The Future of North Korea (Politics in Asia Series)

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The Future of North Korea (Politics in Asia Series)

The Future of North Korea This book examines the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and discusses its future pro

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The Future of North Korea

This book examines the current situation on the Korean Peninsula and discusses its future prospects. Noted experts from Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom analyze the possible future scenarios for North Korea. These include the possibility of neutrality, and the national interest and perspectives of the great powers – the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the European Union – regarding the future direction of North Korea and North–South Korea relations. The authors agree that all the regional powers, including North and South Korea, have an interest in avoiding violent conflict on the peninsula. Most contributors agree that among all the possible futures the most desirable – the least costly in human and material terms – will be a scenario in which North Korea evolves slowly into a more open and more internationally engaged society. This book also argues, however, that such a scenario is far from assured and that peaceful coexistence will invite self-interested engagement by the peripheral powers and international humanitarian and economic assistance to the North. This book will be invaluable to students of Asian politics and international relations. Tsuneo Akaha is a Professor of International Policy Studies and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies California. He is on the editorial board of the International Journal of the AsiaPacific, and his publications include Politics and Economics in the Russian FarEast, Politics and Economics in Northeast Asia, and Japan in the Posthegemonic World.

Politics in Asia series Edited by Michael Leifer London School of Economics

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Japan’s Asia Policy Wolf Mendl The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific, 1945–1995 Michael Yahuda Political Change in Southeast Asia Trimming the banyan tree Michael R.J. Vatikiotis Hong Kong China’s challenge Michael Yahuda Korea versus Korea A case of contested legitimacy B.K. Gills Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism National identity and status in international society Christopher Hughes Managing Political Change in Singapore The elected presidency Kevin Y.L. Tan and Lam Peng Er Islam in Malaysian Foreign Policy Shanti Nair Political Change in Thailand Democracy and participation Kevin Hewison The Politics of NGOs in South-East Asia Participation and protest in the Philippines Gerard Clarke Malaysian Politics Under Mahathir R.S. Milne and Diane K. Mauzy Indonesia and China The politics of a troubled relationship Rizal Sukma

Arming the Two Koreas State, capital and military power Taik-young Hamm Engaging China The management of an emerging power Edited by Alastair Iain Johnston and Robert S. Ross Singapore’s Foreign Policy Coping with vulnerability Michael Leifer Philippine Politics and Society in the Twentieth Century Colonial legacies, post-colonial trajectories Eva-Lotta E. Hedman and John T. Sidel Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia ASEAN and the problem of regional order Amitav Acharya Monarchy in South-East Asia The faces of tradition in transition Roger Kershaw Korea After the Crash The politics of economic recovery Brian Bridges The Future of North Korea Edited by Tsuneo Akaha The International Relations of Japan and South East Asia Forging a new regionalism Sueo Sudo Power and Change in Central Asia Edited by Sally N Cummings Political Business in East Asia Edited by Edmund Terence Gomez

The Future of North Korea

Edited by Tsuneo Akaha

London and New York

First published 2002 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003. © 2002 editorial matter and selection, Tsuneo Akaha; individual chapters, the respective contributors All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data The Future of North Korea/[edited by] Tsuneo Akaha. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-415-24965-1 1. Korea (North) – Politics and government. 2. Korea (South) – Politics and government–1988. 3. Korean reunification question (1945–). 4. World politics – 1945–. I. Akaha, Tsuneo, 1949– DS935.5. F87 2002 951.9304′3–dc21


ISBN 0-203-16436-9 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-25849-5 (Adobe eReader Format)


List of contributors Preface Acknowledgements Introduction: uncertainty, complexity, and fluidity on the Korean Peninsula

ix xii xiv




Options and realities on the Korean Peninsula 1 Korea: the options and perimeters

7 9


2 The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit: assessments and prospects




Possible futures and national perspectives 3 A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Historical background, rationale, and prospects




4 US policy interests and the concept of North Korean neutrality JAMES CLAY MOLTZ




5 Japan’s policy toward North Korea: interests and options



6 The US–Japan security treaty and neutrality for North Korea



7 China and the future of the Korean Peninsula



8 A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula



9 Russia and North Korea: ten years later



10 The European Union and North Korea



Conclusion: the future of Korea






Tsuneo Akaha received his MA and PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California. He is currently a Professor of International Policy Studies and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. He is the author of Japan in Global Ocean Politics (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press and the Law of the Sea Institute, 1985), co-editor of Japan in the Posthegemonic World (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1993), and editor of Politics and Economics in the Russian Far East: Changing Ties with Asia-Pacific (London: Routledge, 1997) and Politics and Economics in Northeast Asia: Nationalism and Regionalism in Contention (New York: St Martin’s, 1999). Among his recent works is “Japan’s Response to Changing US–Korea Relations,” in Tong Whan Park (ed.) The US and the Two Koreas: A New Triangle (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1998). James E. Auer is the Director of the Center for US–Japan Studies and Cooperation at the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies and Research Professor of the Management of Technology at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering. From April 1979 to September 1988, he served as Special Assistant for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He served in the US Navy from 1963 to 1983 in a number of positions, largely in Japan. He holds an AB degree from Marquette University and a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. His thesis, The Postwar Rearmament of Japanese Maritime Forces 1945–1971, was published in English by Praeger Publishers and in Japanese translation by the Jiji Press under the title Yomigaeru Nippon Kaigun. Reinhard Drifte received his PhD from Ruhr Universitaet, Germany. He is Chair of Japanese Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, where he served as Director of the Newcastle East Asia Centre from 1989 to 1996. He was a visiting research fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, during 1987– 1988 and assistant director for regional security studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London. He is the author of six books, including Japan’s Quest for a Permanent Security Council Seat: A Matter of Pride or Justice? (London/Oxford: Macmillan/St Antony’s Series; London: St Martin’s,


Contributors 1999) and Japan’s Foreign Policy in the 1990s. From Economic Superpower to What Power? (London/Oxford: Macmillan/St Antony’s Series, 1996; St Martin’s Press; revised paperback 1998), both of which have also appeared in Japanese translations. He has also published over 100 articles and book chapters.

Samuel S. Kim is an adjunct professor of political science and a senior research associate at the East Asian Institute, Columbia University. He is the author or editor of seventeen books on East Asian international relations and world-order studies, including most recently Korea’s Globalization (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), East Asia and Globalization (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000), and The North Korean System in the Post-Cold War Era (New York: Palgrave, 2001). Alexandre Mansourov received his PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, New York, in 1997. He was a research associate at Harvard University’s Korea Institute during 1998–1999 and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in 2000. He is currently a research associate at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. He co-edited, with James Clay Moltz, The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategy, and New Perspectives from Russia (New York: Routledge, 2000). He has also written numerous academic articles on Korean history, politics, and international relations on and around the Korean Peninsula. James Clay Moltz received his BA in International Relations and his MA in Russian and East European Studies from Stanford University and his MA and PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a Research Professor and Assistant Director of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies. He also edits The DPRK Report, a bimonthly, web-based analysis of North Korean developments. He is the author of “Russia, North Korea, and US Policy toward the Nuclear Crisis” and “The Renewal of Russian–North Korean Relations” in The North Korean Nuclear Program: Security, Strategy, and New Perspectives from Russia (New York: Routledge, 2000), which he co-edited with Alexandre Mansourov. Chung-in Moon is Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies and Professor of Political Science at Yonsei University, Seoul. He has published eighteen books and over 150 articles in edited volumes and such scholarly journals as World Politics, International Studies Quarterly, and Journal of Asian Studies. His most recent publications include Korean Politics: An Introduction (New York: State University of New York Press). He is Vice-President-elect of the International Studies Association.

Contributors xi Robert A. Scalapino is Robson Research Professor of Government Emeritus at the Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley. He was Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies between 1978 and 1990. His publications include thirty-eight books and monographs, and some 540 articles on East Asian politics and international relations. Among his awards are the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Government of Japan and the Japan Foundation Award as well as the Order of Diplomatic Service Merit from the Government of Korea and the Friendship Medal from the Government of Mongolia. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, and a member of the Boards of the Asia Foundation, the Atlantic Council, the National Bureau of Asian Research, and other bodies. Nikolai Sokov is a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies. A graduate of Moscow State University, he worked at the Institute of USA and Canadian Studies and the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow. He also worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union and Russia, dealing with nuclear arms control. He has a PhD from the University of Michigan and the Soviet equivalent of a PhD (Candidate of Historical Sciences degree) from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. He has published extensively on international security and arms control. Georgi Toloraya is Deputy Director-general of the First Asian Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. A graduate of Moscow University of International Relations, he holds a PhD in economics from the Institute of the World Socialist System and a Doctor of Economy degree from the Russian Academy of Sciences. He served in the Russian embassy in Pyongyang during 1978–1980 and 1984–1987 and in the Russian embassy in Seoul during 1993–1998. Since 1998, he has been responsible for Korean affairs and cooperation in Northeast Asia at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also serves as a leading research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations and teaches at the Moscow University of International Relations. He is the author of five books and numerous articles on Korean and Asian affairs.


The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union reminded those of us who make it our profession to study foreign policy and international relations of the limitations of our theories and constraints on our horizons. Simply put, we failed to predict the timing and manner of these important and profound changes. We then grappled with the task of understanding the meaning and the consequences of the transformations that were sweeping the world. Some of us proclaimed the end of the global bipolarity and anticipated the emergence of a multipolar world order. Others of us took note of the marked differences between regions in the speed and manner in which Cold War structures and institutions were unraveling. Those of us who are familiar with the East Asian scene were awe-stricken by the quick pace of post-Cold War transformations in Europe and, in contrast, by the frustratingly slow processes of change in East Asia. In particular, the end of the Cold War was not in sight in Northeast Asia, where two states remained divided and there was fear of multiple arms races emerging, fueled by interstate animosities of old. The Korean Peninsula remained in many respects a “powder keg” that could explode at any time and turn the regional cold war into a hot war, repeating the tragedies of the early 1950s. We were alarmed by the nuclear crisis in North Korea in 1993, and experienced unnerving moments in the wake of the death of Kim Ilsung in 1994 and the uncertain transition of power in the reclusive country. We also heard reports of untold numbers of North Koreans starving amidst extreme food shortages, with the international community divided on how to respond to the humanitarian disaster unfolding. Alarmed by these developments and compelled by the need to understand what was taking place in North Korea and its possible consequences for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the Center for East Asian Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, decided to host a seminar in the fall of 1997. The purpose of the meeting would be to examine the mainstream perspectives in Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and the United States on the developments in North Korea and to explore the prospects for peaceful transition in North Korea. We were delighted when we learned that a North Korean delegation would also attend. Therefore, we were disappointed when later we were informed that the North Koreans would prefer to come to Monterey in February 1998. However, believing

Preface xiii that the request to postpone the meeting meant there was a reasonable chance that the North Korean participants would indeed come, we rescheduled the meeting for February. Alas! Two weeks prior to the scheduled date of the seminar, we learned that the North Koreans were not coming and we were given no reason for their decision not to attend. Disappointed but not dissuaded about the importance of the meeting, we decided to proceed as scheduled. The seminar, “Rethinking Scenarios for Conflict Resolution on the Korean Peninsula,” was held on the campus of the Monterey Institute on February 20–21, 1998. Among the participants were several of the contributors to this volume – namely, James Auer, Alexander Mansourov, Clay Moltz, Chung-in Moon, Robert Scalapino, and Nikolai Sokov. Other presenters included Lincoln Bloomfield (Armitage Associates), Robert Gallucci (George Washington University), Peter Hayes (Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development), Igor Kravchenko (Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Federation), Chae-jin Lee (Claremont McKenna College), Mitchell Reis (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization), and Takashi Shirasu (Sasakawa Peace Foundation). (The affiliations are those at the time of the seminar.) Following the seminar, it was decided that we should invite other experts on Korean affairs to contribute their knowledge to a collection of papers to be distributed to a wider audience. The contributors to this volume other than those who participated in the Monterey seminar were thus contacted and asked to submit their papers for inclusion in this book. In order to reflect in the final volume the many important events and developments since 1998, all authors were asked, and kindly agreed, to update their papers. Tsuneo Akaha edited all the papers and is responsible for any errors in the editing work.


As noted in the Preface, this book has its origin in the February 1998 seminar at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. I want to thank my colleague at the Monterey Institute, Professor James Clay Moltz, who served as co-organizer of the seminar. My thanks also go to all the other participants, whose names appear in the Preface as well. Throughout this project, from the preparation for the Monterey seminar to the completion of the editorial work, I received kind assistance from many individuals. I owe many thanks to Dr Robert Scalapino, who, despite his very busy schedule, always gave me timely and insightful advice and counsel on the project. Needless to say, a project such as this is impossible to undertake without the necessary funding. I want to thank Dr Takashi Shirasu of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation for securing the necessary support from the Foundation. I also wish to thank the able graduate assistants of the Center for East Asian Studies for their tireless assistance before, during, and after the Monterey seminar. I want to express my thanks by listing their names here: Mari Felton, Kenzo Kimura, Katsuko Kuroiwa, Karen Mattison, Kevin Orfall, and Joe Salazar. Most importantly, I want to express my gratitude to the contributors to this book for sharing their expertise on the subject matter and for their willingness to revise their original papers in a timely fashion. I learned much from their analyses as well as from the numerous conversations I held with them throughout this project. I alone am responsible for any errors I may have committed during the editing work.

