphasized “guarantee of actual benefit”, “economic balance sheet” and “improvement of the quality of products and constructions”. Against this background, Pyungyang put a special emphasis on the science-technology and economic issues. This proves that North Korea has a stronger than ever awareness of its economic reality and means that Pyungyang will seek economic benefit through dialogue and interchange with Seoul.

In the New Year’s Joint Editorial for the year 2001, North Korea put forward ‘New Thought’. The editorial defined “the 21st century as one of great transformation and creation” and therefore, “the new century requires innovative viewpoints, novel ideas, progressive work attitudes, and practical and efficient economic organization activities.” After that, articles and editorials calling for “new thought”, “breakup from past”, “transformation”, et al, flooded the media.[14] What North Korea wants now is to consolidate the unity of its system and obtain economic benefit via reconciliation and collaboration with South Korea. Therefore, we should note that the “New Thought” presented in the Joint Editorial is limited to the economy and has nothing to do with the “Perestroika” of Gorbachev.

In the New Year’s Joint Editorial on January 1, 2002, Pyungyang argued that they should glorify this year, which is the 90th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, as a new year in which to leap forward to the construction of a powerful country, saying that they should make prominent efforts in the four sectors of great leadership, thought, army and institution, and emphasizing unity under the leadership of Kim Jong Il.[15]

This means that Pyungyang will focus on its internal unity under the recognition that North Korea encounters both internal and external difficulties. The four-sector prominence doctrine newly put forward by North Korea seems to be a practice goal for boasting the achievements of Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jung Il, in that the doctrine emphasizes consolidation of thought under the leadership of Kim Jung Il and a blood-tied army-people relation.

Arguing that “reunification must be done by both Korean people”, the Joint Editorial reiterated their long-held theses such as South Korea’s abolition of "main-enemy" theory, abolition of the National Security Act, abandonment of collaboration with foreign powers, withdrawal of U.S. armies from South Korea, and denunciation of the attempt to undermine the joint declaration. Especially, the editorial emphasized the fulfillment of the June 15 South-North Korea Joint Declaration only in terms of principle, suggesting that both Koreas’ relations would not go on a pleasant trip this year. Therefore, it is expected that North Korea would show optional response for acquiring practical benefit depending on the changes in the political situation on the Korean peninsula.[16]

This year’s Joint Editorial mentioned neither independence, peace, nor friendship, which are North Korea's basic ideas of international relations, nor did the editorial present orientations of Pyungyang’s foreign policies. This is likely because the international political situation related with the U.S. and Japan is highly volatile. Therefore, North Korea will follow the turn of international events and cope with inter-Korean relations and its foreign polices.


3.      Joint Conference of Governments, Political Parties and Organizations


Opening the possibility of inter-Korean talks via the Joint Conference of Governments, Political Parties and Organizations held on January 22, this year, North Korea showed its will to improve South-North Korea relations irrespective of South Korean political agendas like upcoming presidential election. In the conference, Pyungyang presented ‘three appeals’ and ‘three proposals’.[17]

Although a concrete timetable or format was not presented, North Korea displayed their will to have dialogue with South Korea in an indirect way. Especially, there was an unseen positive aspect that Pyungyang would have unconditional governmental and non-governmental conversations with South Korea.

However, the appeals and proposals have many aspects that we should be cautious of. North Korea reiterated and emphasized the phrase ‘by our nation’ 24 times via the Joint Conference, and argued for the national and independent reunification movement covering ‘each party, each group and each stratum’ of South Korea, North Korea and foreign countries. North Korea argued that the elimination of obstacles to peace and reunification be included as one of the ‘three appeals’. Its demands were withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, cessation of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, abolition of the "main enemy" doctrine of South Korea, and abolition of the National Security Act.

Putting forward the slogan ‘by our nation’, North Korea demanded the termination of collaboration of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan and national collaboration with Pyungyang. ‘National and independent reunification movement’ meant that North Korea would encourage the reunification movement led by non-governmental groups, such as the August 15 Festival held last year. Finally, ‘elimination of obstacles to peace and reunification’ meant that North Korea would remove threats to its system.

The reason why North Korea opened the possibility of conversation with South Korea this year via the Joint Conference is likely because Pyungyang thought that changing its conventional ‘First-the U.S. and Last-South Korea’ strategy was inevitable in the situation where Pyungyang has poor relations with Washington and Tokyo. From last year on, North Korea has prepared large ‘Arirang Festival’ in order to dilute the importance of the World Cup to be held jointly by South Korea and Japan this year, to propagate its system and obtain economic benefit. To make the August 15 festival successful, North Korea has no choice but to attract the participation of large non-governmental groups in the event, even via a temporary improvement of relations with South Korea.

Pyungyang may hope this development in inter-Korean relations leads to improved relations with Washington. In light of the present situation, Pyungyang will have difficulties in realizing their hopes. Therefore, North Korea will seek the improvement of relations with South Korea by focusing on the promotion of a non-governmental level reunification movement rather than on the government-level talks. If Kumkang Mountain tourists could visit Pyungyang and participate in the ‘Arirang Festival’, the Keumkang Mountain tour would be vitalized such that the North Korean government could collect overdue tour fees and make the South Korean government guarantee that the Keumkang Mountain Tour Development remits charges which Hyundai promised to pay.[18]



IV. The South-North Korean Relation


The South Korean government’s basic policy vis-à-vis North Korea is well manifested in three principles, expressed by President Kim Dae-Jung in his speech before the National Security Council on January 4, 1999: (1) South Korea will promote peace and security on the Korean peninsula; (2) it will continue to make efforts to promote reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas; (3) it will pursue its policy vis-à-vis North Korea based on support from the international community and a mutual-assistance system.

