North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

ROK to Host 2nd Nuclear Security Summit in 2012, While it Asks US to Defer NK Contact

President Barack Obama announced that the ROK will host the second Nuclear Security Summit in 2012 saying it “reflects South Korea’s leadership regionally, and globally.”

Lee Myung-bak seems to have had two good days in Washington, basking in the spotlight of an elder statesman.  But his return to Seoul will be marked by (as KCNA would say) knotty problems for LMB to solve on the spot.  In Washington, LMB gave the Washington Post‘s Fred Hiatt an extensive interview.  He alludes to the rumored execution of Pak Nam Gi and talks about seeing changes in the DPRK’s leadership.  I wonder what Rodong Sinmun will have to say to this:

How are you detecting this change?

I mentioned their efforts to have currency reform, which failed, and as a result, the ordinary lives of the North Korean people have just gotten worse than before, and it’s worsening day by day. We have received a lot of reports from North Korea that for the first time the North Korean leadership is now intent on actually explaining their reason for the failure to the North Korean population — something that we haven’t seen before is them admitting that they made mistakes. . . . This in itself is a very significant change compared to the past; it has been said that the North Korean leadership has executed the person in charge who undertook the currency reform, although we don’t have 100 percent verifiable proof . . . . And so the difference in the North Korean leadership’s behavior is that now they are actually addressing the population’s discontent — something that we haven’t seen in the past.

And where could that lead?

We know the challenges that the North Korean leadership is going through at the moment and I believe this can be an opportunity for us to really explore substantive dialogue with the North Koreans whereby we can convince them to fully give up their nuclear weapons capabilities; we can really sit down and talk about specific ways whereby South Korea and the international community can help the North Koreans in terms of reviving their economy and improving their quality of life. It has never been my intention to topple the North Korean regime, but it has been my intention to help the North Korean regime achieve a level of sustainability that can provide the necessary goods to its people. And so this is my policy; this is something I will continue to do.

According to a report in Dong-a Ilbo, the ROK has requested the US defer granting a visa to DPRK MOFA Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan or any other informal contact, pending the outcome of the Cheonan investigation.  The ROK’s request comes while speculation boils over about DPRK involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan, including anonymous speculation of a particular NDC bureau.

This is expected to derail the planned visit to the U.S. by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan.

A South Korean official yesterday said, “We’ve asked U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell to postpone North Korea-U.S. talks for a while. If relations between North Korea and the U.S. improve at a time when inter-Korean relations worsen due to unexpected events such as the sinking of the Cheonan, Seoul could feel isolated. We have informed the U.S. government of such worries.”

“The U.S. has accepted our request and deferred its issuance of an entry visa for a key North Korean figure who had planned to visit the U.S.

Meanwhile, the DPRK has started evicting employees and closing off entrances at Mount Kumgang.

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This article was written on 13 Apr 2010, and is filled under DPRK External Relations, DPRK-US Relations, Inter-Korean Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Six Party Talks.

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