Introduction Uncertainty, complexity, and fluidity on the Korean Peninsula Tsuneo Akaha

It has become almost a cliché to state that it is very difficult to predict, or even forecast, the future of North Korea, North–South Korean relations, the two Koreas’ relations with the major powers, or those powers’ interactions over the peninsula. But that is the truth. Following the North–South summit in June 2000, the Korean Peninsula has become more of a moving target as a result of the North–South Korean opening at the highest level. Each of the peripheral powers is reassessing in yet under-specified directions its policy options and priorities vis-à-vis the complex, uncertain, and now fluid Korean situation. Moreover, the dramatic changes in the global and regional environment surrounding the peninsula and the great powers in the post-Cold War era are forcing all the powers to review their foreign policy interests and reprioritize their resource commitment accordingly. “Uncertainty,” “complexity,” and “fluidity” aptly describe the situation on the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding region of Northeast Asia today, and this makes our effort to forecast, much less predict, the future of Korea extremely difficult and hazardous at best. There is much uncertainty about the Korean Peninsula and its surrounding region for several reasons. First, the hermetically veiled leadership and the party and state apparatus in North Korea make our speculation about Pyongyang’s intentions behind its words just that: speculation. Second, our task is compounded by a lack of transparency in North–South contacts – except for well-orchestrated pronouncements for their dramatic effect in public relations campaigns. Third, the absence of consensus in South Korea about the most effective way to approach North Korea and the reunification issue and the intense jockeying for power among the rival political parties in the South often complicate the Seoul government’s foreign policy and further cloud our analytical lenses. Fourth, our task is complicated by the ambiguities and shifts that we witness in the regional powers’ policies regarding Korea and Northeast Asia. For example, what exactly is South Korea’s “Sunshine Policy”? Is it engagement at any cost? What quid pro quo does it demand from the North? What is the “engagement policy” of the USA? How comprehensive or selective is it? What is the relationship between the plan to develop a National Missile Defense (NMD) system put forward by the USA and its cooperation with Japan in the research and development of the Theater Missile Defense (TMD), which will have far-reaching implications for


Tsuneo Akaha

the security environment of Northeast Asia? Does Japan want or fear Korean reunification? Does China want a united Korea on its border? Does Russia? Finally, the uncertainty of Korean and Northeast Asian affairs is accentuated by the fact that there is no actor – not even the sole superpower today – that can command sufficient resources to determine the future of the Korean Peninsula. The complexity of peninsular and regional affairs stems from the fact that the interests of all major powers – the United States, Japan, China, and Russia – intersect there, and yet the level of interest and the intensity of attention each peripheral power accords to the peninsula and to Northeast Asia varies significantly. For North and South Korea, obviously, developments on the peninsula are of allconsuming importance, as the June 2000 summit dramatically illustrated. Second, the situation on the peninsula and in the broader region is complex because the nature of the regional powers’ stakes varies substantially. In the broadest terms, the stakes can be described as follows. The survival of the regime, the state, and the system (the entire society) is at stake in North Korea. The political survival of individual leaders may be at stake in South Korea, but not the survival of the state or the system as a whole, at least not today or in the foreseeable future. For the United States, the demise of the Pyongyang regime or even the outbreak of a violent conflict on the peninsula would not fully consume its national security apparatus. US interests are linked to the prevention of nuclear and missile proliferation, protection of its friends and allies in Northeast Asia – South Korea and Japan – and preservation of a balance of power in the region that favors continued US dominance in East Asia and globally. For Japan, the issue is linked to the government’s ability to prevent destabilizing effects of peninsular developments on the nation and its relations with South Korea, with which it shares growing political and commercial interests, and to contribute to the stability of the peninsula and the broader region. China has a vital interest in maintaining stability on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia so that it may continue to focus its attention on domestic economic priorities. This means preventing violent conflict on the peninsula, facilitating the emergence of a friendly regime in the North (or, if that is not possible, preventing the emergence of an unfriendly or hostile regime), and weakening the now-dominant US influence in the broader region. Russia shares a similar set of interests with China, although the geographical distance from the Korean Peninsula reduces Moscow’s sense of urgency about – and its ability to affect – the developments there. However, an implosion or explosion in North Korea, or even a collapse of the Pyongyang regime or the North Korean economy and society, would have an almost immediate impact on its Far Eastern territories bordering North Korea and would prompt Moscow to respond swiftly to contain their destabilizing effects. For European countries, the Korean Peninsula is a distant land and North–South Korean relations are of marginal interest. However, as Drifte shows in his chapter, they are devoting increasing attention and resources to peninsular affairs because they realize the implications of farflung developments for their relations with the United States and Japan, both of which insist that Europe contributes to the stability of the peninsula. Third, peninsular affairs and international relations in Northeast Asia are made



complex by the fact that past history weighs heavily on the contemporary situation and will continue to affect the way each regional power defines its interests and perceives its desirable relationship with the others. Put simply, the division of the Korean Peninsula is a result of the pre-Second World War aggression of Japan, the ideological conflict of the global Cold War, and the imperatives of state survival in the North and the South during and after the Cold War. North and South Koreas’ peculiar relations with each peripheral power are also guided by their memory of the peninsula’s tortuous history as a pawn in the strategic rivalry and violent conflict among the great powers in this part of the world. Conversely, the ability of the present-day great powers to influence developments on the peninsula is compromised by their history of intervention and interference in Korean affairs before and during the twentieth century. Fourth, the dynamic in the foreign policy and domestic politics in each country is different, and its response to developments on the Korean Peninsula, therefore, has different complications for the need to balance foreign policy concerns and domestic political interests from one country to another. This is amply demonstrated by the analyses in Part II of this volume. Finally, the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia has become substantially more fluid in recent years. Although the North–South division on the peninsula continues and is not likely to disappear any time in the near future, there is growing interaction between the two societies. In addition to the official interactions between the two governments, including those at the highest level, there are now private-level channels of business interests and state-promoted technical and humanitarian contacts. North Korea is also open to limited but potentially influential contacts with Western businesses and humanitarian organizations. The fluidity has dramatically increased as a result of the historic summit between Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung in June 2000, with its impact reverberating in all the capitals around the major powers, in Asia, in the United States, and in Europe, further accentuating the uncertainty and the complexity noted above. A useful analytical approach to the uncertainties and complexities that defy prediction about foreign policies and international relations is to start with the assessment of the present situation, develop various future scenarios within the realm of possibility, and then speculate about the range of options available for each significant actor. The collection of essays in this volume represents such effort. Part I considers the current state of North–South Korean relations and the challenges that are facing the leaders in both Seoul and Pyongyang. It also introduces possible futures for the Korean Peninsula and the perspectives and interests of the major powers, whose policies toward the peninsula and toward each other affect and are affected by developments on the peninsula. In Chapter 1, Robert Scalapino gives a brief overview of the current state of North–South Korean relations, as well as the interests of the peripheral powers – the United States, China, Japan, and Russia – which are guiding the policies of those powers toward the Korean Peninsula. He then posits five possible future scenarios for North Korea. After discussing the challenges facing South Korea


Tsuneo Akaha

today, Scalapino ventures options for a reunited Korea. He reminds the reader that the reunification of Korea is not the “end-game,” but the beginning of new challenges for both the Korean people and others who have a stake in the peace and prosperity of this historically conflict-prone peninsula. In Chapter 2, Chungin Moon assesses South Korean President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy” in terms of the premises and principles upon which it is formulated, as well as the gap between its ideals and its implementation. Moon then evaluates the historic summit between Kim and the North Korean leader, Chairman Kim Jong-il, in June 2000, for which the Sunshine Policy has been credited by many and criticized by others. Moon then discusses the prospects for Korean reunification. The Korean Peninsula does not exist in a geographic vacuum. In a crude sense, history is repeating itself, i.e. the history of great-power rivalry over the peninsula. As Mansourov’s analysis in this volume illustrates, the history of the peninsula amply demonstrates the critical importance of major regional powers in shaping the political landscape of the peninsula and even defining the range of options available to Korean leaders. The contemporary period is no exception. It is imperative, therefore, that we examine the interests and perspectives of the peripheral powers – namely the United States, Japan, China, and Russia – regarding the future of the Korean Peninsula. Part II takes up this task. In Chapter 3, Alexandre Mansourov explores North Korean neutrality as a possible path toward a peaceful Korean Peninsula. He discusses the historical background, rationale, and prospects for the idea of neutrality on the peninsula.1 The following chapters examine the scenario of North Korean neutrality and other future possibilities from the perspectives of the United States, Japan, China, and Russia. In Chapter 4, James Clay Moltz looks at the likely response of the United States to a North Korean declaration of neutrality from the perspective of current US–South Korean relations, US domestic politics, and broader US foreign policy interests and concerns. In Chapter 5, I examine Japan’s policy toward North Korea and discuss a broader range of future possibilities, including the neutrality scenario and the five scenarios posited by Scalapino. I identify three sources of influence in Tokyo’s conservative and reactive policy toward Pyongyang today and speculate about Japan’s likely response to a neutrality declaration by North Korea. In Chapter 6, James Auer stresses the importance of the US–Japan security alliance for the security of Japan and for the peace and stability of the region. From that vantage point, he offers a favorable prognosis of the desirability of North Korean neutrality. Turning to China, Samuel Kim’s analysis in Chapter 7 places China’s policy toward the Korean Peninsula in the context of the visible shift in Beijing’s foreign policy away from ideological orientation toward balance-of-power realism, explaining Beijing’s “two-Korea policy” as a manifestation of its desire for a stable Korean Peninsula. Kim examines three possible scenarios for the future of North Korea – system maintenance, system reform, and system collapse. He then analyzes China’s evolving perspectives and policies toward the peninsula with a focus on Beijing’s adoption of a “two-Korea policy.” This is followed by an analysis of China’s ability to cope with the challenge of Korean unification and its likely



position on the neutrality scenario. He concludes with a description of China’s current policy toward the peninsula as being a “status quo,” with China preferring peaceful coexistence between the two Koreas. Russia’s approach to Korea is examined by Sokov in Chapter 8 and by Toloraya in Chapter 9. Sokov first explains Russia’s lack of a long-term policy toward the Korean Peninsula and Moscow’s visibly diminished influence in Korean affairs during the Yeltsin government. He then describes Moscow’s diplomatic effort to restore Russia’s influence in Korean affairs based on Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov’s multipolar conceptualization of Northeast Asia. He concludes that Russia’s frustrating experiences with the reunification of Germany and the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) indicate Moscow’s likely support for a neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a of means of preventing great-power intervention and the resulting conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Toloraya’s analysis is focused on the post-Yeltsin period of Russian diplomacy in Korean affairs. He decries the erratic and self-defeating Russian policy toward the Korean Peninsula in the 1990s and describes in some detail the steps leading up to President Vladimir Putin’s summit with Chairman Kim Jong-il in February 2000. He attributes the favorable turn of events to North Korea’s diplomatic initiatives, particularly vis-à-vis the United States, as well as to the parallel interest of Moscow and Pyongyang in multilateralizing their leverage against the other regional powers. He concludes with a hopeful but cautious assessment of possible cooperation between Russia and North Korea. Europe was never a major factor in Korean affairs during the Cold War, and its interest remained limited after the Cold War. This has begun to change more recently, with the European Union (EU) making considerable financial contribution to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and extending humanitarian aid to North Korea, as well as individual European countries establishing diplomatic relations with North Korea since 2000. In Chapter 10, Drifte traces the development of the EU’s North Korea policy along three dimensions: participation in KEDO, humanitarian assistance, and bilateral and multilateral openings with Pyongyang. He also explains the institutional, political, and economic interests underlying the EU’s policy. The contributors to this collective work have no illusions about the difficulty of seeing far beyond the current state of North–South Korean relations and fully accounting for the contemporary policies of the other powers toward the Korean Peninsula. If we succeed in aiding the reader’s understanding of the uncertainty surrounding the Korean situation, the complexity of the issues and stakes involved, and the fluidity of the relationships among the powers concerned, our analytical exercise will have served its purpose. We are also guided by our desire to find pathways to peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict – or conflicts. If our intellectual contributions in this volume shed some light on those possibilities, our efforts will have been worthwhile as well.


Tsuneo Akaha

Note 1

“Neutrality” normally refers to a policy of non-participation in ongoing wars and “neutralization” relates to an agreed arrangement to prevent, moderate, or terminate interstate coercion. For the purposes of our discussion, however, neutrality is used synonymously with neutralization, as a concept representing a legal, diplomatic, and political phenomenon. (See Cyril E. Black, Richard A. Falk, Klaus Knorr, and Oran R. Young, Neutralization and World Politics, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.) A neutralized state is conventionally defined as “a state whose political independence and territorial integrity are guaranteed permanently by a collective agreement of great powers, subject to the conditions that the neutralized state will not take up arms against another state, except to defend itself, and will not assume treaty obligations which may compromise its neutralized status” (ibid.: xi). International recognition of a neutral (or neutralized) state normally requires both other states’ commitment not to attack militarily and not to interfere with the internal affairs of the neutral state. A set of obligations are also required on the part of the neutralized state, such as the obligation “not to use military force except in selfdefense, not to permit other states to use its territory for military purposes or to interfere with its domestic affairs, not to enter alliances or other international agreements compromising its neutralized status, and not to intervene in the domestic affairs of other states” (ibid.: xii). Neutrality becomes more feasible with the participation of great powers that can assist in guaranteeing the neutral status. For this reason, the DPRK’s neutrality will require international agreement involving guarantees by great powers, including the United States, China, and Russia, as well as the endorsement of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and cooperation of other powers such as Japan. Neutralization serves different functions for the neutralized state, for the guarantor states, for the great powers, and for all states involved. The neutralized state seeks its military security, political independence, and territorial integrity through neutralization. The guarantor states that have a strong and competitive interest in the status of the neutralized state will seek restraint on, or elimination of, military actions which are both costly and dangerous. For the great powers, neutralization may help to prevent the emergence of an international balance of power that will be disadvantageous to them. The most important function of neutralization for all states involved is stabilization of an unstable international situation or prevention of disturbing consequences of the use of coercion (ibid.: xv). Whether the DPRK’s neutrality is desirable and feasible will depend largely on whether a neutralized DPRK in the regional and global context can serve this mix of functions from the perspective of the DPRK itself, the potential guarantor states – i.e. the United States (and probably also China and Russia) – and other great powers, including Japan and other permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council, and, of course, the most immediately affected country: the ROK.