The South Korean government’s basic strategy toward North Korea is that if it activates its economic ties with North Korea with a more positive and tolerant attitude, it will succeed in having more contacts, more dialogue and more cooperation with the North. This so-called ‘Sunshine Policy’ will require not only a great deal of political restraint on South Korea’s part, but will also require considerable economic burdens.

For example, the Geneva agreement reached between the U.S. and North Korea from August 5-12, 1994, requires South Korea to pay at least U.S.$0.8-1 billion annually to North Korea in the form of food, crude oil and light-water reactors. South Korea will cover 70% of the construction costs for these reactors, an estimated 3.542 billion won (U.S.$2.95 billion).

The party most directly concerned with preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons is of course South Korea itself. It is therefore natural for South Korea to play a key role in this project. However, it will pose a great burden on the nation, particularly in the wake of Asia’s economic condition.

The South Korean government has responded positively to the Perry Report of 1999 and to recent shifts in U.S. policy towards North Korea: they are seen serving to dismantle the cold war structure on the Korean peninsula and support the South Korean government’s position on issues such as the realization of basic agreements between South and North Korea, and the reunion of separated families.

But North Korea’s two-sided approach “negotiate with the U.S., but exclude and remain hostile toward South Korea” - makes it unlikely that we will see remarkable reforms anytime soon. For example, in a speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, North Korean Foreign Minister Paik Nam-soon declared his expectation for the improvement of relations with the United States and Japan, but he demanded that South Korea discard its policy of inducing changes in North Korea, and also that it abolish its National Security Law.

Since the South-North Korea Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000, the two Koreas have fulfilled relatively sincere follow-ups such as the National Defense Minister Talks, the Red Cross Talks, meetings of the Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee, and talks near the minister-level. In late 2000, George W. Bush of the Republican Party was elected president and Korea again experienced economic recession, South-North Korea relations started losing vitality.

The sixth South-North Korea Minister Talks held in Keumkang Mountain from November 8 to November 14 in 2001, ended in a rupture without making any joint statement on the grounds of an ‘emergency alert in South Korea’. The two Koreas have not had any meaningful contact or dialogue since that time.

At the sixth Minister Talks, Kim Ryung-Sung, the head of North Korean delegation, complained that North Korea the emergency alert taken following the terrorist attacks on the U.S., the additional deployment of U.S. Air Force units on the Korean peninsula, South Korean military exercises, and recommendations of the liberalization and reform of North Korea.[19]

The primary reasons why the inter-Korean relations have come to a deadlock were the Bush administration’s hard line policy toward North Korea and Pyungyang’s dissatisfaction with the increasing collaboration between Seoul and Washington. Especially, the anti-terrorist war started by U.S. attacks on Afghanistan did not seem to end easily, and North Korea felt it could be affected by the war. Economic support from South Korea was not same as before due to the shrinkage of the Kumkang Mounting tour business and other factors. In spite of North Korea’s strong request for electric power support, South Korea did not give an affirmative answer. All of these factors made North Korea distrustful of the South Korean government. Additionally, conservative forces in South Korea have turned up the volume of their critical voices against the South Korean government’s engagement policy toward North Korea[20] and concerns about the next regime’s policy toward North Korea becomes more likely to be realized. Therefore, North Korea needs some period for adjusting its policies. These factors are thought to delay the improvement and progress of South-North Korea relations.

In this year’s Joint Editorial, North Korea showed its concern that it would be affected by the anti-terrorist war, and used expressions such as “war threat”, “invasion and war provocation by warlike elements”, “imperialist pro-war strata”, “tension intensified” etc. As long as North Korea holds these perspectives, any improvement in South-North Korea relations without an accompanying improvement of U.S.-North Korean relations will be very limited.

On February 19, 2002, via Pyungyang Broadcasting, North Korea defined Bush’s reference to an ‘axis of evil’ as “backbiting” and violently condemned the U.S. president as “a sole head of evil”. The next day, Labor News (Rodongshimmun) argued that “there would be no other dangerous and brutal devilish murderer than the imperialist U.S.A. which always threatens humankind.”[21] On February 20, a spokesman of the Department of Foreign Relations of North Korea announced a statement condemning Bush and rejecting North Korea-U.S. talks. In the statement, the spokesman said “we don’t need any dialogue put forward by the U.S. only to find out excuses for invading us without recognizing our system” and “we don’t want to meet Bush bandit.”[22] If it was true that Kim Jung Il became enraged by Bush’s definition of North Korea as part of an ‘axis of evil’,[23] dialogue between North Korea and the U.S. will be likely to require a considerable cooling period before they can be resumed.

Notwithstanding, since North Korea wants to resume conversation with the U.S. and knows that it is no match for the greatest power, Pyungyang will open a channel of dialogue in any form to respond to the U.S. call for conversation, will estimate what the U.S. thinks and will increase its conversation level gradually. However, this process will take a considerable length of time to bear fruit.

Although Bush uses soft terminology, North Korea-U.S. conversation will not be resumed within the foreseeable future. Another reason preventing North Korea from attending the conference table is the fact that Bush’s message is based entirely on the U.S. position without considering North Korea’s position of starting talks on the basis of agreements made with the Clinton administration.

