::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
       February 27 2021
Establishment and Negotiation of Agenda to the South-North Korea Summit Meeting by Lee Jung Chul
- Basic Principles of South-North Korean Relations and Process of South-North Korean Dialogue
- Unification Plan
- Contents of the Conference (Sectional Agenda on Politics•Military•Economy•Culture)
- Post Cold War Approach to Settlement and Negotiation of Agenda
If South-North Korea summit meeting is held, what should the leaders of South and North Korea discuss? Must we expansively discuss the core pending problems between South and North Korea as we did in the first historic summit meeting or limit the discussion to practical business problems, according with the new environment?

Though North Korea is recently emphasizing utility, it is limited to domestic economic problems only. There are no signs of alteration on the North Korean part that considers justification, prestige and national legitimacy important in diplomatic relations, especially in its relations with South Korea. In terms of South-North relations and summit meeting, it is true that North Korea still has as much interest in the legitimacy of President Roh Moo-hyun as a dialogue partner as much as what kind of benefits it will bring them. After all, the summit meeting is by no means at a level confined to pending or utility problems. Therefore summit meeting must be set up with appropriate formality and contents.

Basic Principles of South-North Korean Relations and Process of South-North Dialogue

If the second summit meeting is held, discussion on the basic principles of South-North Korean relations and unification must first be made. If the joint statement of 7.4 was a mutual agreement on “independence, peace(unification), and national unity,” then the ’91 South-North basic agreement was a agreement justifying South-North relations as a “particular relation temporarily formed in the process intended for unification rather than relations between nations.” And at the previous summit meeting, the two Koreas agreed that it would “work together to actively settle the unification problem on our own.”

Similarly there must be such an agreement in the second summit meeting as well that is abstract but deals with the core principles to regulate South-North relations or principle of unification. Of course we cannot leave out the position of neighboring countries in the course of this. Tacit pressures of neighboring countries may become a burden. However, more so it is necessary that we proceed with the negotiations united under a sense of mission and remind that it is the ground for establishing future coordinates of South-North relations and providing collaborative South-North conception on national value.

Hence it is very urgent and important to fixate this problem as the agenda and accordingly prepare for diverse controversies that may be raised. How about going beyond South-North relations and consulting on presenting the stature of unified Korean peninsula to the world? South-North Korean cooperation is not just a problem between South and North Korea. It is in fact an important matter in international relations itself, and thus we should present ways to extend inducements of North Korean understandings to the arena of international cooperation. Would it be too hasty to consult matters such as northeast Asian center theory or neutral national theory?

Another important matter besides the agreement on basic principles is debate on the process of South-North dialogue. In clause 5 of the previous joint declaration, the two sides “decided to open dialogue between the two countries at the earliest possible date in order to execute such agreed facts as soon as possible.” Though it was somewhat at an abstract level, the matters mentioned here directly led to opening of minister-level meeting and henceforth to the formation of basic dialogue between South and North Korea.

Moreover, what was most important in the first summit meeting was that “North Korean national defense Chairman Kim Jung-Il agreed to visit Seoul at an appropriate time” and so we agreed upon a second summit meeting and return visit of Chairman Kim. Acquiring North Korea’s conscious obligations by clearly stating it in the mutual agreement was especially a significant outcome. There are no dissents on the fact that the significance of South-North summits even tacitly agreeing upon regularizing summit meeting dialogue formalities and making South-North Korea summit meeting its uppermost decision-making instrument is not small. There are no dissents on the fact that there is great significance in the two leaders of South and North Korea, despite tacitly, agreeing on regularizing the summit meeting formalities and making the South-North Korea summit meeting its uppermost decision-making instrument.

Following this, the second summit meeting will also require agreements on dialogue formalities. Agreements on the framework of conferences such as future parliamentary meetings, minister-level meetings, or military general-level meetings may arise. The two Koreas may even debate specifically on plans for the regularization of South-North Korean summit meetings. How about taking this opportunity to specify the schedule, place and time of the third summit meeting? This would be a good idea since agreements on conference formalities such as regularization of conferences determines the outcome of the conference itself.

Unification Plan

Presently, the South-North Korea summit meeting is in fact a de facto unification plan of South Korea’s realization process of the Korean Commonwealth phase. The Korea Commonwealth plan is composed of three instruments: summit meetings, the council, and the Cabinet meetings. If we view the Council as substitution for assembly meetings and Cabinet meetings as substitution for minister-level talks, then the summit talks signifies the regularization of summit meetings. Accordingly, the second summit meeting indicates the regularization of summit meetings, and because this can directly be seen as the establishment of summit meetings, as the realization process of South-North Korean confederation, the summit meeting comes to represent rudimentary unification.

If a second summit meeting is realized, it is expected that there will be heated controversy between South and North Korea on this problem from the preliminary regulation stage. There will probably be tight opposing standpoints. The North will attempt to accomplish the federal system’s proposal in any possible form, and the South will stick to the position that it would be difficult to go further than the coalition level.