Part I

Options and realities on the Korean Peninsula


Korea The options and perimeters Robert A. Scalapino

Ours is an age when dramatic changes in domestic and international conditions can take place with a swiftness impossible to envision in earlier times. Since the inception of the Kim Dae-jung presidency in February 1998, major developments have occurred in relations both between the two Koreas and between these states and the major powers with which they have been involved. On balance, moreover, these developments have been strongly positive. Caution must be exercised. In the decades following the Korean War, there were a number of events that seemed to signal a new era in inter-Korean relations. These events were only to be reversed by subsequent events, among them the 4 July 1972 communiqué pledging a drive toward unification and the December 1991 twenty-five point agreement. For a brief period in 1994, moreover, as a result of former President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Pyongyang, a summit between Kim Il-sung and Kim Young-sam seemed in the offing. This was precluded by the North Korean leader’s death less than one month later.1 Yet in the past two years, new conditions have come into play in both the South and the North that seem to offer much greater opportunities for effective interaction than in the past. In the Republic of Korea (ROK), a new President set forth a far-reaching policy of rapprochement from the outset of his administration. In his inaugural address, Kim Dae-jung outlined three principles in defining what has been labeled his Sunshine Policy: no toleration of military threats or actions by the North; rejection of a policy of unification through absorption; and the promotion of exchanges and cooperation by returning to the Basic Agreement of 1991.2 In subsequent pronouncements, President Kim reiterated his commitment to cooperation with the North, a notable example being his Berlin Declaration of March 2000.3 In his address, Kim advanced four goals: to dismantle the Cold War structure on the Korean Peninsula; to restart the visits of divided families; to resume inter-governmental talks between South and North; and to assist the economic recovery of the North through inter-Korean economic cooperation. The Berlin Declaration was soon given substance by the summit meeting in Pyongyang that took place on 13–15 June between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jongil. Millions of viewers witnessed Chairman Kim come to the Pyongyang airport to greet the South Korean President, smiling and grasping his guest in a fraternal


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fashion. A new image of Kim Jong-il was encouraged: capable of shedding aloofness, intelligent, and well informed concerning international affairs. The ensuing negotiations were intense, although the resulting communiqué concentrated on generalities, but the signs for improved North–South relations were promising. Meanwhile, economic and cultural interaction between the two Koreas had already begun to accelerate. In the economic realm, the massive ROK chaebol, Hyundai, had taken the lead. A program to turn Mount Kumgang into a tourist site had been approved by the North, with Hyundai being given exclusive rights to develop the area until the year 2030 in exchange for paying the North nearly US$1 billion through 2004. Between November 1998 – the opening tour – and October 2000, some 350,000 South Korean tourists had visited the site, and, after permission was granted in 2000, 600 foreign tourists also participated. This project, incidentally, was underwritten in a very traditional manner: Hyundai’s founder, Chung Ju-yung, met with Kim Jong-il in the North on two occasions, establishing a personal relationship and securing approval through the “dear leader.” Subsequently, Hyundai agreed to build a gymnasium in Pyongyang, and instituted plans for an industrial zone at Kaesong. Future Hyundai activities, however, have been cast in some doubt because of the financial problems that the combine faces. A company spokesman recently stated that future investments would have to be funded by foreign investors, and efforts have already been made to secure funds from Japanese sources, which, thus far, have been unsuccessful. Meanwhile, other types of economic interaction have developed, albeit in relatively modest degree. Some 180 small- and medium-sized South Korean companies have reportedly been engaged in “processing on commission” arrangements, utilizing labor from the North and technology and equipment from the South. Several hundred applications for future investment, moreover, have been filed with ROK authorities. In addition, certain large chaebol apart from Hyundai, such as Samsung, have indicated an interest in economic involvement in the North, with the focus on the high-technology field.4 By the end of 1999, investments in the North from ROK companies amounted to some US$426 million.5 Trade between the ROK and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) totaled US$333 million in 1999, and was somewhat higher in 2000. Much of this trade, however, came in the form of tourist fees and economic assistance from the South – food, fertilizer, medical supplies, and other forms of aid. A portion of this aid came from private groups such as the Red Cross and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The obstacles to regular trade and investment have remained formidable. In an effort to remedy these, an agreement was reached at the end of 2000 that provides for investment protection, the avoidance of double taxation, procedures for the clearance of accounts, and means for the settlement of disputes. In the inter-ministerial meeting in Pyongyang on 15 December, it was also agreed that a new committee would be set up – tentatively named the South–North Economic Cooperation Promotion Committee – in order to define the specifics of these matters, advance the construction of the Kaesong industrial

Korea: the options and perimeters 11 park, promote progress with respect to rail and road links across the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and cooperate in flood prevention along the Imjin River.6 If effective, this committee could represent a major step forward in North–South economic relations. One basic factor has underwritten all recent developments on the inter-Korean economic front. From the early 1990s, Northern authorities progressively came to realize that economic change was imperative. Their economy was slipping further and further into crisis because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, hitherto a key benefactor, because of adverse weather conditions, and, most importantly, because of the failure of the Stalinist socialist strategy. The first evidence of a new effort came with the establishment of a free trade zone at Rajin-Sonbong, the North’s northeast region, which opened in the early 1990s. The hope was that this venture would attract foreign investors, but the results proved to be very limited owing to location, infrastructural deficiencies, and an absence of legal protection.7 Other efforts followed, and the revised 1998 Constitution, in addition to reconstructing the government in the aftermath of Kim Il-sung’s death, made some provisions for a private sector, albeit in very general terms and with the emphasis still upon juche (self-reliance) and collectivization.8 By the time that Kim Dae-jung launched the Sunshine Policy, however, the urgency of change was ever more apparent. Decline had been continuous for nearly a decade, and, in economic terms, the DPRK was a failing state. Thus, President Kim’s new policy was well timed to coincide with a positive Northern response. In assessing the North’s attitude, one must be cautious. The DPRK’s leaders’ goal is effective economic change with minimal political alteration. They have observed developments in Russia, and certain events indicating rising instability in China worry them. Thus, caution must be exercised, even in terminology. “Reform” is impermissible since it suggests system alteration; “change” is an acceptable term, but it must be applied carefully. There is always the possibility, therefore, that change will come too slowly to prevent the upheaval that Northern leaders fear. Nonetheless, recent developments suggest that a point of no return may have been reached. Up to mid-1999, over 100 individuals had been sent abroad to undertake training or to garner information in a range of fields, from economics to legal and scientific studies. For example, a small group of individuals studied economics at Australian National University. Another group undertook legal studies at Peking University under American auspices. Small groups specializing in agriculture and energy have also visited the United States, as have doctors, spending time at Johns Hopkins University Hospital. There is evidence, moreover, that the North is interested in advancing in the information technology (IT) field, with an ambitious four-year project to develop software launched in 1999. In addition, an interest in having access to international financial agencies has been repeatedly expressed. Kim Jong-il himself has indicated an interest in the earlier development program of President Park Chung-hee, and – after a lengthy silence on the part of the


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North despite numerous Chinese-conducted tours – in some of the current People’s Republic of China (PRC) programs. While retreats may take place, the momentum is toward accelerating change – with the North’s current limitations being the principal obstacle. After some improvement in 1999, the economy took new hits in 2000, with severely adverse weather reducing crop production and mounting problems with aging facilities inhibiting industrial recovery. In its inter-ministerial negotiations with the South in December 2000, the North reportedly requested a supply of 2 million kilowatts of electricity from the ROK – later reduced to 500,000 kilowatts – to assist in offsetting the severe shortage. It has been estimated that current production might be as low as 2 million kilowatts (in contrast to the ROK’s production of 47 million kilowatts) owing to the fact that some three-quarters of its electric facilities are in need of repair. Negotiations on this and other economic issues were scheduled to take place in the opening months of 2001. Thus, North Korea remains a failing state in economic terms. The DPRK’s output is estimated to have decreased by about 50 percent between 1994 and 1999,9 and, despite some economic gains in 1999, the North slipped again in 2000, with adverse weather being one factor. At the end of the year, the United Nations (UN) resident coordinator in the DPRK stated that some 810,000 tons of food would be required to provide minimal needs for the population until the next harvest. Some estimates indicated that approximately one-quarter of domestic food consumption came via private markets, given the inadequacy of the state system. In 2000, the ROK’s assistance was substantial, with 200,000 tons of fertilizer, 500,000 tons of food, and assorted other forms of assistance advanced.10 As certain clouds appeared over the South Korean economy in the fall of the year, domestic criticism mounted with respect to Kim’s Sunshine Policy. It was argued that reciprocity was lacking in the South–North relationship; the South was providing extensive assistance to the North but the North was making no concessions in the strategic field, thus still representing a threat. It was also asserted that food aid and other forms of assistance might be going primarily to the military and officials, thereby strengthening the regime. Interestingly, in late 2000, DPRK authorities allowed Southern representatives to inspect a food distribution site for the first time. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Kim certainly bolstered his support at home, but certain issues remained contentious. Critical sources now claimed that President Kim was devoting his attention almost wholly to foreign policies, including North–South relations, and neglecting vital domestic concerns. Kim responded by reasserting his determination to push basic economic reforms relating to the financial–banking and industrial sectors, and quickly faced opposition from both labor and segments of industry, which were fearful of rising unemployment and credit shrinkage. In any case, the status of the ROK’s economy in the period ahead will clearly impact upon all facets of economic relations with the DPRK.11 On the cultural front, equally significant advances were made in the aftermath of the summit. Various musical and sports events were held that involved visits to the opposite side or joint performances. Perhaps the most spectacular – and

Korea: the options and perimeters 13 certainly the most widely publicized – was the joint entry of the athletes of the two Koreas under a single flag at the Australian Olympics. At the end of 2000, representatives of labor unions from the two sides met in Panmunjom. Meetings of divided families also took place twice in the latter part of 2000, with l00 individuals from each side selected to make the trip.12 Each side selected this group from a large pool of individuals who had registered or indicated a desire to visit relatives. The meetings took place in prominent hotels in Seoul and Pyongyang, and were carefully supervised. Most of the visitors were elderly, and South Korean authorities asserted that the guests from the North were carefully selected, with flawless political credentials. A pledge was made for a third visit in early 2001, and discussions continue with respect to the establishment of a permanent center for such contacts, whether at Panmunjom or elsewhere. In addition, ground-breaking ceremonies have been held for the reconnection of the Seoul–Shinuiju railway line across the DMZ together with an adjacent highway.13 The UN Command has given the two Koreas permission to have administrative control over the DMZ area through which the line is to pass, and, by the end of 2000, some 60 percent of the land mines had reportedly been cleared from this area. These economic and cultural developments appeared to augur well for a shift from the confrontation of the past. As skeptics pointed out, however, there were no similar developments on the strategic front. As 2001 opened, an armistice rather than a peace treaty served to symbolize the end of the Korean War. Further, massive military forces from the two sides confronted each other in the near vicinity of the DMZ. It has been estimated that some 55 percent of the North’s 1 million military personnel, together with large quantities of tanks, artillery, and sophisticated weaponry, are within 100 kilometers of the border. Similarly, major ROK forces are stationed between Seoul and the DMZ, complemented with a small but highly equipped US force. Conflict, whether purposeful or accidental, could quickly escalate into a huge conflagration. As yet, however, strategic talks between the North and the South have been limited to a meeting of defense ministers on 12 September 2000, on Cheju Island. The meeting was without rancor, but no specific agreements were reached. In reality, until now, the DPRK has preferred to concentrate on economic and cultural relations with the ROK, reserving security issues for negotiations with the United States despite earlier pledges by the North and South to achieve reunification through the two Koreas acting independently.

US interests The role of the United States on the strategic front has had a substantial history. Having a strong interest in getting the DPRK to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and accepting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections, the United States first held bilateral talks with the North in January 1992. While the DPRK signed the treaty and agreed to permit inspections, subsequent developments created recurrent tensions, including a threat by the


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DPRK to withdraw from the NPT. The North used its nuclear card effectively. Finally, after a series of meetings, the Agreed Framework was signed by both parties in October 1994, providing for a freeze on the North’s nuclear program and continuous IAEA inspection of its facilities in exchange for the construction of two light-water reactors that were proliferation resistant. That construction would be directed by the United States, which was charged with the responsibility for furnishing 500,000 tons of heavy oil per annum for energy until the project was completed. South Korea also accepted the commitment of both personnel and funding to the project, with additional economic aid from Japan. In the following year, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was created to implement the agreement.14 Despite recurrent problems, including the reluctance of the American Congress to fund the oil shipments, the project continues, albeit with a lengthened timespan for completion. More recently, however, questions have been raised about the North’s capacity to utilize the power, given its defective grid system. Meanwhile, under the Clinton administration, the United States pursued a dual policy of strengthening the US–ROK security alliance while progressively enlarging its dialogue with the DPRK. An early step was the proposal of FourParty Talks, which began in the spring of 1996. With Chinese concurrence, meetings involving the United States, China, and the two Koreas were suggested. Despite its reluctance, support from the PRC forced the North to accept this plan, and the meetings got under way. Subsequently, however, the meetings have faltered, with few concrete accomplishments. After the inauguration of the KEDO program, various American groups and individuals urged a more flexible policy in dealing with the North, arguing that a policy based solely upon containment was unlikely to promote a reduction of tension on the peninsula. Their position was strongly aided by the advent of Kim Dae-jung to leadership in the South and by the promulgation of his Sunshine Policy. In the preceding Kim Young-sam (YS) era, the ROK and the United States had frequently been at odds with respect to policies toward the North. The YS regime, itself uncertain as to the preferred policy, alternated between criticizing US inaction toward the North and US over-hastiness. More recently, US policies of DPRK engagement have meshed well with Kim Dae-jung’s program, rendering US–ROK relations better at the governmental level than at any time since World War II. Issues such as the ROK-desired modification of the Status of Forces Agreement have existed (now seemingly resolved by granting the ROK more authority). The slaughter of Korean civilians at Nogun-ri during the Korean War has also created bad feelings. At the grass-roots level, some growth in antiAmericanism can be discerned. Yet in general, with economic issues being reduced by ROK reforms, security ties receiving support, and the two governments in continuous consultation on matters relating to the North, the bonds are close. There is some apprehension in ROK governmental circles, however, concerning possible changes of policy regarding the DPRK under the George W. Bush administration. Meanwhile, as in the case of ROK–DPRK relations, major developments in