Moreover, North Korea is very likely to think that Bush’s separation strategy defining the “Kim Jung Il regime as evil” and “North Korean people as a target of support” is designed to destroy the North Korean government, and treat it with indifference.[24] Also, North Korea knows that even if it has conversation with the U.S., the problem of compensation for electric power loss caused by the delayed construction of light water reactors cannot be solved easily and that the issues of nuclear weapons, missiles, and conventional weapons U.S. wants to bring up for discussion are directly linked with keeping its system. In light of this, North Korea will think it is not yet the time for deepened discussion.

Especially, we should note that North Korea came around again to the position it held prior to the South-North Korea summit talk in regard to the issues of U.S. army forces in Korea and methods of reunification, which were regarded as being understood by both governments at the summit talk, suggesting that South-North Korea relations would not go well. “Imperialist pro-war elements must withdraw invader troops from South Korea right now,” The Joint Editorial argued. It was followed by North Korean Pyungyang Broadcasting on January 7, this year, saying “North Korea and South Korea recognized the commonness of low-level federation based reunification and association based reunification and agreed to push forward with our reunification in that direction. That means both Koreas orient toward federation based reunification.”[25] This suggests that North Korea will continue arguing for the legitimacy of its long-held federation-based reunification, making improvement of inter-Korean relations more difficult.

On Pyungyang Broadcasting on November 14, last year, North Korea argued that “since the talks (the sixth Minister Talks) ended without bearing fruit, new risks of fulfilling the mutual agreements were created and North-South Korea relations were worsened.”

The reasons for driving South-North Korea relations to a deadlock will remain and the two Koreas have an increasing distrust of each other. Under these circumstances, North Korea will hold three major events comprising the 90th anniversary of birth of Kim Il Sung, the 60th Birthday of Kim Jung Il, and the 70th Anniversary of the Foundation of People’s Army. On the other hand, South Korea will hold important events such as the World Cup, the Asian Games, municipal elections and the presidential election this year. Therefore, relations between South-North Korea will be in a suspended state for some time.[26]

In light of the fact that Bush’s Northeast Asia tour is now finished, North Korea is not unlikely to accept the 4th meeting of dispersed families of South Korea and North Korea and resumption of the South-North Korea Minister Talks in order to achieve desperate aims of North Korean unity, economic benefit, strategy on South Korea and improvement of its relation with Japan and the U.S. The strategic goals of North Korea are to raise money for holding the primary events, obtaining fertilizer support in a timely manner and to encourage many South Koreans to participate in the ‘Arirang Festival’. To this end, North Korea tries to push forward with at least contact and conversation with South Korea. However, North Korea is very unlikely to be in a great hurry regarding issues such as the connection of the Kyungeui Line, the overland tour of Keum Kang Mountain, or the construction of the Gaesung Industrial Complex, which may have adverse effects on North Korean population.


V. Multilateral Approach to the Security Issues on the Korean Peninsula


1. Transformation of the Present Armistice Regime into a Peace Regime


The Armistice agreement has served as the principal instrument in preserving the fragile peace on the Korean peninsula since the conclusion of the agreement in 1953 to end the Korean War. However, North Korea has recently taken a series of unilateral actions to undermine the present armistice regime with its demand for a U.S.-North Korean peace treaty. The current situation of the armistice regime has ensued partly from the failure of the two Koreas’ attempts to convert the armistice regime into a solid state of peace at the prime ministers’ talks which were held during 1990-1992.

It was during the fifth high-level talks in Seoul that the two sides successfully negotiated the agreement on reconciliation, nonaggression, and exchanges and cooperation (often referred to as the basic agreement) in December 1991. This historic pact was followed by the adoption of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula (often referred to as the joint declaration) on December 31, 1991. The basic agreement and the joint declaration finally came into force in February 1992, when their ratified documents were exchanged during the sixth high-level talks in Pyongyang.

The basic agreement consists of twenty-five articles including conversion of the armistice into a durable peace (article 5), maintaining the existing military declaration line established by the armistice to define a zone of nonaggression (article 11); establishment of a North-South joint military commission within three months to advance various confidence-building measures and promote disarmament (article 12); and installing direct telephone links between the military authorities to prevent accidental conflict. Nonetheless, the basic agreement did not materialize, as the stalemate of the North-South nuclear talks in 1992 stalled any progress in implementing the basic agreement. As a consequence, the agreement is one thing, but its implementation is another matter.


2.      North Korean Nuclear Problem: Unsuccessful North-South Bilateral     Approach


When the two Koreas agreed on the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in December 1991, it appeared that their governments could solve the nuclear problem. As soon as the joint declaration came into effect in February 1992 at the sixth prime minister’s talks held in Pyongyang, however, the two sides came to dispute on interpreting and implementing the joint declaration.

In the subsequent meetings, it became clear that the South and the North could not agree on the method of mutual nuclear inspection. The South emphasized that special inspections, along with routine inspections, were needed to completely dispel nuclear suspicions. The North was against special inspection on the ground that this idea ran counter to article 4 of the joint denuclearization declaration, which calls for “inspection of objects which one side chooses and both sides agree on”. In turn, the South claimed that special inspections be permitted under the provision of article 4 that defined a positive concept: In order to effectively embody the purpose and spirit of the joint declaration, the other side should agree when one side selects a target for inspection.

