::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
       February 27 2021
Internal and External Conditions for the Accomplishment of South-North Korea Summit Meeting by Sunhyuk Kim
- 'Entrance Theory' vs. 'Exit Theory'
- The Significance and Limits of the 'Peace Initiative'
- 'Proposal for Peaceful Korean Peninsula'
'Entrance Theory' vs. 'Exit Theory'

There are two conflicting viewpoints on the linkage between the North Korean nuclear issue and the South-North Korea summit meeting. The first standpoint is that South-North Korea summit meeting must become an 'entrance' or a 'breakthrough' in solving the North Korean nuclear issue in this state of stagnant six-way talks. According to such an 'entrance theory' or 'breakthrough theory', South-North Korea summit meetings are a means to a settlement of the North Korean nuclear issue. The second perspective is that the South-North Korea summit meeting must be an 'exit' or a 'completion'once the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved to a certain degree. According to such an 'exit theory' or 'completion theory', solution to the North Korean nuclear issue is a prerequisite to the South-North Korea summit meeting.

The Korean government is officially taking an 'exit' or 'completion theory' rather than an 'entrance' or 'breakthrough theory' stance when concerning the South-North Korea summit meeting. This is altogether reflected in the complex reality the Korean government has been facing in connection to the North Korean nuclear issue. The biggest problem with this is that it sets forth as prerequisites several extremely unrealistic and unreasonableconditions that the Korean government cannot control or regulate at all. In order to make practical use of a South-North Korea summit meeting as a means of a 'breakthrough' solution to the nuclear issue, three very intricate domestic and foreign conditions must be met: cooperation of North Korea, understanding of the US and internal mutual consent.

Above all, as the president stated at the annual press conference, the South-North Korea summit meeting is a matter that includes a 'partner'. Even if one side actively pursues dialogue, it cannot be achieved if the other side does not respond. However, as many specialists indicate, it is very obscure whether North Korea will accept a South-North Korea summit meeting at a situation in which the nuclear issue is not yet resolved. North Korea believes that the nuclear issue is essentially a problem between North Korea and the U.S. Moreover, North Korea discredits South Korea as a nation without independent decision-making abilities. Thus, it is highly unlikely that North Korea will participate in a summit meeting, especially in a meeting with the settlement of the nuclear issue as the main subject. Second, it is quite unclear whether the U.S. will approve or agree with the idea of holding a South-North Korea summit meeting in order to settle the nuclear problem. For the US, the reelection of Bush has given momentum to the intentions to 'transform the structure' of 'an outpost of despotism,' which is waging a crusade for problems against proponents such as freedom, human rights, and democracy. As a result, it is highly likely that it will not want its negotiating power in North Korea to weaken. Further, with the existence of six-way talks still holding as the main ground of discussion for solutions to the North Korean nuclear issue, it will probably be difficult to get the consent of the US on the need of a separate South-North Korea summit meeting. Finally, it is by no means an easy guiding national consensus to a South-North Korea summit meeting.

In other words, before questioning whetherthe current government has the will and ability to adopt or pursue an 'entrance theory' or 'breakthrough theory', there were many excessive barriers from the start for it to be a feasible method of approach. Accordingly, after contemplating a variety of considerations, it seems that the government itself chose to approach the South-North Korean summit meeting from an 'exit theory' or 'completion theory' point of view.


The Significance and Limitations of a 'Peace Initiative'

Since the reelection of President Bush, President Roh Moo-hyun reaffirmed Korea's exiting on three principles for the North Korean nuclear issue which states "disuse of North Korean nuclear weapons, a peaceful solution through dialogue, and Korea's active role." For the past two years since the inauguration of President Roh, Korea and the U.S. have collectively advocated North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons, stressing the most, among the three principles, on 'disuse of North Korean nuclear weapons'. However, from this point on, Korea will shift its relative vital point to a "peaceful solution through dialogue" and "Korea's active role." President Roh clearly stated that the U.S. and Korean national interests may not coincide. Nevertheless, Korea will not be afraid to express such possibilities to the American side. Such displays of intentions of the so-called 'Roh Moo-hyun initiative' have been repeatedly expressed through various remarks by the president and the unification minister this year.