Korea: the options and perimeters 15 US relations with the DPRK have taken place since 1998. In November of that year, President Clinton appointed former Secretary of Defense William Perry to undertake a comprehensive review of US policy toward North Korea, hoping to develop a policy that would secure bipartisan support. Perry’s report, submitted to Congress in September 1999, outlined two broad courses. If the DPRK were prepared to cooperate on key issues, including security issues, the United States would progressively remove economic sanctions and move toward diplomatic relations. If, on the contrary, cooperation were not forthcoming, the United States together with its allies would tighten restrictions.15 In the aftermath of Perry’s recommendations, a series of bilateral meetings between US and DPRK officials took place in New York, Berlin, and Kuala Lumpur. The key issues were the North’s missile development and sales program and terrorism, with the alleged kidnapped Japanese and the renewed search for the remains of US service personnel killed in the Korean War also on the agenda. One issue related to a suspected secret nuclear underground site at Kumgang-ri. On 19 May 1999, an agreement for inspections in exchange for food aid was reached; in a subsequent inspection, no incriminating evidence was found. The US–DPRK relationship took a noticeable leap forward with the visit of Vice-Marshal Jo Myong-rok, the DPRK’s second most powerful figure, to Washington in early October 2000, holding meetings with President Clinton as well as other top officials. This was followed in less than two weeks by Secretary Madeleine Albright’s visit to Pyongyang, and lengthy discussions with Kim Jongil.16 The key issues were the North’s missile program – specifically, its missile launches and sales. The United States has demanded the cancellation of longrange missile development and an end to the export of middle- and short-range missiles. On 31 August 1998, a Taepodong ballistic missile had gone over Japan, greatly concerning the Japanese and South Koreans. In recent conversations with Americans, the North Koreans have reportedly offered to halt missile development if the United States would arrange satellite launches in a third country on its behalf, and also to suspend missile exports in exchange for a US payment of $l billion annually for three years as compensation for revenue loss. The United States has reportedly rejected cash payments, offering to consider economic incentives in their place, including food aid and financial support through international agencies. As 2000 ended, the negotiations were still ongoing, and a projected trip to Pyongyang by President Clinton was set aside, with the reason given that there was insufficient time to reach a comprehensive agreement. On the terrorist issue, at an earlier point, the North issued a statement that it did not support terrorism either by states or by individuals or groups. However, there has been no disposition to give up the former Japanese Red Army members who are supposedly taking refuge in the North. Whether the Bush administration will continue to pursue an engagement policy toward the DPRK and reach agreement on the key issues or will employ greater “toughness,” demanding greater DPRK concessions, remains unclear. In any case, the United States is destined to be deeply involved in the Korean Peninsula for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, Korea provides an excellent


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illustration of the basic strategy characterizing US policies in the Asia-Pacific region. Those policies rest upon two foundations: a concert of powers and a balance of power. At a time when official multilateral organizations are useful and important, but insufficient as peace-making and peace-keeping bodies, the United States seeks to create coalitions based upon states having a common interest in a given issue or problem. These coalitions are not always composed of the same nations, nor are they of the same size; some are triangular, some quadrilateral, some larger. Further, they range from the formal, operating through existing multilateral organizations, to the informal, operating independently. Their central purpose, however, remains that of resolving or containing specific problems. At the same time, the United States will remain dedicated to maintaining a balance of power in the region. Pacific-Asia today is very different from Europe. In the latter region, integration is steadily advancing through such organizations as the European Union and the projected European defense force. While the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is still the cornerstone of Western strategic cooperation, and will no doubt continue to be, the need for US leadership – and in many instances, involvement – has lessened. Asia has no similar institutions or unity. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) are useful, but they are essentially “talk” organizations and a certain fragility now exists in them, especially ASEAN. Further, although the deep ideological divisions that once marked the region have largely disappeared, radically different perceptions of national interest, hence views on strategic policy, exist, precluding the type of unity now emerging in Europe. Even in the economic sphere, much needs to happen before a truly free trade zone emerges. Hence, the United States, as the sole global power – and one with immense economic, political, and strategic interests – in Asia-Pacific, must continue to play a crucial role in the region, albeit eschewing unilateralism except under extraordinary conditions. The nature of the US defense commitment in Asia will undoubtedly be altered over time, given the ongoing revolution in military affairs (RMA). At some point, as noted, it may well be unnecessary to maintain ground forces on foreign bases, with technical personnel sufficing and allies providing bases in readiness for rapid deployment. The timing of changes, however, must be such as to avoid sending the wrong signals to both allies and others.

China Apart from the United States, China is the nation most intimately involved with the Korean issue. Indeed, in historical terms, China’s involvement extends over thousands of years, with suzerainty exercised from time to time and deep cultural influence. At the close of the nineteenth century, China lost its position regarding Korea to Japan, but the Korean War, at great sacrifice, re-established China’s status in the North. At present, moreover, China is the nation that comes closest to having a genuine two-Koreas policy.17 Even in this case, however, there are problems. While China saved the DPRK from oblivion during the Korean War

Korea: the options and perimeters 17 and has been essential in recent years with respect to such vital commodities as food and energy, Sino-North Korean relations were frayed after 1990 for some time. Terms such as “lips and teeth friendship” were invoked publicly, but, privately, Beijing authorities were critical of the North’s failure to take appropriate economic actions and were disparaging of its political system. Negative sentiments, moreover, were reciprocated by the DPRK. China’s loyalties were suspect, with some of its actions as well as its periodic admonitions resented. In the recent past, both sides have sought to improve relations. High-level visits have taken place, for example the trip of Chairman Kim Jong-il to Beijing just prior to the June 2000 summit, giving a clear indication of the importance that Pyongyang now attaches to its relations with Beijing. Yet elements of delicacy continue to exist. The revised security agreement no longer guarantees PRC military support in the event of a conflict, and while Chinese authorities applaud the recent economic changes undertaken by the North they continue to have doubts about the viability of the current system and claim to have limited knowledge of the inner workings of the DPRK government. Meanwhile, relations between the PRC and the ROK have expanded rapidly in the past five years. Indeed, ties between South Korea and Shandong province represent a natural economic territory (NET) of great significance, now spreading to adjacent regions of China. On the political front, moreover, the rule is live and let live, with controversy generally avoided. Kim Dae-jung’s trip to Beijing was viewed as highly successful. China has been strongly supportive of the Sunshine Policy, and has urged the North to respond favorably to overtures from both the ROK and the United States with respect to strategic issues. Its participation in the Four-Party Talks and making Beijing available for North–South bilateral dialogues are additional evidence of the general thrust of its policies. China’s position on the basic issues is relatively clear. The PRC does not want a collapsed DPRK, a nuclear DPRK, or another conflict. Hence, it favors the status quo continuing, meanwhile encouraging the North to pursue an evolutionary process that would preserve “socialism” while undertaking those major changes that would enable it to become a part of the modern world. A collapse and early unification under Seoul might create a strengthened sense of nationalism among the Chinese-Koreans, some 700,000 of whom live in the Yanbian Autonomous Region, just across the Yalu River. A disintegrating North, moreover, would raise a host of problems for China, especially if some faction sought military assistance. A nuclear North Korea, in addition to creating huge problems vis-à-vis the United States and Japan, would open the door to further proliferation in the region. Another Korean war, of course, would be disastrous, with China’s course of action unpredictable. Thus, because it has a number of common interests with other major states as well as with the ROK, China has participated actively in a variety of ways in the effort to promote DPRK–ROK relations and the North’s interaction with the United States and Japan. Meanwhile, concerning the American military presence in the South, it has said little in recent times, realizing that to leave the two Koreas facing each other alone would not be conducive to a reduction of tension at this


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time. Yet this issue would take on new dimensions if and when unification takes place.

Japan Japan is another nation with a deep interest in developments on the Korean Peninsula, hence a willingness to expend funds and undertake a continuous dialogue with both North and South in an effort to improve its image in the two Koreas. Yet it has had to face continuously the legacy of history. One of the few issues upon which a large number of North and South Koreans agree is antipathy toward the Japanese, a product of the lengthy colonial era. Thus, the willingness shown by the ROK’s President Park Chung-hee to establish diplomatic relations with Japan in 1965 was a brave act, given the sentiments of the South Korean people, and was possible only because authoritarian politics prevailed. Economically, however, it was a brilliant move, enabling economic intercourse between the ROK and Japan to flourish, in terms of both trade and investment, thus playing a significant role in the striking success of Park’s economic development program. In recent years, relations between the ROK and Japan have improved further. At the time of Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Tokyo in early 1999, Prime Minister Obuchi offered a deep apology for Japan’s past actions and policies, using stronger words than were used to the Chinese leaders and justifying this by asserting that Japan’s activities in Korea were more extensive in nature than they had been in China. Kim brought with him an agenda of positive proposals, most of which were accepted. Both economic and cultural relations were abetted, including the introduction of Japanese videos to Korea. However, the animosities and racial divisions have by no means disappeared. The problems are further complicated by virtue of the fact that some 700,000 individuals of Korean ancestry live in Japan, and this community has been sharply divided politically among those supportive of the North, those affiliated with the South, and those “neutral” or non-aligned. In earlier times, the pro-North group, labeled Chosen Soren, the General Federation of Koreans in Japan, were a chief source of investment and foreign capital for the North. More recently, such funds have dwindled, both because of the adverse economic conditions in the DPRK and because of a decline in the Japanese economy. Yet the pro-North group continues its close contacts with Pyongyang, and the DPRK in turn has helped to fund a university in Tokyo. As 2000 ended, the first group of Chosen Soren members was allowed to visit the ROK to meet with relatives. Thus, in a variety of ways, Japan is inextricably connected with events in Korea – North and South. Yet a political impasse continues to exist between the DPRK and Japan despite the economic assistance to the North rendered by Tokyo and periodic negotiations on such key issues as war guilt, comfort women, allegedly kidnapped Japanese, and other matters. Efforts to resolve issues, however, go back nearly two decades. In 1992, bilateral negotiations with the North opened but were suddenly ended over the kidnapping issue. Subsequently, high-level

Korea: the options and perimeters 19 Japanese visits to Pyongyang took place, and the visits to Japan of Japanese wives of North Koreans were allowed. In spite of the reservations of the Japanese public, the government was persuaded to pledge assistance in the funding of KEDO, as noted earlier, and to provide food aid to the North in recent years. In addition, DPRK–Japanese negotiations have continued sporadically on a range of issues from compensation for war guilt to the North’s military activities. As indicated, the 31 August 1998 missile firing aroused strong concern in Japan. Food aid was suspended for a time, and Japanese interest in participating in research with the United States on a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system was heightened. Even earlier, the revised security guidelines announced by Clinton and Hashimoto in 1996 were justified in Japan by reference to the North Korean threat, and that position has not been altered. For its part, Pyongyang continues to employ some of its harshest rhetoric against Japan, despite its interest in securing recognition and economic assistance from Tokyo.18 Charges of callousness with respect to war crimes, rising militarism, and assorted other offenses are frequently aired in the DPRK’s media. Yet given Japan’s importance to the North, negotiations on a wide range of issues continued with various interruptions at the beginning of 2001. Naturally, Japan has reservations about a unified Korea, given the psychological climate between the parties, whether coming through a collapse of the North or through an evolutionary process. It also realizes the potential hazards and costs of reunification, whatever its form. Thus, the status quo is more desirable. Moreover, Japan wants the peninsula to be as tension-free as possible, so as to preclude any conflict or arms race. A military build-up by either or both of the Koreas would almost certainly create a momentum for further Japanese military advances. Looking ahead, the Korean Peninsula represents an important testing ground for relations between China and Japan. Historically, these two major states were rivals, with each desiring primary influence in the peninsula, and contesting the other’s position. Will competition again dominate the scene, creating multiple pressures on Korea, divided or unified, or will an accommodation to a truly sovereign Korea prevail on the part of both nations, and the types of interaction with Korea that will be conducive to stability and regional harmony? Presently, this question cannot be answered with certainty.

Russia In comparison with others, Russia has relatively limited involvement in the Korean issue at present.19 The Russian role, once dominant in the North, began to decline in the aftermath of the Korean War, with China’s influence rising. Nonetheless, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) remained a central support for the DPRK economy, as noted earlier. Employment was even given to North Korean timber-cutters in Siberian forests.20 After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, economic benefits ceased, and there also followed a precipitous decline in Moscow’s relations with Pyongyang on the political front. The North Koreans


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were furious over Russian recognition of the ROK and the ending of “Friendship Prices” for Russian commodities. Moreover, they regarded Gorbachev as a traitor to socialism. In the recent past, Russia has been seeking to rebuild its relations with the North, both as a part of its general drive to regain status as a global power and to have some leverage with respect to the Korean issue. In February 2000, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov made an official visit to Pyongyang, the first by a Russian foreign minister since the disastrous trip of Eduard Shevarnadze in 1990.21 Later in the year, President Vladimir Putin visited the North Korean capital, and had an extensive discussion with Kim Jong-il. These trips represented an effort – partially successful – to re-establish a relation that would be on balance positive. From Putin’s visit came word that Kim Jong-il was prepared to consider an end to missile launchings and sales in exchange for adequate compensation Russia’s relations with South Korea have also improved in both economic and cultural terms, inhibited mainly by Russia’s current economic problems. Moscow has proposed entry together with Japan into the Four-Party Talks or a broader Northeast Asia dialogue. It has been a member of the Track II Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) since its inception in 1993. While entry into the Four-Party Talks has been viewed as premature by the participants, sooner or later Russia will become more actively involved in multilateral efforts in this region. Meanwhile, both North and South Korea have a strong interest in the resources of the Russian Far East, especially oil and gas, and various pipeline proposals are being explored. The Tumen Delta project involving the key Northeast Asian nations remains alive, although agreement on the specifics has not been achieved, with each state having its own priorities. Sooner or later, however, in some form, a NET encompassing the Sea of Japan or East Sea and its bordering regions will become a dynamic engine of growth for the region.