In the end, the North-South talks on the nuclear issues failed to materialize beyond the thirteenth meeting on December 17, 1992. The 1993 South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises called Team Spirit gave the North an excuse for unilaterally suspending all inter-Korean talks, including those by the joint Nuclear Control Committee (JNCC).


3.      North Korea’s Attempts for Bilateral Negotiations with the U.S.


In the 1992 basic agreement, North Korea pledged to “endeavor to transform the present state of armistice into a solid state of peace between the South and the North, and to abide by the present Military Armistice Agreement until such a state of peace has been realized” (article 5). But Pyongyang has recently issued more frequent demands for a bilateral peace treaty with the U.S. North Korea, moreover, has taken a series of unilateral measures to undermine the current armistice regime: first, paralyzing the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) by withdrawing its own delegation and pressing China to recall its delegation from the Commission; and then closing down the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) by expelling its Polish members from North Korea. In April 1996, North Korean authorities unilaterally declared the abandonment of its obligation relating to the maintenance and management of the Military Demarcation Line and Demilitarized Zone, and sent armed soldiers into the northern sector of the Joint Security Area of Panmunjum. Such unilateral acts resulted in the virtual suspension of the operation of the armistice mechanism.

In addition to North Korea’s immediate challenges to the armistice regime, there is a more fundamental necessity for the transformation of such a regime. The Cold War structure of political and ideological confrontation upon which the Korean armistice regime is based has been substantially relaxed over the past several years. South Korea normalized relations with its former opponents, the Soviet Union (now Russia) and China. North Korea is now endeavoring to improve relations with its archenemies, the U.S. and Japan. Such a trend of reconciliation and realignment suggests that the time is ripe for terminating the state of war in Korea and introducing a more stable and durable regime of peace on the Korean peninsula. However, relations between the two Koreas, the improvement of which is the core element of the prospective peace regime, lack any meaningful reconciliation largely because of Pyongyang’s recent policy of isolating Seoul and negotiating directly with Washington.


4. The Normalization of U.S.-North Korean Relations


The U.S. announced measures relaxing its sanctions against North Korea on September 17, 1999. The significance of this is that it marked the first step toward the normalization of economic ties between the U.S. and North Korea.

As early as 1995, the U.S. began to relax its sanctions against North Korea by permitting the import of North Korean magnets. Such economic transactions between the two countries, however, have not been substantialized during the intervening years. The 2nd step of relaxation, announced on September 17, 1999, cleared the way for American companies to engage in economic activity with North Korean partners.

For example, free trade with North Korea is guaranteed, and financial services and capital flow are liberalized, thereby allowing American companies to invest in the fields of agriculture, mining, petroleum, wood, cement, transportation, road, harbor and airport facilities, and the travel and tourism industries. American-registered ships and aircraft needed to conduct such business are able to provide service to and from North Korea.

Regarding the Perry Report of 1999 and the U.S. government’s lifting of economic sanctions against North Korea, some critics have charged that they do not contain enough ‘red lines’ (countermeasures) to apply against North Korea if it fails to fulfill its promise.

With rise of the Bush administration, U.S. strategy on North Korea experienced a fundamental change. Bush’s diplomacy and security team expects that Pyungyang has not the will to reform but will open and continue to ‘deal’ with the West, including the U.S., by using the ‘WMD card’ to sustain the Kim Jung-Il regime. Therefore, Washington has taken a position such that the U.S. delivers a clear-cut and resolved message to Pyungyang to prevent the North Korean government from taking any misjudged actions in the way of threats of trial missile launchings, such as the trial launching of the Daepodong missile in September 1999. The U.S. government argues that Korea, the U.S. and Japan must strengthen mutual cooperation and build the WMD system. Regarding this change in Bush’s strategy toward Pyungyang, the Trilateral Coordination Oversight Group (TCOG) concludes as follows:

First, as a basic principle of relations with North Korea, negotiations with Pyungyang on every problem must be done in a verifiable way. ‘Perry process’-type nonexclusive reciprocity must be abandoned. Quid pro quo must be used on a case-by-case basis and conducted phase-by-phase. Occasional discussion with allies, including Korea and Japan, must also be done case-by-case and phase-by-phase.

Second, as long as North Korea fulfills the Geneva agreement (on the nuclear problem) of August 1994, in good faith, the U.S. will support Pyungyang’s fulfillment of the agreement. However, the U.S. government must avoid negotiating nuclear missile and terror problems simultaneously, thereby differing from the Clinton administration. In other words, the problem of long-mid-and-short range missile exports and the placement of missiles which threaten neighboring countries must be solved on the basis of thorough verification.

Third, the ploy of removing North Korea from the list of terror-supporting countries must not be used as a political incentive for embracing Pyungyang. As previously mentioned, the U.S. government demands that the North Korean government show ‘verifiable change’. If Pyungyang takes a defensive position to this, North Korea-U.S. relations may come to a standstill. Thus, it is all up to North Korea if Pyungyang-Washington relations progress toward peace in Northeast Asia, or simply mark time under continued tension as a residual of the past cold war. The positions and countermeasures of those countries concerned can be summarized in the following manner.