It is necessary to examine what specific contents of ideas the Roh government is advocating from the viewpoint of an 'exit theory' or 'completion theory'. The Korean government's 'Peace Initiative', presented by the unification minister during the Berlin speech titled: 'Peace on the Korean Peninsula and the Historical Choice: Korea's Strategy,' constitutes two important premises and demands towards both North Korea and the U.S. The two premises are: 1) war is not an option on the Korean peninsula and 2) the North Korean regime is relatively stable. In his speech Minister Chung Dong-young strained "'military action' is not an option from Korea's standpointwhich still carries many memories of war" and stressed that "peaceful coexistence through acknowledgment and solution through dialogue is the core" of Korea's North Korean policy. Moreover, he emphasized that "the possibility of collapse of the North Korean regime is low and overall is deemed that the Kim Jung Il regime is stable" and the "collapse of the North Korean regime is not only unlikely, but also undesirable."

Having these two major premises as a basis, the 'Peace Initiative'is demanding both North Korea and the U.S. important 'decisions' and 'selection'. First of all, for North Korea, it insisted on the selection of an alternative 'durable economic development' plan, and 'a strategic decision' called 'abandonment of nuclear weapons'. If North Korea accepts these options, Korea will create an environment in which North Korea can take the opportunity of common prosperity through the Kaesong industrial complex as well as specific economic cooperation. Korea made it clear that it has intentions to promote comprehensive agricultural cooperation such as food,fertilizers, and farming implements. It will also systematically support and cooperate in raising North Korea's agricultural productivity, improving agricultural structure, and creating agricultural foundation. Moreover, Korea explained "as soon as North Korea begins the process of abandonment of nuclear weapons, Korea plans to give 'comprehensive and concrete North Korean support' which means large scale economic support."Likewise, it is made clear that Korea plans to promote business cooperation in the energy sphere such as electric power, expansion of tourist cooperation, and the revamping of the traffic and transportation infrastructure. On the other hand, in the case of the U.S., Korea "welcomes the second Bush administration's reconfirmation of a peaceful and diplomatic settlement policy through six way talks." Korea explained, "in order to include North Korea in international society, economic cooperation is more effective than military pressure or blockade"and that we "need to negotiate to settle the North Korean nuclear issue radically through comprehensive approaches." In short, in terms of North Korea, Korea clearly displayed everything that it can offer North Korea once North Korea abandons its nuclear weapons program, and in terms of the U.S., Korea demanded a peaceful and comprehensive solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

The present government's 'peace initiative' is drawn up on the 'exit theory' which is said to be more 'realistic' than an 'entrance theory.' The South-North Korean summit meeting is the 'exit' for the North Korean nuclear issue and is presented as the 'festival'of dismantlement of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula. However, domestic as well as foreign conditions that need to be created in order to realize the South-North Korea summit meeting as the 'exit' or 'end'of dismantlement of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula is not much different from the 'unrealistic' and 'uncontrollable' suppositions presented in an 'entrance theory'. Hence lays the true agony of the present government's 'peace initiative'. With concerns with the North Korean nuclear issue, compared to the 'entrance theory,' which considers '한국의 당사자화' through the South-North Korea summit meeting as the main objective, 'exit theory' continues to lay down the North Korean nuclear issue as North Korea's and the U.S.'s problem. It is exceptional only in that the 'peace initiative' officially explicitly expresses: demands it unilaterally insisted only to North Korea to both North Korea and the US; the possibility of divergence of national interest with the US that has not yet been displayed; and compensations that Korea will offer if North Korea abandons nuclear weapons. However, presently these are all nothing but verbal declaratory orders. Following efforts must be made in order to get North Korea and the US to execute such verbal orders into practice and action.