Prospects As can be seen, each of the major nations has a strong stake in the future of the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, in general terms, each has a common interest in seeing the DPRK develop in an evolutionary fashion, intensifying its relations with the ROK; continuing to reach out to nations in the region and beyond (diplomatic relations have recently been established with the Philippines, Australia, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, and a number of other countries); and moving toward confidence-building measures in the security realm, ranging from agreement on missile production and sales to gradual demilitarization of the DMZ, and progressive reduction of North and South Korean military forces. But is an evolutionary process for the DPRK truly feasible? At this point, it is unwise to engage in flat predictions regarding the future of North Korea. Rather, one should posit various scenarios, assign them degrees of probability or improbability, and re-examine the scene at frequent intervals. Let me set forth five possible scenarios.22 One scenario, widely predicted by various observers at an earlier time, is collapse. The assumption is that the leadership of the DPRK

Korea: the options and perimeters 21 will be unwilling to take the measures necessary to salvage the economy, and that the state will ultimately plunge into chaos. This scenario, in my opinion, is unlikely to occur, although it cannot be dismissed. The political control of Chairman Kim and his military leaders seems secure at present; under the prevailing system, the North Korean people have no capacity for an organized upheaval, and the society remains extensively isolated from the external world, hence external influences, despite recent moves. Collapse cannot be ruled out, given the dire economic conditions, but it is improbable. A second, possibly more plausible, scenario is one of growing cleavages within the elite, focused mainly upon the timing and extent of change. The DPRK has a small but increasing number of technocrats in policy-making positions. They must compete for influence with the traditional ideological figures, many of whom are in the military – individuals who have long held power. Turf battles are also possible; indeed, turf consciousness is very strong in the DPRK. At some point, factional divisions might become serious, even causing an open struggle. One faction or another might look for support, whether from China or even from the South. Thus, an internal conflict would become regionalized. Again, this scenario cannot be given a high probability, at least in its more extreme form, but it must continue to be tested. A third scenario is that of minimum change, with controls tightened to keep order but basic decisions made to slow down or retreat from extensive economic changes because of concern about their political consequences. This scenario may be favored by some of the “old guard,” but, given the realities of the situation, it could not be effectuated for any length of time. Standing still is to doom the state, and increasingly this is recognized by Kim Jong-il and his supporters. A fourth scenario is conflict, either as a result of an incident or as a product of a desperate elite, determined to use their military power. The “North Korean threat” has been widely publicized in the ROK, in the United States, and in Japan. Yet it seems highly unrealistic. The primary objective of the DPRK elite is survival, not suicide. They know that, whatever initial damage the North’s military power could inflict on the South, they would shortly be pulverized by ROK and US air, sea, and ground forces. As Kim Jong-il is reported to have said, “We could drop three or four missiles – and then what?” Thus, again, while this scenario should not be eliminated, its probability seems low. The final scenario is the one which both the ROK and the major powers are now working to effectuate, namely an evolutionary process to help the DPRK to replace its deeply flawed economic system with a new strategy and, in the course of this development, to become a part of the world around it, agreeing to measures leading to a reduction of tension on the peninsula and a peace agreement, with the ultimate objective being that of unification in some form. At this point, this scenario appears to have a reasonable chance of achievement, although retreats and temporary crises are entirely possible. Indeed, it is conceivable that scenarios three and five might be interwoven in some degree, with North Korean politics becoming more complex over time, and fissures developing that would require containment in some form. At best, the


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DPRK will become an authoritarian-pluralist state in the course of events, in the fashion of China.

South Korea’s challenges If the political–economic future of the North is subject to many uncertainties, that of the South is also problematic in some aspects, although the domestic scene is far less opaque than that of the North. Democracy in the ROK seems to be fairly well implanted. Regularized elections give the citizenry a wide choice of spokesmen and leaders; extensive freedoms exist to make that choice meaningful; and the rule of law has recently expanded. Yet there are problems. Like most other Asian societies, the ROK has an ancient civilization but also new political institutions that are still evolving. Politics is intensely personalized, with political parties based largely on leader–follower groups rather than on principles or policies. Moreover, leaders – even those who have fought for a lifetime for democracy – are often authoritarian in their dealings with others. In addition, regionalism remains a powerful factor on the political front, dominating elections in many cases. The South Korean economy has shown remarkable gains since the early 1960s, and, in broad terms, represents a success story.23 Yet, like Japan from where it borrowed key elements of its economic strategy, it is finding difficulty in dealing with the age of globalization. The debt-ridden financial–banking system, the overextended chaebol, the lack of transparency, and widespread corruption are ills not easily corrected. While the ROK has made a significant recovery from its earlier crisis, as noted previously, clouds have recently appeared on the horizon. The challenge for President Kim is to carry through the basic reforms promised despite opposition from diverse quarters. Clearly, trends in the ROK’s economy together with the degree of political stability in the South will affect North–South relations, not merely in the economic sphere but in the political–strategic realm as well, a fact that both the politicians and the public must recognize.

Options for a united Korea A final issue relating to Korea warrants consideration. As previously noted, the prospects for Korean unification in the near future seem remote, barring collapse of the DPRK or a conflict. Nor is there strong sentiment in the South for early unification, given the enormous costs that would be involved. In recent times, the leaders of the two states have come closer together in defining future possibilities with respect to a formula for unification, agreeing on some loose form of federation, with the powers of the unified government limited, and ample autonomy for the two entities currently existing. Yet the economic, political and even cultural differences between North and South are so great at present that peaceful unification seems a remote possibility. Nonetheless, it is not too early to consider the options that a unified Korea

Korea: the options and perimeters 23 would face with respect to foreign policy, and the possible impact of the decisions made upon the major powers presently involved with the Korean issue. Historically, Korea had three broad options in seeking to preserve its independence. One was maximum isolation. Not without reason was Korea known at times as the hermit kingdom. Yet that option is totally unrealistic today, as the plight of the DPRK makes clear. A second option was to seek to cultivate balanced and good relations with all of Korea’s neighbors, thereby attempting to provide maximum reasons for those states to preserve the status quo, and accept a limited involvement in Korean affairs. This option was frequently tried but often ended in failure, with one power acquiring – or seeking to acquire – dominance, regarding such a policy as in its national interest. A third option was to seek an alignment with one power – preferably a distant, non-threatening power – to afford Korea protection against others. It is interesting that, as early as the late nineteenth century, the Korean monarch turned to the United States to seek support. At that time, however, the United States had scant interest in involvement on the Asian continent, although some military training under American guidance took place. In the post-1945 era, however, this has been the option followed by successive South Korean governments until the present. However, recently, and especially in the Kim Dae-jung era, there has been an effort to combine options two and three, and with considerable success to date. In the event of unification, much would depend upon the manner in which that status was achieved. Were Seoul to reign supreme over the process, it is likely that some effort to retain security ties with the United States would be made, quite possibly combined with an effort to retain positive relations with others, especially China, to alleviate concerns. Moreover, given the developments in military weaponry and tactics, US troops on Korean soil might well be unnecessary, as noted earlier.

Conclusion Under whatever conditions and circumstances, Korean unification in the foreseeable future would raise complex new issues for each of the major powers, and especially China and the United States. Thus, it is not too early to consider various possible policies and their implications, interacting both with ROK authorities and with others. It should not be forgotten that each of the large states in this region has conflicting territorial claims with each other, except the United States. Moreover, Japan has a conflict with South Korea over an islet in the Japan or East Sea, and the Mount Paektu issue between China and North Korea has never been completely settled. On balance, however, there is reason for cautious optimism with respect to both inter-Korean relations and relations between the two Koreas and the major nations. The domestic priorities of all nations today argue strongly against conflict and in favor of a negotiatory accommodation. Every state, large and small, must cope with the problems that the semi-conflictual forces of internationalism,


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nationalism, and communalism now engender. Citizens everywhere want a concentration on the issues close at hand, i.e. those involving their daily lives. In addition, the advances of the past several years in inter-Korean relations, while not without ambiguities and uncertainties, have been more significant than at any point in the past. Furthermore, they have been generally endorsed by the major powers, with advances in their relations with the two Koreas as testimony. At this point, the challenge is to keep the momentum flowing in a positive direction, and one can hope that a combination of domestic and international developments in all of the states involved will be conducive to that goal.

Notes 1 2

3 4

5 6 7 8 9


11 12 13 14 15

A detailed account of the Carter visit to Pyongyang is presented in Dan Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas – A Contemporary History, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997, pp. 326–336. A series of perceptive essays on the Sunshine Policy are contained in Chung-in Moon and David I. Steinberg (eds) Kim Dae-jung Government and Sunshine Policy: Promises and Challenges, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 1999. See also Chung-in Moon, “The Sunshine Policy and the Korean Summit: assessments and prospects,” East Asian Review, 2000, Winter, pp. 3–36. See “Address by President Kim Dae-jung at the Free University of Berlin,” Korea Update, 2000, 25 March, pp. 2–3. An article setting forth the objectives of South Korean firms with respect to the North and some of the current obstacles is that of Lee Tae-Seop, “South Korean business investment strategy in North Korea,” Korea Focus, 2000, July–August, pp. 32–51. Jae-Chul Kim, “Inter-Korean economic cooperation: the role of the US and South Korea,” The Open Door: News from Korea, 2000, issue 8 (November), pp. l, 3. “2 Koreas reach accords on economic ties,” Korea Times, 2000, 16 December, p. 1. An optimistic appraisal of the project was given to this author and others of an Asia Society delegation that visited the region in 1992. See Kongdan Oh and Ralph C. Hassig, North Korea Through the Looking Glass, Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2000, pp. 43 ff. See Young-Kwan Yoon, “The North Korean problem from a political economic perspective: why do we need a new approach?” unpublished paper presented to a Conference on Inter-Korean Relations, Seoul, 2000 (this is available from R.A. Scalapino). For figures on the ROK’s aid to the North through 1999, see Korea Institute for National Unification, The Unification Environment and Relations Between South and North Korea: 1999–2000, Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2000, pp. 146–151. For a recent evaluation of the ROK’s economic scene and the pressures on President Kim, see John Larkin, “Korea’s winter of discontent,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 2000, 7 December, pp. 16–20. On the first visit, see the account by Sang-Hun Choe, “N. Koreans head south for visits,” The Associated Press, Seoul, 28 November 2000. See “Ground-breaking for the Seoul–Shinuiju Railway,” Korean Unification Bulletin, 2000, no. 23 (September), pp. 1, 6. Details are provided in Scott Snyder, Negotiating on the Edge – North Korean Negotiating Behavior, Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace Press, 1999. For an evaluation of the Perry Report, see Ralph Cossa and Alan Oxley, “The US–

Korea: the options and perimeters 25

16 17





22 23

Korea Alliance,” in Robert D. Blackwell and Paul Dibb (eds) America’s Asian Alliances, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2000, pp. 66–67. “An auspicious toast? Albright holds historic talks with Kim Jong-il,” Korea Now, 2000, 4 November, pp. 5–6. See Hung Yung Lee, “China and the two Koreas: new emerging triangle,” in Young Whan Kihl (ed.) Korea and the World – Beyond the Cold War, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994. For a recent Korean perspective, see Lee Jung-min, “A geopolitical shift: Korean peninsula after the summit,” East Asian Review, 2000, Winter, pp. 53– 70. For recent examples, see two stories in The People’s Korea, 23 December 2000: Ri Sang Yong, “Women’s international tribunal finds Japan responsible for wartime sexual slavery, ‘Emperor Showa’ guilty,” pp. l, 6, and “History of 20th century indicts Japan,” p. 7. A comprehensive treatment of Russian policies in East Asia is contained in the essays assembled by Gilbert Rozman, Mikhail G. Nosov, and Koji Watanabe (eds) Russia and East Asia – The 21st Century Security Environment, vol. 3 in the series Eurasia in the 21st Century: The Total Security Environment, East–West Institute, Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999. For two earlier studies of continuing worth, see Kim YuNam (ed.) Soviet Russia, North Korea, and South Korea in the 1990s, Seoul: Dankook University Press, 1992; and Il Yung Chung (ed.) Korea and Russia – Toward the 21st Century, Seoul: The Sejong Institute, 1992. At one of the two conferences in Moscow sponsored by the Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, and the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, Moscow, in 1997, the situation with respect to North Korean timber workers was discussed, with some of the problems from a Russian perspective outlined. This author was present for the discussion. See the essays by Sergey Sevastyanov, “Russian reforms: implications for security policy and the status of the military in the Russian Far East,” and by James Clay Moltz, “Russian nuclear regionalism: emerging local influences over Far Eastern facilities,” NBR Analysis, 2000, vol. 2, no. 4 (December), Seattle, WA: The National Bureau of Asian Research. These scenarios were first set forth in Robert A. Scalapino, North Korea at a Crossroads, Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 1997. A useful recent publication on the Korean economy is Korea Economic Institute of America and the Korea Institute of International Economic Policy, Korea’s Economy 2000, Washington, DC, 2000.


The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit Assessments and prospects* Chung-in Moon

Introduction The Korean Peninsula has long been considered the last relic of the Cold War era where protracted military tension has outweighed prospects for peace and stability. Defying the global trend of progress toward a post-Cold War order, both Koreas have engaged in the vicious circle of suspicion, distrust, and mutual negation, often flaring up in military clashes. As recently as June 1999, a perilous naval clash heightened the potential for a major escalation. Indeed, peace has been distant, while conflict has been near. Perpetual insecurity and fear of war have haunted the Korean people. A major breakthrough came in June 2000 in the wake of the Korean summit in Pyongyang. Technically speaking, North and South Korea are in a state of war, and it is virtually unthinkable for the South Korean leader to pay a visit to the heart of the enemy’s territory. In fact, the South Korean military was put under the highest state of alert during President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Pyongyang. At the first historic North–South Korean summit, President Kim and Chairman Kim Jong-il produced a joint declaration that will serve as the basic document guiding peaceful co-existence and national unification on the Korean Peninsula. Without doubt, the summit meeting and the 15 June Declaration are products partly of the Kim Dae-jung government’s Sunshine Policy. Were it not for the patient and consistent pursuit of the Sunshine Policy, such new developments could have been inconceivable. The Sunshine Policy has aimed at paving the way to peaceful co-existence and national unification through the dismantling of the Cold War structure, which has dictated the geopolitical fate of the Korean Peninsula since the end of the Second World War. Although actual implementation is yet to be seen, the summit meeting marks a decisive momentum in an evolution toward a new peace system. Against this backdrop, this chapter will trace impacts of the summit meeting on the dismantling of the Cold War structure on the Korean Peninsula. The first section examines the evolving nature of the Sunshine Policy and its ramifications, and the second section looks into ideals and practices of the Sunshine Policy since its inception. In the third section, the chapter traces the dynamic of the June summit meeting and offers an in-depth analysis of the 15 June Joint Declaration. The fourth section renders impact assessments of the summit meeting on the

The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit


dismantling of the Cold War structure. Finally, the chapter explores prospects for inter-Korean relations in the post-summit period.