Meanwhile, North Korea announced that the changes in the U.S. position vis-à-vis North Korea were ‘appropriate’, and that North Korea would ‘faithfully cooperate with them’. During high-level talks with the United States, North Korea declared that it would not engage in any further missile testing (Joongang Tongsin, Joongang Broadcasting, Foreign Minister Paik Nam-soon’s speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations, September 21 to 25, 1999). In order for North Korea to overcome its economic difficulties, particularly food shortages, and to solidify the Kim Jong-Il regime, North Korea will focus on improving relations with the United States, while at the same time maintaining its longstanding relationships with China and Russia. With the improvement of relations with the United States, North Korea will benefit by the relaxation of economic sanctions, the inflow of foreign capital, and the resumption of negotiations regarding compensation from Japan. Taking a more practical and compromising stance than in the past, North Korea is expected to abandon its previous policy of “only with the United States – approachment with Japan - resistance against South Korea”, replacing it with the policy of “first priority to the United States, and after that South Korea and Japan”.

While the symbolic value of the lifting of economic sanctions against North Korea is great, in practical terms the effects will be minimal. As a way to maximize these practical effects, North Korea is expected to focus on improving relations with Japan. In 1998, North Korea’s foreign trade volume totaled U.S.$ 1.44 billion, and its GDP U.S.$ 12.6 billion. Alongside the modest figures, Japanese compensation in the range of just U.S.$5-10 billion would clearly provide a very significant boost to the North Korean economy within a short period of time. Accordingly, the introduction of Japanese compensation through food and social overhead capital sectors will facilitate the recovery of North Korea’s industrial base, which, together with the lifting of economic sanctions, will ultimately serve to attract foreign investment.[27]

The recent North Korean policy of openness can be viewed as ‘contradictory’, as shown in the revision of the Constitution in September 1998, and in editorials of newspapers of ‘Nodong Daily Newspaper’ and ‘Kunroja’ on September 17, 1998.

First, the constitutional revisions of September 1998: (1) extended private property rights and the scale of private property; (2) stressed profitability of business activities and the need for economic progress; and (3) extended the subjects and criteria of foreign trade, thereby forming a legal base for the country’s reform and openness policies.

Second, editorials jointly published in the ‘Nodong Daily Newspaper’ and ‘Kunroja’ on September 17, 1998 said that: (1) the priority given to heavy industry will be maintained in North Korean economic planning; (2) the market economy, reforms and openness policies are all rejected; and (3) in order to spark recovery of the economy, North Korea will once again stress its home-grown juche policy of self-help.

Kim Jong-il’s ‘contradictory’ economic policy seems to be aimed fundamentally at maintaining existing conservative ideology in order to retain his hold over the people, while at the same time instituting those reforms and openness policies necessary to boost its ailing economy.


5. Multilateral Approach: Four-Party Peace Talks


Against this backdrop, in April 1996, South Korean President Kim Young Sam and United States President Bill Clinton jointly proposed a four-way meeting to initiate a process aimed at achieving a durable peace agreement on the Korean peninsula with the participation of North Korea and China. The proposal for four-way peace talks was a compromised solution on the part of South Korea which previously argued that the two Koreas themselves should hammer out a new peace treaty with an endorsement or guarantee by relevant countries. The South Korean government abandoned its previous position and adopted a multilateral approach in the format of four-way talks.

North Korea needed to proceed with the four-party peace talks for several reasons. North Korea was in a very difficult position to reject the U.S. proposed peace talks because the North gives a high policy priority to improving its relationship with the U.S. for the regime's survival. The Kim Jung Il regime desperately sought the support of the U.S. for the international food aid to the North in an effort to maintain his political control at home. The North Korean military which had stepped up its demand for a United States-North Korean peace treaty had no choice but to support the four-party peace talks under the country’s worsening food shortage.

On the other hand, the Chinese government certainly supported the four-party peace talks in the belief that peace and stability on the Korean peninsula is essential to China’s own economic growth and political stability. Moreover, the role of China in the peace process of the Korean peninsula is also critical in maintaining and enhancing its influence on the Korean peninsula as well as in East Asia.


6. South Korea’s Security Options in the Future


Under these conditions, what is the best security strategy South Korea should adopt in this century? When the U.S. withdraws its troops from South Korea, what is the most desirable security option? Before examining South Korea’s security strategy in the future, it is necessary to briefly discuss the country’s major security objectives.

As many other countries do, South Korea needs to safeguard the country under a liberal democracy, to preserve permanent independence through the peaceful unification of the fatherland, to realize a welfare state by guaranteeing Koreans' freedom and basic rights and improving their living standards, and to enhance national prestige and contribute to world peace by improving their international status. In other words, South Korea’s national goals include: political democracy, economic prosperity, national security, peaceful unification, and contribution to world peace. More specifically, South Korea puts a priority on peace over unification. Peace is South Korea’s ultimate goal, while unification is merely the process of attaining the peace on the Korea peninsula.

Particularly, when the U.S. reduces its overseas troops and pursues a type of non-intervention policy in this region, South Korea needs to contemplate a new security option. When the North Korean threat becomes lessened and the two Koreas peacefully coexist with increasing exchanges and cooperation in this century, the U.S. military presence in South Korea can no longer be justifiable. If the U.S. continues to station troops in South Korea, China will have suspicions regarding U.S. intentions and raise strong objections to the American military presence, which might result in confrontations between the U.S. and China.

How can South Korea attain national security and peace on the Korean peninsula in the 21st century? When we look at the possible security alliances and other security arrangements South Korea can make in this century, the country has four options: (1) maintenance of South Korea-U.S. security alliance; (2) a new security alliance with either China or Japan; (3) a South Korea-China-Japan security alliance; (4) a multilateral security cooperation regime in Northeast Asia.