'Proposal for a Peaceful Korean Peninsula'

First of all, the government must expand and extend the 'peace initiative', presented by the unification minister during his Berlin Speech, into a holistic and concrete 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula'. There are mainly three matters that the 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula' needs to include and to materialize. First, we ought toexplain philosophical and historical reasons why we must opposethe recurrence of war and construct a peace structure on the Korean peninsula, and lay out a general vision towards a new national history that will be attained through peace and the world's new image of the future. Second, in the 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula', we must go beyond settlement to the North Korean nuclear issue and convert the armistice agreement to a peace agreement. Moreover, we must present sure and specificsolutions on how to end the Cold War-like situation and construct peace on the Korean peninsula and courses leading to those solutions that include plans to earnestly propel arms control. Finally, the 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula' must convincingly prove how peace on the Korean peninsula, in connection to the 'Northeast Asian age,' relates to peace and prosperity of northeast Asia. In summary, the current 'peace initiative' must develop into a holistic proposal that shows how matters such as a settlement to the North Korean nuclear issue, end of the Cold War structure on the Korean peninsula, peace-building, peace and prosperity of Northeast Asia, are connected uniformly and systematically.

Presently the 'peace initiative'specifically and comprehensively states economic compensations that North Korea will receive once it abandons its nuclear weapons, but there are absolutely no references for military compensations. However, exchange and cooperation or 'economic compensation'does not mean much without military reconciliation. North Korea will be able to make a forward-looking grand resolution only when a more macroscopic and holistic approach that guarantees security of the North Korean structure and arms control and opening of negotiations for reductionof armaments is clearly presented. At the foreign affairs declaration on February 10th, North Korea stated that it will "inevitably indefinitely suspend participation to the six-way talks until it is acknowledged that satisfactory requisites and atmosphere has been created to expect results from the conference," and advocated that "the reason that the six-way talks fell into stalemate is because of the U.S.'s hostile policy." By 'satisfactory requisites and atmosphere', North Korea means a clear outlook on the assurance of security of the organizationthrough cessation of adversarial military confrontation and arms race between North Korea and America and between South and North Korea which has continued on for the past 60 years.

Finally, what is crucial in this matter is an explanation and the persuasion of the U.S. Based on our information of North Korea, we must be able to clearly explain the limits of U.S.'s hard line policy towards the North, including militarymeasures and an economic blockade, and stress the relative stability and durability of the North Korean regime. We must especially stress the points that a hard line policy enlarges the possibility of North Korean provocation and thus amplifies security anxiety on all of the Korean peninsula. It may also bring about unpredictable consequences such as the implication of China and put not only the Korean peninsula but all of Northeast Asia into chaos and as a result cause a serious disturbance to the U.S.'s national interest. On the contrary, we must logically prove that peace and cooperation of the Korean peninsula and northeast Asia does not conflict with the U.S.'s military and economic interests but rather increase the U.S.'s national interest in the long run and justify their supreme status and strengthen its material basis. We also need to stress the point that the U.S., as a democratic state and ally, must respect the sovereign national interest of Korea, which is demonstrated through the 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula', drawn up with the consent and support of our government and civil society. Through such an active and diverse explanatory and persuasion process, it is necessary that we have the U.S. recognize the North Korean nuclear issue as extremely urgent and important, yet by all means be settled diplomatically and peacefully.

Entering the year 2005, the Korean government regulated the correlation between the South-North Korea summit meeting and the North Korean nuclear issue from an 'exit theory' point of view. The reason that the Korean government had no choice but to nevertheless choose the 'exit theory' standpoint regardless of constant setbacks and impotence that the Korean government has experienced on the North Korean nuclear issue which centered around 'North Korean and U.S. relations' is because of the impossibility of control and impossibility of realization of the conditions requested for the accomplishment of an 'entrance theory'-like South-North Korea summit meeting. However, although the Korean government chose 'exit theory', this does not mean that we can standby the nuclear issue between North Korea and the U.S. as a third party and ignore awareness to important problems that the 'entrance theory' proposes. More than anything, we must develop and expand 'peace initiative' which is now a mere declaratory demand and create a 'proposal for a peaceful Korean peninsula'that can organically connect matters such as a solution to the North Korean nuclear issue, the South-North Korean summit meeting, peace building and institutionalization of the Korean peninsula, and peaceful coexistence and prosperity of northeast Asia. Furthermore, after securing definite domestic and foreign mutual consent and support on it, we must swiftly get down to persuading North Korea and the U.S.
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