The Kim Dae-jung government and the Sunshine Policy: a re-examination1 The Korean summit was truly unexpected. Several factors contributed to the making of the historic event in June, but, essentially, it can be seen as a product of the Kim Dae-jung government’s Sunshine Policy.2 The origins of the Sunshine Policy go back to 1994. On 30 September 1994, Kim Dae-jung, who was then a defeated presidential candidate, delivered an interesting speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC. While praising highly Jimmy Carter’s visit to North Korea and the subsequent defusing of the North Korean nuclear crisis through negotiations with Kim Il-sung, Kim Dae-jung noted, “America must be patient and stick to the ‘Sunshine Policy’ which proved to be the only effective way to deal with isolated countries like North Korea.”3 Citing a well-known Aesop’s fable of “wind and sunshine,” Kim argued that sunshine was more effective than strong wind in inducing North Korea to come out of isolation and confrontation. Kim Dae-jung initially used the analogy of sunshine in order to persuade the American government to pursue a soft-landing policy in dealing with North Korea. But when he was elected president, the Sunshine Policy became the official South Korean policy toward North Korea. In a speech delivered at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, on 4 April 1998, Kim described the Sunshine Policy as follows: “The Republic is now able to push a North Korean policy with self-confidence arising from firm public support. I have been steadfast in advocating what I call a ‘Sunshine Policy’ which seeks to lead North Korea down a path toward peace, reform, and openness through reconciliation, interaction, and cooperation with the South. As President, I will carry out such ideas step by step.”4 The Sunshine Policy can be seen as a proactive policy to induce incremental and voluntary changes in North Korea for peace, opening, and reforms through a patient pursuit of reconciliation, exchanges, and cooperation. As will be discussed below, the Sunshine Policy goes beyond simple engagement. It comprises several components such as military deterrence, international collaboration, and domestic consensus. Nevertheless, its objective is crystal clear: to lay the foundation for peaceful Korean unification by severing the vicious cycle of negative and hostile actions and reactions and promoting peaceful co-existence and peaceful exchanges and cooperation.5 The Sunshine Policy is framed on three fundamental principles, as outlined by President Kim’s inaugural speech. First is the principle of non-tolerance of military threat or armed provocation by North Korea. Second is the official abandonment of the idea of unification by absorption and the negation of any other measures to undermine or threaten North Korea. And the third is the promotion of exchanges and cooperation through resumption of the 1991 Basic Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression, Exchanges, and Cooperation.6


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A close examination of the Sunshine Policy reveals at least five major operating principles. The most pronounced component is strategic offensive. The Sunshine Policy is often accused of being a fragile appeasement policy or a policy of the weak. In actuality, however, it is an extremely offensive and proactive policy. In the past, Seoul’s policy toward Pyongyang was mostly reactive, often resulting in inconsistent, incoherent, and even erratic policy outcomes. The Kim Dae-jung government wants to overhaul this passive and reactive policy by taking its own initiatives. The ROK government is dedicated to the pursuit of engagement through exchanges and cooperation despite North Korea’s initial negative responses. Such policy might sound like an appeasement, but, as the analogy of sunshine implies, it is penetrative and comprehensive. No clouds can perpetually block the penetration of sunshine since the latter is constant whereas the former is temporal. With a little more patience and endurance – the Kim government believes – active engagement will eventually thaw the frozen mind of the North Korean leadership, yielding peaceful co-existence as well as economic opening and reforms. The second operating principle is flexible dualism, which is predicated on major changes in a sequential order of inter-Korean interactions. New terms of engagement with the North under the Kim government can be summarized as follows: (1) easy tasks first, and difficult tasks later; (2) economy first, politics later; (3) non-governmental organizations first, government later; (4) give first, and take later.7 The policy represents a profound paradigm shift in managing interKorean relations. Past governments failed to overcome the inter-Korean stalemate precisely because of their rigid adherence to the principles of “government first, civil society later,” “political–economic linkage,” and “the primacy of mechanical reciprocity.” Thus, the Sunshine Policy can be characterized as being incremental, pragmatic, and functionalist in dealing with the North. The core of flexible dualism can be found in the separation of politics and economy. Previous governments were preoccupied with the primacy of politics and its linkage to the economy. However, such attitudes entailed structural barriers to the promotion of inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation, not only because of the compartmentalized decision-making structure in the North that separates politics from the economy but also because of the negative backlash associated with it. Temporal improvements in inter-Korean relations through socio-economic exchanges were instantly wiped out by new political bottlenecks or sporadic military provocation by the North, producing an amplified feed-back loop of distrust and hostility. But the Kim government is attempting to sever the mechanism of negative re-enforcement between the two by pledging itself to the promotion of economic exchanges and cooperation even if the North engages in military and political provocation. As a matter of fact, infiltration of North Korean submarines in the South, resumption of a negative propaganda campaign by the North, and the naval clash in the West Coast have not blocked the continued pursuit of economic exchanges and cooperation. It is this functional flexibility that distinctively differentiates the Sunshine Policy from the previous governments’ North Korean policy. The third operating principle of the Sunshine Policy is the simultaneous pursuit

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of engagement and security, in which credible military deterrence is emphasized. This is the most delicate aspect of the Sunshine Policy. The Kim Dae-jung government is keenly aware of acute military threat from the North and is more than willing to deter it through strengthened security posture. It believes that effective engagement policy is plausible only when South Korea remains strong and is well prepared for military deterrence. The credible deterrence is based on two concepts. One is the principle of specific reciprocity. Although North Korea’s armed provocation will not automatically lead to a suspension of economic and social exchanges and cooperation, it will not be tolerated either. Such behavior will be immediately balanced out or reciprocated through punitive measures in kind. South Korea’s forceful retaliation for North Korea’s recent intrusion into the West Coast exemplifies the implementation of the principle of specific reciprocity. The other principle is to secure a position of strength through the continuation of the ROK–US alliance. The Kim government believes that ROK– US combined forces will be sufficient to deter any military aggression from the North.8 In light of this, the Sunshine Policy does not presuppose any departure from the old policy of military deterrence and alliance management. There are elements of continuity. A renewed emphasis on international collaboration constitutes another important dimension. Although the Korean conflict and unification should be resolved by and for Koreans themselves, the Kim government recognizes the importance of international collaboration with major actors in the region. Maximization of international collaboration is critical not only because it can facilitate conflict management on the Korean Peninsula but also because it can help North Korea to manage to land softly. For the management of the Korean conflict, the Kim government has stressed the continuation of the four-party talks. It has also proposed the two-plus-four formula and the establishment of a Northeast Asian security cooperation regime in order to shape a new security environment conducive to tension reduction as well as peace and building security on the Korean Peninsula. For the soft landing of North Korea, the Kim government has been calling for two practical measures: North Korea’s diplomatic normalization with the United States and Japan on the one hand, and the creation of an international milieu favorable to North Korea’s economic opening and reform on the other. The second measure could be achieved by lifting existing sanctions on the North and facilitating North Korean access to international capital through its membership in multilateral lending institutions, i.e. the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Asia Development Bank, as well as by fostering private foreign investments in the North.9 The final component is the centrality of domestic consensus. Seoul’s traditional North Korean policy was guided by two sets of implicit operating logic. One is the clandestine management of inter-Korean relations and the other is its domestic political utilization. A breakthrough in inter-Korean relations via Park Chunghee’s 4 July communiqué, Chun Doo-hwan’s near success at the summit meeting with Kim Il-sung, and Roh Tae-woo’s nordpolitik and inter-Korean rapprochement were all engineered through clandestine operations. Such elite maneuvers lacking


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transparency eventually undermined the legitimacy of the previous governments’ policy initiatives. The inseparable linkage between domestic politics and interKorean relations exacerbates this effect. As the Northwind scandal aptly illustrates, ruling regimes in the past contrived military tensions with the North during presidential or general elections, and took advantage of the ensuing insecurity to win conservative votes.10 Political abuse and misuse of inter-Korean relations considerably weakened the foundation of domestic consensus and marginalized the North Korean policy. Having been a victim of such political maneuvering, President Kim officially declared that his government does not have any intention to politicize inter-Korean relations and that transparency and domestic consensus will guide its North Korean policy. In view of the above, the Sunshine Policy reveals both continuity and discontinuity from previous governments. Emphasis on the resumption of the Basic Agreement underscores adherence to old soft-line policies of the 4 July Joint Communiqué under Park Chung-hee, Roh Tae-woo’s nordpolitik and the 4 July Declaration, and even Kim Young-sam’s engagement policy in the early period of his administration. And, as noted before, the Kim Dae-jung government has made it clear that it would not compromise national security in the pursuit of engagement. The top priority of strong security posture in the Sunshine Policy, along with the cardinal importance of a South Korean–US alliance, also shows elements of continuity. But some discontinuities are also evident in the Sunshine Policy. The most salient difference comes from changes in structural parameters. While previous policies were bound by the Cold War template of confrontation and containment, the new policy is predicated on its dissolution in terms of ideology, institution, and an external milieu. There is also a divergence in operational mode. Kim Dae-jung’s policy is much more proactive, offensive, and strategic, while previous policies were reactive, defensive, and tactical. Its scope is far more comprehensive than previous ones by favoring all-out interactions with the North. Its time framework is also substantially different. While the previous governments opted for immediate gains, the Kim Dae-jung government aims at achieving medium- and long-term gains, in which patience and endurance are stressed. At the same time, the Sunshine Policy rejects an instrumental use of inter-Korean relations for domestic political purposes, while previous policies were inseparably intertwined with domestic political manipulation.

Ideals and practice of the Sunshine Policy: an interim assessment11 All policies are instruments of achieving certain national goals. Ideals or goals, thus, serve as the basic foundation on which policies are formulated and navigated. What then are the ideals of the Sunshine Policy? Five major ideals can be conceived of.12 The first ideal is the absolute rejection of any war or major military conflicts on the Korean Peninsula. President Kim has repeatedly argued that nothing can justify war and that it should be prevented at any cost. In a similar vein, he has

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persistently called for the removal of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear and biochemical weapons. War can destroy all that we have achieved. It could bring about a national unification, but the unification achieved through violent means is likely to breed seeds of another national division and hatred. The primacy of peace over war is well documented in President Kim’s three principles of peace that he had long championed even before he became president. They are peaceful co-existence (peace-building through the termination of hostile relations, arms reduction, and mutual surveillance as well as through the establishment of a multilateral security cooperation regime); peaceful exchange (restoration of common national identity through political, economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian interactions and expansion of common interests through increased economic exchanges); and peaceful unification (incremental unification and the rejection of unification by absorption, military power or manipulation).13 The Sunshine Policy can be seen as a reflection of these three principles of peace. Kim is not an idealist pacifist, however. While believing in the virtue of peace, he is equally aware of the vulnerability of peace-making and peace-keeping. Emphasis on security emanates from his prudent understanding that weak security posture can precipitate an adversary’s hostile action, jeopardizing peace per se. Thus, his Sunshine Policy is firmly anchored in the traditional wisdom that those who wish to achieve peace must prepare for war. It is with this understanding that the Kim Dae-jung government has undertaken the engagement policy based on strong security posture. It might sound paradoxical. But the very paradox is the essence of the Korean conflict in which peace and war constantly overlap. North and South Korea strive toward national unification, while perceiving each other as the main enemy. Such an ambivalent nature of the Korean problem led to the adoption of the dualistic policy of peaceful co-existence and strong security. Likewise, the first ideal of the Sunshine Policy can be characterized as a mixture of peace and security in which peace-making through engagement and reconciliation and peace-keeping through strong security and war prevention are simultaneously pursued. The second ideal is related to the concept of de facto or quasi-unification. The Sunshine Policy assumes that de jure unification through mutual consensus and national referendum could take much longer. Cognizant of realistic constraints, the Kim Dae-jung government aims at creating de facto or quasi-unification, in which exchanges of personnel as well as goods and services are fully activated, and confidence-building and arms control can be materialized. The quasiunification thesis is justified for both its feasibility and immediate humanitarian concerns for the first generation of separated families, who could pass away soon. More importantly, de jure unification might not be achieved without first learning how to co-exist peacefully through exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas.14 However, de facto or quasi-unification should not be interpreted as a perpetual state of national division and peaceful co-existence. As President Kim’s threestage approach to unification demonstrates, it represents only the first stage of unification, involving a gradual preparation for unification through the formation


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of a confederation of republics (or states) in which both parties retain their sovereignty. Kim hopes that, during the first stage (about ten years), the North Korean system would undergo a dramatic change for an open market system and an improved political system based on a multi-party system and free elections. He argues that the first stage of forming a confederation needs to be approved by the people through a national referendum. The second stage involves unification in the form of a federal system that is composed of one federation and two local governments. In this stage, both republics are to lose their sovereignty and the newly formed federation will determine foreign and national defense policy, even intervening in important domestic affairs. The final stage is complete unification based on one nation, one state, and one government. Kim envisages that the newly unified Korea will be founded on democracy and an open market economy.15 After all, the Sunshine Policy assumes a very much open-ended and long-term process of realizing national unification on the Korean Peninsula, distinguishing itself from previous quick-fix approaches. The third ideal is an anticipation that President Kim’s policy of engagement and accommodation can bring about changes in North Korea and that its transformation into a normal state can offer a decisive momentum for peaceful co-existence on the Korean Peninsula. What kinds of changes does the policy anticipate? There can be changes on several levels: people, policy, government, regime, system, and state sovereignty.16 What the Sunshine Policy attempts to achieve is rather modest: to change people’s minds and policies. As the Basic Agreement stipulates, the Kim Dae-jung government does not intend to change or undermine the North Korean government, the Kim Jong-il regime, the juche system, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Any attempt to do so is tantamount to interfering with the internal matters of North Korea, which is an outright violation of the Basic Agreement. The Sunshine Policy simply presupposes that an increasing frequency in exchanges and cooperation can spontaneously foster North Korea’s institutional and behavioral changes and changes in its people’s minds in the direction of an open-door approach, reforms, and ultimately peaceful co-existence. This line of reasoning stems from an alternative way of understanding North Korea. The Sunshine Policy does not anticipate that the Kim Jong-il regime or North Korea will collapse soon. It conceives that the thesis of imminent collapse of North Korea is premature and even misleading. The German unification, the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the communist bloc, and the death of Kim Ilsung did not lead to the end of the North Korean regime nor to the end of its state sovereignty. On the contrary, North Korea has shown extraordinary durability of its regime. Pyongyang’s intensifying campaign to build Kangsundaekuk (a strong and prosperous nation) underscores the fallacy of the imminent collapse thesis par excellence.17 Keenly aware of this reality, the Kim Dae-jung government has set up a goal of changing North Korea in an incremental manner. Fostering the collapse of the North Korean regime and system could backfire, ultimately undermining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Even incremental changes could jeopardize the security of the regime in the North. But equating