In the case that South Korea attempts to make a new security alliance with China, there will be some obstacles and problems to overcome in the development of such a South Korea-China alliance, as neither the U.S. nor Japan would allow China to become a hegemonic power in this region. Under such a pact, because South Korea would continue to depend on U.S. and Japanese capital, market and technology, South Korea needs to be careful in changing its security alliance from the U.S. to China. If South Korea takes a side with China, its archrival Japan will not idly sit by. The Sino-Japan rivalry to seek more influence over the Korean peninsula will endanger the peace and security in Northeast Asia.

In the case that South Korea attempts to make a new security alliance with Japan, a large number of South Koreans will not support such a pact because of their still vivid memory of bitter Japanese colonial rule. South Korea will have difficulties to follow the Japanese leadership which has a differing view of the future.

Consequently, a South Korea-China-Japan security alliance is the most desirable option, but unfortunately is not feasible in the near future. Since South Korea, China and Japan have similar cultural backgrounds, it is assumed that they prefer forming and maintaining a new security alliance against the outside powers. These countries have a mandate to create a new order in this region by making a security alliance, since the U.S. is virtually an Atlantic power. However, there are many obstacles to be overcome in order to carry out this option. These three countries still need more time to alleviate their mistrust and suspicion of each other due to the legacy of the colonial rule. Because China is a continental power, and Japan is a maritime power, the two countries have different security strategies with different perceptions of threats to security, which would make it difficult to form an alliance. China is more concerned with direct threats from their neighboring countries such as Russia, India, and Vietnam, while Japan does not feel any threat from either India or Vietnam.

Considering the feasibility and desirability, we can conclude that South Korea needs to continue to keep its present security alliance with the U.S., and maintain its friendly relationships with Japan, China, Russia and other neighboring countries. The multilateral approach is intended to promote cooperative security in Northeast Asia. Multilateral security cooperation regime includes confidence building measures and arms control in a way to prevent any conflict in advance. A key operational focus of the cooperative security process is to establish habits of dialogue. To prevent disputes from arising between countries and to prevent existing conflicts from escalating into disputes, much dialogue and many consultations are needed.

The advantages of the option of multilateral security cooperation regime include the fact that South Korea alone can not stand against China, Russia, or Japan, all of which have the capability to produce nuclear weapons. If South Korea alone attempts to prevent any threat from these countries, the country will need to pay enormous costs for military buildup. South Korea is far better off to request that the U.S. to play the role of honest broker in maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. As the U.S. is geographically a non-regional power and trustworthy, the South Korea-U.S. security alliance would contribute to maximizing the national interests of both sides. It must be emphasized that such a multilateral security cooperation regime is not an alternative to, but rather a supplement to the South Korea-U.S. bilateral security alliance.

There is also another reason for which a multilateral approach is working better than a bilateral approach in dealing with the Korean security maters. As the KEDO demonstrates, a multilateral approach is more acceptable to North Korea than a bilateral one since the former is perceived less threatening by the North Korean leaders as their regime struggles for survival.

Over the past few years, some initiatives and efforts have been taken to launch a multilateral security dialogue in Northeast Asia. For instance, in 1994, South Korea proposed a “Northeast Asia Security Dialogue (NEASED)”, which is a consultative forum to develop a regional framework for peace in this region. However, South Korea’s initiative of NEASED has failed to yield any concrete results. No matter how slow the current pace is, it is worth pursuing to develop the NEASED process which would help to overcome old feuds, build trust and confidence, and provide an atmosphere for further cooperation and consultation. NEASED should be regarded as a supplement to South Korea’s existing alliance system, and a long-term project to pursue with patience.

In conclusion, the multilateral approach is more effective than a North-South Korea bilateral approach to solving the security issues on the Korean peninsula, and a multilateral security cooperation regime in Northeast Asia is necessary to prevent any conflict in advance on the Korean peninsula as well as in this region.

The South Korean people and government need to put a priority on a multilateral approach over a bilateral approach in dealing with the security issues of the Korean peninsula. This does not mean that bilateral negotiations between the two Koreas or a bilateral approach or strategy are useless or unnecessary. Both multilateral and bilateral approaches are complementary. No one doubts that an inter-Korean approach remains the essential part of establishing peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.


  A progress in the multilateral approach to the Korean security problems would create a foundation for the future development of the multilateral security dialogue and cooperation in Northeast Asia as well as in the Asia-Pacific. A habit of dialogue and cooperation in connection with the resolution of the Korean conflict is likely to develop a new multilateral network which can deal similarly with regional security problems. A multilateral security network in Northeast Asia in the future can work together with the existing ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) in preventing and resolving military and security conflicts in the Asia-Pacific. In addition, the tension reductions and confidence building measures on the Korean peninsula would contribute to developing peace and security in Northeast Asia as well as in the Asia-Pacific region.



VI. Conclusion


The Korean peninsula has been a very important region for securing peace and cooperation in the international political, military and economic arenas. It should be noted that a peace settlement in the region must be the precondition for regional economic cooperation, especially in view of the critical situation that North Korea created when it fired the long-range Kwangmyungsung 1 missile on August 31, 1998, and North Korea’s nuclear threat (e.g., the trial launching of the Daepodong missile in September 1999) to international security.

Therefore, the present armistice regime should be transformed into a peace regime. To achieve such a transformation, there have been many attempts at the domestic and international level: for example, the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation (often referred to as the Basic Agreement) and the adoption of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in December 1991, the Geneva Agreement between North Korea and the United States on Nuclear Facilities Inspections on August 5-12, 1994, the launching of the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO) on March 9, 1995, the Perry Report of 1999, and U.S. President George W. Bush’s Northeast Asia tour of summit diplomacy including the South Korea-U.S. summit talk held on March 7, 2002.