Because the past joint declaration was writing together merely at a level of the early stages of federation system and South Korea’s confederation system and referring to the commonness, greater agreements must be drawn out in the second joint declaration. But for our delegation that cannot ignore the conservative public opinion of the South, there must be a way to settle the acute rejections towards expressions of the federal system.

Though it is true that it is questionable whether there are ways to penetrate this dilemma between the two, the efforts between South and North Korea working to agree upon a more advanced unification plan is the request of northeast Asian generation as much a natural result of the development of South and North Korean relations. If the delegates of both sides discuss the matter with mutual trust, patience, and perseverance under such sense of duty, then we may anticipate deriving at another emergent conclusion.

Contents of the Conference (Politics•Military•Economic•Culture)

Contents that the second summit meeting must deal with are broad. The summit meeting must become a place for discussion on various spheres such as political military problems, economic exchange problems, and cultural cooperation.

As for political military issues, there are a variety of themes such as military and disarmament problems including NLL, unification problems, and foreign policy problems. However, considering the sensitivity of South-North Korean relations it would be favorable to set up the agenda successively. It would be best to intensify the range of themes and activate the debate further according to the development of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc stages.

First of all, it is certain that the main point of the agenda on political military problems at the summit meeting will be placed on restoration of dialogue. It is prospected that the discussions will lead to agreeing on uninterrupted progression of important matters such as minister level meetings or military general level meetings.

Naturally it would be great to agree upon more specific substances but hastily pursuing agreements may lead to unfavorable results not only for South and North Korea but also internationally. Although South Korea hopes to agree on and settle the nuclear issue on its own, it is better not to carelessly place it on the agenda as long as North Korea rejects it. It would be encouraging if certain prerequisites for solution to the nuclear issues are agreed upon in the process of practical meetings.

In the meantime economic exchange is the most important realm for South Korea. How well South Korea does this will not only allow the South to give a favorable impression to the North but it will also make it easier to illuminate the significance of the conferences to its own citizens.
Though agreements on balanced development of the national economy was accomplished at an abstract level at the previous summit meeting, by attaining various agreements and economic support through a private enterprise called Hyundai, we were faced with many problems afterwards. This time we will put such methods aside. While making transparent agreements at the conference center, it would be best to divide it up so that the conference itself can handle more specific matters. It is also worth considering concretizing the agreements immediately by dividing it up into branches according to the agenda, such as agreeing on 3 kinds of economic cooperation business, in particular, even among economic exchanges.

It is necessary to approach problems such as separated family problems, humane exchange problems and North Korean human rights problems with a caring attitude of the North’s position. So to speak, while avoiding directly taking up issues such as army captive problems or human rights problems, it would be best to progress utilitarian pursuit meetings through reciprocity of aid, making the conferences a place for discussing North Korean repatriation of South Korean long-term prisoners.

It is essential to deal with other historical problems or variety of debates at this summit meeting. This is because, due to North Korea’s national structure, carrying out comprehensive agreements in a place for negation that the chairman of national defense personally sealed is the most effective and most powerful.

While restoring awareness of such problems, for the effectiveness of discussion, it is reasonable to set aside individual sections to deal with such problems as a subsidiary of the summit meeting. This is because if the first summit meeting was aimed for regularization of conferences, this time it is appropriate to pursue an organizational framework of the summit meeting itself through permanent establishment of conferences.

For the effectiveness of discussion, it is reasonable to set aside individual sections to deal with such issues under the summit meeting while restoring awareness of such problems. For, if the first summit meeting was aimed for the regularization of conferences, it would be appropriate to pursue an organizational framework of the summit meeting itself through permanent establishment of conferences this time.

Post Cold War Approach to Settlement and Negotiation of Agenda

South-North Korean relations is still unripe.

Partition structure remains as a solid force and the National Security Law still exists. Systems and customs that reproduce cold war tensions are not vanishing due to the interests of political powers and are reviving into politics of confrontation. Viewing from the immature current of the times in which emphasis of globalization accompanies dilution of awareness of unification, it even seems that such partition structure may exist forever.

However, change comes without notice.

A one page agreement was reached after difficult travail of the first summit meeting. It is such reasons that the homogeneity of 40,000,000 people and 70,000,000 nations still remains. South and North Korea even overcame critical moments such as the western sea battle through cooperation. Accordingly, an uneasy circus of peace continues even today.

Post Cold War approach must be secured even in South-North Korean relations. In other words, it means that we must end the period of approaching South-North relations as a one-side vs. the other-side zero-sum game. Hence, we must deviate from the narrow-minded view that it would be beneficial to one side only, and make it a consensus that the strategic approach of exchanging what is necessary even among concrete benefits and abstract benefits, and immediate benefits and prospective benefits is necessary in South-North Korean relations.

We will be able to fabricate results by all means if we approach South-North Korean relations with critical minds not only when setting up the agenda to South-North dialogue but even when discussing that agenda.

Methodology is as important as the contents today. We therefore must focus on methods of solidarity-coalition for productive consultation.

::: KNSI : Korea National Strategy Institute :::
Copyright 2005 © Korea National Strategy Institute. All Right Reserved.