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incremental changes with total collapse seems to be faulty reasoning. Depending on leadership choice, incremental changes can be either liabilities or assets. Thus, the end result is entirely North Korea’s choice. The fourth ideal is the centrality of South Korea in managing the Korean problem and the external security environment. The Sunshine Policy recognizes the importance of the four major powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula, but refutes the traditional balance of power determinism. The big powers might constrain South Korea’s behavior, but cannot dictate its destiny. Although national division and the Korean conflict are products of Cold War bipolarity, it is the mandate of the Koreans to demolish the confining structure of the Cold War and to bring peace and stability to the Korean Peninsula through their own initiative. The Kim Dae-jung government believes that it can alter the behavior of the four major powers, including the United States. Such a belief is most clearly evident in Kim Dae-jung’s efforts to dismantle the Cold War structure. His efforts comprise six elements: improvement of inter-Korean relations, normalization of North Korea–US relations, normalization of North Korea–Japan relations, encouragement of North Korea’s participation in the international community, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and acceleration of arms control, and replacement of the armistice agreement by a North–South Korean peace treaty.18 The efforts reveal that South Korea is more than willing to play the role of facilitator or mediator in North Korea’s diplomatic normalization with Japan and the United States and in promoting the inflow of foreign capital into North Korea. The dismantling of the Cold War structure is conducive to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula precisely because it can alter North Korea’s behavior. The Sunshine Policy assumes that North Korean behavior can be tamed if proper external incentives are granted. North Korea slid into a rogue state, or an extortion state, not simply because of its regime structure and aggressive ideology but also because of international isolation and containment. An improved external environment can transform North Korea into a normal state. Lifting of sanctions and international recognition, for example diplomatic normalization with Japan and the United States, can induce North Korea to behave as a rational actor and a constructive member of the international community.19 The final ideal is the attempt by the Kim Dae-jung government to achieve domestic consensus and bipartisan political support for the Sunshine Policy. It might sound as utopian as anticipating voluntary changes in North Korea. In a democracy, it is rarely possible to forge bipartisan political support for foreign or public policies. However, Kim believes that, as far as policy on North Korea and national unification is concerned, forming a domestic consensus and winning bipartisan support is not impossible. Previous governments’ policy on North Korea failed to win public support largely because of their domestic political abuse and misuse. The de-politicization of policy, coupled with appropriate education and persuasion, may well mitigate domestic opposition and promote national consensus and bipartisan political support. People will realize that the Sunshine Policy is the only feasible and desirable option in dealing with North Korea. If there is any


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opposition, it must be a result of ignorance and misunderstanding of the Sunshine Policy, not of a genuine disagreement.20 The utopian logic of harmony of interests strongly prevails in the reasoning of the Sunshine Policy. Despite its realistic ideals, practice of the Sunshine Policy was very much mixed. The ideal of no war and immediate peace now was tainted with several negative developments. For the past two years, there have been no major breakthroughs in tension reduction, confidence-building measures, or peacemaking. On the contrary, both Koreas were at the brink of a major escalation of conflict in June 1999 in the wake of the naval clash on the west coast. In addition to this, the Sunshine Policy was greeted with infiltration of North Korean spy submarines, the reactivation of intensified denunciation of the South Korean government, and the launching of the Taepodong 1 long-range missile. The old pattern of military confrontation still remained, undercutting the Sunshine Policy. The idea of de facto unification fared better. Although inter-Korean governmental contacts remained minimal, social, economic, and cultural exchanges proliferated. Since the Hyundai Group signed the concession agreement on tourist development of Mount Kumkang with the North in November 1998, more than 200,000 South Koreans have visited Mount Kumkang. The engagement policy has also accelerated inter-Korean personnel exchanges. For the ten years between 1989 and 1997, 2,408 South Koreans visited North Korea for economic, social, and personal reasons. But since the implementation of the Sunshine Policy, there has been a phenomenal growth in the number of visitors to the North. In less than two years – between February 1998 and November 1999 – 8,509 South Koreans have visited the North for various purposes. The frequency of reunions of separated families also rose exponentially, even though the reunions took place in China. The economic crisis in 1997 slowed economic exchanges and cooperation. However, as the South Korean economy began to recover, the volume of interKorean trade rose rapidly. By December 1999, more than 130 South Korean firms had set up offshore production sites in the North. Such remarkable progress in inter-Korean exchanges notwithstanding, de facto unification is far from reality. The objective of transforming North Korea into a normal state was also mixed. The Kim Dae-jung government worked hard in this regard. Not only was it instrumental in realigning US policy on North Korea from a hard-line stance to a soft-line one by persuading Washington to adopt the Perry process, it was also active in promoting North Korea’s diplomatic normalization with Japan and other countries.21 At the same time, it strongly advocated North Korea’s admission to the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank, and the Regional Forum of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Despite these efforts, North Korea’s unruly behavior continued. The surprising launch of the Taepodong 1 missile on 31 August 1998 alarmed the entire world, heightening its fear of North Korea’s erratic behavior. In addition, continuing suspicion over nuclear facilities in Kumchangri and elsewhere led some conservative critics in South Korea, Japan, and the United States to brand North Korea as a rogue state, undermining South Korea’s efforts.

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The Kim Dae-jung government’s pledge to resolve the Korean question through its own initiatives also remained unfulfilled. South Korea could not resume direct channels of communication with the North, and the United States was playing a mediating role. While the United States was operating multiple channels with the North involving nuclear and missile negotiations, the Kim government could not engage in direct talks with the North. Such salient issues as the status of the armistice treaty, confidence-building measures, and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula were left to negotiations within the framework of the four-party talks. South Korea was able to hold vice-ministerial talks with the North twice in 1998 and 1999 over the issue of fertilizer assistance, but both meetings failed without producing any tangible results. North Korea also turned down the South Korean proposal to exchange special envoys. Likewise, the centrality of South Korea in resolving the Korean question did not work out primarily because of a lack of cooperation by the North. The foundation of domestic consensus also became fragile. In contrast to an earlier, overwhelming endorsement by the majority of South Koreans, the Sunshine Policy began to lose its popular support base. Several factors contributed to the declining popular support. First, the lack of corresponding responses from the North critically undermined the efficacy of the Sunshine Policy. Some critics even portrayed the Sunshine Policy as one-sided love. Second, fatigue effects became all the more visible. The Kim Dae-jung government tried to capitalize too much on the Sunshine Policy, but it failed to yield convincing results. Finally, deepening ideological polarization at home blurred the focus of the engagement policy. Conservative forces began to accuse it of being a policy of appeasement that could ultimately endanger South Korea’s national security posture. Sagging performance, along with North Korea’s cynical negation, has severely eroded domestic support. The Sunshine Policy has not fared well. While it proved to be useful in promoting exchanges and cooperation on the private sector level, fostering the process of limited de facto unification, the Sunshine Policy was not able to produce concrete results in other areas. Peace remained elusive, and potential for conflict escalation was high. Whereas North Korea and the United States were shaping the geopolitical destiny of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea played a rather passive role in the Korean drama. Moreover, North Korea, still obsessed with the ideology of juche and building a strong and prosperous nation, did not show any signs of voluntary changes. These developments undercut the thrust of the Sunshine Policy, deteriorating the foundation of domestic consensus. A major turning point came in April 2000. Four days before the general election on 13 April 2000, the Kim Dae-jung government made a shocking announcement that both Koreas had agreed to hold a summit meeting in Pyongyang during 12– 14 June. The faltering Sunshine Policy was vindicated. At last President Kim Dae-jung delivered his inaugural pledge to hold the summit meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-il during his reign.


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The Korean summit and the 15 June Declaration: an analysis Observing the North–South Korean summit was like watching a surreal movie.22 The reception of President Kim by Chairman Kim at the Sunan airport, the ceremonial inspection of the North Korean military guard, the two leaders traveling to the Pakhwawon state guest house without any attendees, and the overall ambience during the summit meeting betrayed the old portrait of military animosity between the two Koreas. The summit meeting was like an extended family gathering. No vestiges of suspicion, distrust, animosity, and hostility – all of which had long governed the psychic template of the elite and the ordinary people of both Koreas – could be found. War was forgotten and peace was near. The climax of the summit meeting came during the farewell luncheon hosted by Chairman Kim Jong-il. Before the official luncheon started, Vice-Marshal Myongrok Cho, the first Vice-Chairman of the National Defense Commission and the third in North Korea’s power hierarchy, and Dong-won Lim, Director of the National Intelligence Service of South Korea in charge of covert espionage warfare on the North, exchanged brief speeches pledging their support of the summit meeting and the 15 June declaration. The most significant result of the summit meeting was the adoption of the 15 June North–South Joint Declaration.23 It is composed of five items. The first item states that “the North and the South have agreed to resolve the question of reunification independently and through the joint efforts of the Korean people, who are the masters of the country.” The statement appears to reaffirm North Korea’s traditional position, which emphasized the principle of independence and autonomy. But a closer examination reveals that there is a striking contrast with previous North Korean positions, i.e. the exclusion of foreign influence and interference has been omitted. North Korea had always insisted on the exclusion of foreign influence and interference as a precondition for improved inter-Korean relations. Obviously, the exclusion of foreign interference referred to the status of the American forces in the South and the ROK–US military alliance. For the North, it is virtually inconceivable to resolve the Korean question, including reunification, without first withdrawing American forces from the South and terminating the South Korean–United States military alliance. The 15 June Joint Declaration, however, does not include such wordings, leaving room for international cooperation with the four major powers, including the United States. Thus, the statement can be re-read as the following: the question of Korean reunification should be resolved through self-initiating joint efforts of the two Koreas, who are the principal parties to the Korean problem.24 The fact that both leaders recognized the importance of cooperative self-initiative (hyopryokjok jajoo) over an exclusive one (baetajok jajoo) in resolving the Korean question represents a major paradigm shift in discourses on Korean unification. It is so precisely because the two sides admitted the complexity of the Korean problem, which is entangled with the regional security environment. This issue can be further corroborated by Chairman Kim Jong-il’s statements on the status of the American

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forces in the South. Chairman Kim is known to concur with President Kim’s view of the American forces in the South. President Kim justified the continuing US presence on three accounts: a credible deterrent to war on the Korean Peninsula; an equilibrator to stabilize the regional strategic environment; and ultimately a peace-maker or peace-insurer, even after Korean unification. Chairman Kim recognized the instrumental value of American forces by quipping, “American forces can prevent you from invading the North.”25 The second item of the joint declaration touches on a more sensitive issue, namely the modes of Korean unification. It states, “Acknowledging that there is a common element in the South’s proposal for a confederation and the North’s proposal for a loose form of federation as the formulae for achievement of unification, the South and the North agreed to promote reunification in that direction.” This item was most hotly debated. It is known that Chairman Kim took the initiative on the issue of national unification. He urged President Kim to adopt the Koryo Confederal Democratic Republic as a gift to the Korean nation. As a matter of fact, North Korea has persistently adhered to the Koryo confederal model since the late Kim Il-sung proposed it on 10 October 1980 on the occasion of the sixth plenary session of the Korean Workers’ Party.26 The North Korean proposal of confederation is much closer to federation than to confederation in the strict sense. It is predicated on the notion of “one nation, one unified state, two local governments, and two systems,” in which diplomatic sovereignty and rights over military command and control are assumed to belong to one central government while other functions are delegated to the jurisdiction of two local governments. In his 1991 new year message, Kim Il-sung proposed a loose form of confederation by stating that “in order to achieve a national consensus on the Koryo Confederal Democratic Republic more easily, we are willing to discuss a loose form of confederation with the South which would temporarily bestow greater power and autonomy to local governments and gradually enhance functions of the central government over time in the future.”27 For all the slight amendment of the original version, the North Korean government and officials have consistently insisted that the confederal model is the only path to national unification.28 President Kim responded that it was virtually impossible to make a transition from the state of national division and conflict to a completed stage of (con)federation at once. Merging diplomatic sovereignty and integrating military command and control are not easy tasks. President Kim cited the Yemeni example, where hasty military integration within the framework of federation derailed the entire process of unification. According to him, the stage of federation (yonbang) cannot be reached without going through the stage of confederation (union of states; yonhap). His version of confederation is predicated on “one nation, two states, two governments, and two systems,” which is similar to a union of states as in the case of the European Union or the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). But there have been two types of confederation scheme available in the South. One is the union of republics (gonghwakuk yonhap), which President Kim suggested as the first stage of his three-stage approach to national unification, and the other is the union of North and South (nambuk yonhap), which former


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President Roh Tae-woo proposed as an interim stage of his commonwealth model of Korean unification.29 Kim’s union of republics presupposes reasonable political confidence-building, a free market system, and a pluralist political system as preconditions for confederation. Once confederation is established, it becomes easier to reach the stage of federation and, ultimately, a unified state. Meanwhile, Roh’s commonwealth model posits reconciliation, exchanges, and cooperation as the first stage, through which the North–South union and, ultimately, one unified nation-state can evolve. While Kim Dae-jung’s model includes federation as an interim stage, Roh’s model skips the stage of federation and assumes a direct transition from the interim stage of North–South union to a unified state. Interestingly, President Kim proposed Roh’s interim stage, i.e. the North–South union, as an alternative to North Korea’s federation scheme. The interim stage comprises four distinct elements: (1) the peaceful management of national division and military conflict through tension reduction, confidence-building measures, arms control and reduction, and an inter-Korean peace treaty; (2) the promotion of exchanges and cooperation to foster national unification; (3) institutional realignments to promote inter-Korean social integration, through which hostile institutions are removed and friendly institutions are enforced and a framework for reunification is formulated; (4) the institutionalization of a confederation or union of North and South Korea by formalizing summit meetings, ministerial meetings, parliamentary meetings, and ultimately an umbrella consultative body between the two Koreas. The North Korean leader was receptive to the proposal. Both leaders have indeed agreed on at least two points: Korean reunification can be achieved through incremental and functionalist approaches, and the last stage of confederation (South Korean proposal) – namely formalization of the summit, ministerial, and parliamentary meetings – converges with the loose form of federation (North Korean proposal). The convergence of discourses on unification formulae, which used to compete in a parallel mode, can be seen as one of the most significant achievements of the summit. The third item of the joint declaration deals with the reunion of separated families. It stated: “The South and the North have agreed to promptly resolve humanitarian issues such as exchange visits by separated family members and relatives on the occasion of the August 15 National Liberation Day and the question of unswerving Communists who have been given long prison sentences in the South.” In Pyongyang, President Kim persistently sought the resolution of the issue of separated families. Chairman Kim willingly accepted the South Korean proposal. However, he also made a counter-proposal: he wanted the return of those North Korean spies and sympathizers who were released from jail after serving long-term sentences but who refused to be law-abiding South Korean citizens for ideological reasons. The South accepted the proposal within the broad framework of comprehensive humanitarianism. Such a move might have been motivated to resolve other pending issues, such as the return of South Korean fishermen and prisoners of war who are still kept in the North. The joint declaration also made a major breakthrough in economic, social, and cultural exchanges. The fourth item stipulates that “The South and the North have