Under the previously described situation, the Korean people should recognize that peace on the Korean peninsula is a national goal, both ultimate and immediate, whereas national reunification is merely the process of attaining peace on the Korean peninsula. It is a historic truth that peace can be settled by security. The security order of the Far East should be based on military ties to secure individual security as well as to maintain the balance of power in the case of such threats as a possible breakdown of the North Korean government, a threat from China, or Japan’s emergence as a new military power. In order to assure a cooperative system for the Far East, the European-type collective security system can be an alternative, which is characterized by the post-modernization and post-cold war system.

From the experience from NATO, it will take a great deal of time to establish such a collective security system. In addition, despite the fact that the Far East has an economy of huge scale, dynamics and a high rate of mutually beneficial complements among nations, the sharp political and military confrontation, i.e. the legacy of the cold war, has been a hindrance to the establishment of an international division of local specialties within the region. Accordingly, in order to rid ourselves of the leftovers of the cold war system in this region, we must pursue an economic cooperation through localized economic zones based on economically complementary relationships within the region, and, one step further, we must pursue market-led functional integration based on market theory. Such a market-led functional integration, however, will take a great deal of time due to differences of economic systems as well as the differing levels of economic development of each member country in this region.

Here, the issue that we can raise is what will be the systematic instrument and practical measures which can secure a multilateral security system, and at the same time satisfy a unity of economic cooperation in this region. One of answers is the establishment of the Northeast Asia Peace City (NEAPC), which the author has previously suggested in 1988.[28]

The author has defined the NEAPC as a special ‘free city’ in which pan-national and ideology-free administrative theories are applied, the free flow of labor, products, capital and service is guaranteed, all tariff and non-tariff barriers are removed, and technical and physical barriers do not exist. Regarding to the concept of the NEAPC, ‘Tanchihi Free City’ is a good example of a free city between nations and international organizations.[29] This free city was created in 1919 by the agreement of the major allied nations and participating allied nations under the auspices of the United Nations based on the Versailles Peace Treaty. The NEAPC will have the following characteristics:

First, the NEPAC will be a sort of a neutral nation with a free ideology, free politics, and free military characteristics. Under the basis of ‘the Basic Agreement between South Korea and North Korea’ and a multilateral agreement for the development of the NEPAC, the third party formed by the four powers of the United States, China, Japan and Russia and the two Koreas will take responsibility for administration of this city. In a word, South Korea and North Korea as well as four powers will jointly construct the NEPAC. Jangdan-myon, located within the demilitarized zone of the ceasefire line, is selected as the most ideal place for it.

Second, in order for the NEPAC to be constructed and be operated smoothly, ‘The Basic Agreement between South and North Korea’, like ‘the Basic Agreement between East and West Germany’, signed in 1972, and ‘the Economic Cooperation Agreement’ (a trade agreement, an investment protection agreement and a tax agreement, etc.) should be signed respectively. Based on which, ‘The Multilateral Agreement Designed to Construct the NEPAC’ should be signed.

The important point here is to turn the legal status of South and North Korea from its current cease-fire status to a peace status. Again, in order to turn the confrontational relationship between South and North Korea into a peaceful relationship of coexistence, ‘the Basic Agreement between South and North Korea’ should be signed. In this case, the two points overlooked in ‘the South-North Korea Agreement’ of December 1991 should be included: (1) it is not a simple inviolability, but it is a renunciation of the use and threat of military force in conformation with Article 4, Chapter II of the UN Charter; (2) the respect of human rights should also be included. Finally, ‘the Basic Agreement of South and North Korea’ should undergo the process of consultation and ratification of the National Assembly, as was the case in Germany.

Third, companies which will be invited to the NEPAC will be joint ventures of South and North Korea, or multinational companies, which transcend ideology. Regulations pertaining to their economic activities within this city should be in conformation with agreements signed by both parties as well as the ‘Basic Agreement between South and North Korea’. Such international organizations of the UN, including the UNDP, the ESCAP and the UNIDO, will facilitate and activate economic cooperation between South and North Korea and international industrial cooperation.

Fourth, in order to expand economic exchanges between South and North Korea and international industrial cooperation, and to guarantee the safety of companies which operate their business within this city, a so-called ‘Committee for Economic Cooperation in the Far East’ should be established. Discretionary rights and legal rights, based on the WTO agreement, should be given to this Committee, and this Committee should be permanently stationed in the NEPAC. This Committee will prepare a variety of systems including an investment guarantee, and it will engage in issuing letters of credit as well as in the resolution of clearance contracts between the central banks of South and North Korea.

Finally, the author (1995 and 2000) has presented that there are three national objectives for Korea in the 21st century: domestically, a society that guarantees the greatest happiness for the greatest majority must be created based on humanitarian principles; a reunified nation must be constructed for the people; and the Korean people must take a leading role in the coming Asia-Pacific Age.

The present internal situations of the two Koreas are in a very bad shape: the South Korean economy has not yet recovered from the structurally difficult situation since the IMF emergency loan system which was initiated in November 1997; it is well known that North Korean economy has been declining over the past decade with continuing food crises and serious famine. The two Koreas have strong imperatives to restructure their economic systems, which cannot be completed within a few years. In this situation, the governments of the two Koreas need more conciliatory policies toward each other in other to concentrate on their economic reforms, although the reality is quite different.

Particularly for Korean reunification, the author (1993, 1994 and 1997) has presented a new model based on the five-step approach: (1) preparation, (2) economic integration, (3) social integration, (4) political integration, and (5) military integration. It is true that the summit talk between Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea and Kim Jong-Il of North Korea on June 15, 2000 has made a good contribution to ‘the preparation stage’ in the five-step unification model for a long way to approach to national reunification. To accelerate it, economic integration in the most effective way for the following integration steps, which can be practically started by “South-North Korean Special Economic Zone” which the author proposed for the past ten years.

In order to search for a new South Korean security strategy, it is necessary to discuss the prospects for inter-Korean relations which depend to a greater extent on the transformation of North Korea. At the risk of oversimplification, there are three possible scenarios: (1) North Korea’s status quo and inter-Korean confrontation; (2) North Korea’s gradual reform and coexistence between North and South; (3) the collapse of the Kim Jong Il regime and a new regime or unification. In all probability, the second possibility is most likely to emerge in the future.

To achieve the three national objectives described above, Korea must first solve the five crises: security, political, social and cultural, economic and education crisis. The establishment of a Northeast Asian Peace City (NEAPC) can be an approach to the ‘general’ crisis and Korea’s vision in the 21st Century. Tanchihi Free City which was created in 1919 under the Versailles Peace Treaty is a good example for the NEAPC’s concept. NEAPC can be developed with the cooperation of such international organizations of the UN as UNDP, ESCAP and UNIDO. And the function of the NEAPC can be developed into multilateral security cooperation regime in Northeast Asia.






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[1] The first U.S.-Russian Summit was held in Helsinki in March 1997; U.S.-China Summits were held in October 1997 in Washington, D. C., and in June 1998 in Beijing; the Japan-Russian Summit was held in April 1998 in Tokyo; and the Japan-China Summit was held in the Autumn of 1998 in Tokyo.

[2] United States Department of Defense, The Quadrennial Defense Review, May 1997.

[3] “Rapid coldness in the U.S.-North Korea relation,” Chosun Daily, Jan 31, 2002.

[4] Okonogi, a professor at the Geio University in Japan, said, “Bush intends to rebuild the U.S. relation with the three East Asian countries on the basis of the ‘war against terror’.” Dong-A Ilbo, Feb 29, 2002.

[5] Dong-A Ilbo, Feb 19, 2002.

[6] Chosun Daily, Feb 29, 2002.

[7] It is agreed generally that the terrorist attacks on the U.S. played a big role in promoting and enhancing the US-Sino relation. Dong-A Ilbo, Feb 22, 2002.

[8] Wu Gwo Gwang, a professor at the Zhong Wen University in Hong Kong, said “the two countries had deep understanding of each other through this summit talk.” Dong-A Ilbo, Feb 22, 2002.

[9] Chosun Daily, Feb 22, 2002.

[10] Bush says “we won’t invade North Korea.” Jung-angilbo, Feb 21, 2002.

[11] However, Bush said, “I am disappointed that Pyungyang does not accept Sunshine Policy.” Chosun Daily, Feb 21, 2002.

[12] “South Korea-U.S. Summit Talk: How North Korea Will React?” Chosun Daily, Feb 21, 2002.

[13] Pyungyang Broadcasting, Mar 18, 1999.

[14] Weekly North Korean Report, Issue 521, Jan 2001, pp. 6-12 and pp. 12-14.

[15] Dong-A Ilbo, Jan 3, 2002.

[16] Yonhap News, Jan 2, 2002.

[17] Three appeals comprised fulfillment of June 15 Declaration, improvement of Seoul-Pyungyang relation and vitalization of reunification movement, and elimination of obstacles to peace and reunification. Three proposals were to set this year as ‘an year of encouraging unity and reunification by our nation’, Day of Opening Reunification Door by Our Nation (Jun 15), and Period of Movement for Unifying Ourselves by Our Nation (May to August). (Pyungyang, Jan 22, 2002)

[18] Dong-A Ilbo, Jan 23, 2002.

[19] Yonhap News, Nov 15, 2001.

[20] Chosun Daily, Sep 16, 2001; Dong-A Ilbo, Oct 4, 2001.

[21] “Threat Does Not Work,” Labor News, Feb 20, 2002.

[22] Chosun Central News, Feb 22, 2002.

[23] Reportedly, Constantin Pulikovski, Far-East Representative Plenipotentiary of Russian President, who visited North Korea for three days from February 10, said so. Chosun Daily, Feb 18, 2002.

[24] Bush’s definition of ‘Kim Jung Il regime as sole target’ might be one encouraging internal turbulence and cause North Korea to feel it as larger threat. Chosun Daily, Feb 21, 2002.

[25] Pyungyang Broadcasting, Jan 7, 2002. On December 9, Labor News argued “rational reunification method considering reality is federation based reunification, coinciding with the effects of June 15 Joint Declaration.”

[26] Yonhap News, Nov 13, 2001.

[27] Japan has insisted that we should have a safe instrument in the face of the missile threat from North Korea. It followed the course of missile negotiations with North Korea with particular sensitivity, and welcomed the North Korean announcement, under the pressure of public opinion, will now focus on proving the truthfulness of North Korea’s intentions through behind-the-scenes contact with South Korea, the United States, and North Korea, rather than through official government-level talks.

[28] Yang-Taek Lim (1998).

[29] Eckart Klein (1987).

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