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agreed to consolidate mutual trust by promoting balanced development of the national economy through economic cooperation and by stimulating cooperation and exchanges in civic, cultural, sports, public health, environmental and all other fields.” This agreement was also very much anticipated before the summit meeting. But there are several noticeable developments. One is related to economic cooperation. In previous agreements with the North, such as the 4 July Joint Communiqué and the Basic Agreement, economic exchanges and cooperation were regarded as goals per se. But the 15 June Declaration treats them as instruments to promote the balanced development of the national economy. The usage of the term “national economy” is also refreshing since it assumes integration of North and South Korean economies. Balanced development also appears to have a new semantic nuance. It could imply that the South is ready to assist the North in leveling off the latter’s economy in a similar way to the former’s and that the South will neither exploit the North through market mechanisms nor extend unilateral concessions to the North. Apart from the traditional emphasis on social and cultural exchanges and cooperation, the joint declaration specifically singles out public health and environmental issues that reflect North Korea’s preference. The fifth item states: “The South and the North have agreed to hold a dialogue between relevant authorities in the near future to implement the above agreements expeditiously.” In order to implement the above agreements, it is quite natural that both Koreas activate official channels of dialogue and negotiation. In light of past experiences, however, this provision also reveals a fundamental departure. North Korea has always refused to have official dialogues with the South. Instead, it has been trying to expand contacts with civic organizations and business firms by circumventing the South Korean government. As such, it was reluctant to recognize the legitimacy of the South Korean government while projecting itself as the sole legitimate government on the Korean Peninsula. But on the occasion of the summit, the North changed its previous position by recognizing the South as the legitimate counterpart for dialogue and negotiation. As a result, channels of dialogue between the North and the South have become realigned from nongovernmental ones to inter-governmental ones. Finally, President Kim succeeded in winning Chairman Kim’s agreement on a reciprocal visit to Seoul. Chairman Kim initially opposed the inclusion of his visit to Seoul in a written form, but he was persuaded by President Kim to do so. The formalization of Kim’s visit in the declaration is important since it signals the continuation of inter-Korean summit talks. All in all, the summit meeting and the 15 June declaration presented a historic turning point in inter-Korean relations. Both leaders were able to build mutual trust. And they shared the view that neither the unification by absorption (the previous South Korean intention) nor the unification by force (the previous North Korean position) will be acceptable. The newly formed bond and trust between the two leaders proved to be crucial for tension reduction and confidence-building between the two Koreas. More importantly, they initiated the inter-Korean summit meeting without the help of third-party intermediaries. This represented a radical departure from the past because, until then, the North had refused to have any


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official and direct contacts with the South Korean government. At present, it is not clear whether the North Korean move is tactical or strategic, but it has become clear that it is willing to change, at least in inter-Korean relations. The North Korean attitude has, so far, been sincere and forthcoming. Most of the agreements embodied in the joint declaration are being implemented methodically. A completely different political landscape is on the horizon. Indeed, unthinkable events are taking place at an amazing speed.

Prospects for Korean reunification: newly emerging opportunities and constraints The summit and subsequent developments signify revolutionary changes in interKorean relations. In contrast with the protracted and vicious circle of mutual distrust, negation, and military confrontation which has governed Korea for the past fifty years, recent changes truly reflect a profound breakthrough. However, the summit talks and the adoption of the 15 June Declaration are not the end of the Korean question, but merely the beginning of a long and precarious journey toward peaceful co-existence and reunification. Despite remarkable progress in inter-Korean relations, an array of new and tough issues for future inter-Korean negotiations awaits. Some of the important items on the agenda can be summarized as follows: • • • • •

military issues: tension reduction, military confidence-building, arms control and reduction, and replacement of the armistice treaty by a new inter-Korean peace treaty; weapons of mass destruction and missile issues, including implementation of the Joint Declaration of De-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula; the return of kidnapped South Koreans, including fishermen and prisoners who were captured during the Korean War, as a reciprocal measure for the return of unconverted North Korean spies and pro-North Korean sympathizers; increasing the frequency and the number of people attending the reunions of separated family members, including the location of missing families and exchanges of letters; terms of economic exchanges and cooperation, including institutional changes in the direction of opening and reform.

None of these issues is likely to be easy, not only because of the backlash effects on vital interests of the North Korean regime and state but also because of inherent differences between the two Koreas’ priorities. For example, South Korea has always wanted to include tension reduction and military confidence-building measures on the agenda of inter-ministerial talks, but the North has been evasive on these issues. Although the second round of ministerial talks produced a joint statement urging tension reduction and activation of inter-Korean military talks, the North has been rather reluctant to discuss these issues. The situation may become much more complicated if North and South Korea begin to deliberate on

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arms control, limitation, and reduction. It is not easy to realign and reduce the combined forces of nearly 1.8 million soldiers and their related weapons’ systems since such moves can severely undercut the institutional interests of the military in both North and South Korea.30 Moreover, even though Chairman Kim recognizes the American forces in the South as being a fait accompli, actual inter-Korean arms control negotiation is bound to touch on their status. Transforming the armistice treaty into an inter-Korean peace treaty system will pose more complex and daunting challenges. South Korea is not a legal party to the armistice treaty since it refused to sign the treaty in 1953. Only North Korea, the United States, and China are de jure parties to the treaty, in which the United States was merely representing the United Nations Command.31 Thus, dismantling the armistice treaty involves complex legal processes, which would be difficult for North and South Korea to resolve through the principle of selfdetermination. As President Kim Dae-jung suggested in his recent meeting with Jiang Zemin at the United Nations, the transformation of the inter-Korean peace treaty should be resolved in a forum other than bilateral negotiations. The fourparty talks must be a more desirable venue in this regard. Moreover, South Korea’s efforts to conclude an inter-Korean peace treaty can also contradict North Korea’s efforts to sign a peace treaty with the United States ahead of the dismantling of the armistice treaty.32 Likewise, inter-Korean peace-building is a much more complicated task than is usually recognized. Inter-Korean negotiations are not likely to adopt agenda issues pertaining to weapons of mass destruction and missiles. The United States will remain the principal partner for dialogue and negotiation over these issues, while retaining the close trilateral policy coordination with Japan and South Korea. However, South Korea would be placed in a difficult position if the North should re-use both nuclear and missile issues as cards for its brinkmanship diplomacy. In order to avoid such a contingency, South Korea is obliged to engage in negotiations with the North over the nuclear and missile issues. Given Chairman Kim’s responses during the summit talks, however, it will be quite difficult for the South to persuade the North to comply with both the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Social exchanges and cooperation can be expedited, leading to the situation of de facto unification that the Kim Dae-jung government anticipates. Even in this area, however, major obstacles can emerge. The return of South Koreans who were kidnapped or who are prisoners of war has become a major political issue in the South, and the Kim Dae-jung government is under heavy political and social pressures. But the North has been relatively insensitive to these issues since it believes that they cannot legitimately be placed on the agenda for negotiation. For the North, there are no kidnapped South Koreans as these are people who embraced the North of their own free will. Also, for the North, the issue of prisoners of war was resolved through the official exchanges in 1953. To increase the frequency and the size of the reunions of members of separated families might not be easy either. As expanded personnel exchanges can pose major threats to


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regime security in the North, Pyongyang will try to impose maximum control over the size and modes of reunion of separated families. Contrary to public expectations, reaching viable agreements on the modes and the nature of economic cooperation and exchanges might be as difficult as military issues. The 15 June Joint Declaration has set the lofty goal of achieving balanced development of the national economy through economic exchanges and cooperation. But this goal cannot be realized unless North Korea undergoes farreaching opening and structural reforms. Tactical and cosmetic changes, as shown in the case of the Rajin-Sonbong area, cannot induce private investments from the South. In the brave new world of the post-IMF crisis era, private firms, including chaebol, cannot commit themselves to North Korea without the corresponding profit motives. Hyundai is the exception rather than the rule. South Korean officials are thus mandated to persuade their North Korean counterparts to undertake major institutional reforms. Prevention of double taxation, investment guarantees, the formalization of payment clearance, and the mechanism of dispute resolution are important, but they alone cannot attract South Korea’s private money. There should be deeper and wider reforms in the direction of a market economy, with firm institutional guarantees of private properties; otherwise, the South Korean government cannot persuade its firms to invest in the North. A lack of openings and reforms in the North could also easily put the South Korean government in a difficult position, for public opinion will oppose the government’s economic cooperation with the North under such circumstances. Apart from institutional changes, the amount and the terms of economic cooperation with the North will likely be another major problem. Given the overall signals from the North, it appears that the North is anticipating major support from the South. But the existing fiscal burden, new fiscal demands associated with banking and financial reforms and productive welfare initiatives, and conservative opposition to massive economic cooperation with the North will make it difficult for the South to engage in megaprojects with the North. A mismatch of interests between the two Koreas could pose major hurdles to interKorean negotiations. A rocky road is ahead for inter-Korean relations. What then are the opportunities and constraints underlying inter-Korean relations? The most important variable is the North Korean factor. Chairman Kim’s continuing commitment to improving inter-Korean relations and consolidation of his political power over the party, the military, the state, and society are the most essential prerequisites for smooth inter-Korean relations. The failure to tame military grievances as well as to control party cadres and state bureaucrats could derail the entire enterprise of inter-Korean relations, and it will eventually endanger Chairman Kim’s own regime. In connection with this, one major concern arises concerning the command and control structure of the North Korean military. Chairman Kim’s control over the military is reinforced through his control over, and manipulation of, the general political bureau because the latter dictates to the commanding officers of the people’s army. The summit talks proved that Chairman Kim is in firm control of the general political bureau, and it is hard to find concrete evidence of whether

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the general political bureau commands and controls those officers in commanding posts. In reality, war by default is usually an act of commanding officers, not of political commissars. Although there is no doubt about Kim Jong-il’s paramount leadership, unpredictable events embedded in the institutional structure of North Korean society could ruin the process of inter-Korean improvements. South Korea is not without its own problems. Despite the remarkable success of the inter-Korean summit, public reaction to the 15 June Declaration has been somewhat mixed. Conservative critics have raised several issues. First, the declaration failed to address issues on tension reduction and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula. Second, the first item of the declaration, on agents of Korean unification, and the second item of the declaration, on modes of unification, reflect North Korea’s agenda, not that of the South. President Kim must have accommodated North Korean demands without caution. Such accommodation has created a new confusion in which discourses on unification have overwhelmed those on tension reduction and peace-building. Third, the unconditional return of those North Korean sympathizers who refused to accept South Korean authority is too generous. Their return should be linked to that of South Korean fishermen who were kidnapped and prisoners who were captured during the Korean War, and who are still held in the North. Fourth, the other items are not new; previous agreements, such as the 4 July Joint Communiqué and the Basic Agreement, had already addressed these issues. Finally, the summit meeting and the joint declaration went too far and too fast by precipitating ideological chaos and jeopardizing national security in the South. The triumphant mood following the summit has pacified domestic opposition for the time being, forging a rather contrived national consensus. As enthusiasm recedes, opposition and fury are beginning to rise. While the opposition Grand National Party is highly critical of Kim Dae-jung’s venture with the North, the conservatives have struck back with cynicism. Despite the overall high approval rate of the summit meeting, popular support has been divided by regional lines. More critically, the leading mass media’s critique of Kim Daejung’s engagement policy has begun to undercut the political dividends gained from the summit. If inter-Korean arms control talks become visible, the military could emerge as another factor that could critically influence the process of interKorean negotiations. Such a fractured foundation of national consensus could easily dampen the prospects for inter-Korean relations. Finally, external factors can also influence the process and outcome of interKorean negotiations. Of the four major actors in the region, China has everything to gain from an inter-Korean rapprochement. Russia has become a rather residual actor, whereas Japan has been rather passive by displaying its interests within the Japan–US–South Korea trilateral policy coordination. The United States will continue to exert enormous influences on the future course of inter-Korean negotiations. As long as the United States resorts to the Perry process, inter-Korean relations can continue to improve smoothly. But if the United States abandons the Perry line and shifts to a hard-line position, the parameters governing inter-Korean relations could be radically reshaped. Containing the North and playing the Theater Missile Defense card are likely to undermine inter-Korean relations significantly.


Chung-in Moon

Conclusion The summit talks represent a stunning breakthrough in inter-Korean relations. The two Koreas have now entered a brave new world of reconciliation, exchanges, and cooperation. Although a de jure unification is still far away, peaceful coexistence and de facto unification appear to be near. By most accounts, the summit talks were a dazzling success, and the summit has shown that North Korea is not an eccentric rogue state to be contained, but a normal, calculating state that deserves political space for dialogue and negotiation. As noted in the above, however, there are numerous obstacles to peaceful coexistence and Korean reunification. The leadership in both Koreas should not only avoid the politicization of inter-Korean issues for domestic political purposes but also overcome domestic division and opposition. Improved inter-Korean relations cannot be envisaged without pacifying domestic forces and forging a viable national consensus. The international community should also bless and lend unprecedented support to tension reduction and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula. By escaping from the confining environment of balance of power determinism, the four major powers should also play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful co-existence and reunification. But it should be remembered that reunification cannot be achieved without first achieving peace. Once peace is realized, the door to reunification may not be far away. Keeping this in mind, both Koreas should make every effort to turn specters of war into rays of peace and to transform division into reunification with patience, prudence, and common understanding.

Notes * 1


3 4 5

An earlier version of this chapter was published under the same title in East Asia Review, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Winter 2000), pp. 3–36. It is published here with the permission of East Asia Review, the Institute for East Asian Studies. This section draws partly on Chung-in Moon, “Understanding the DJ doctrine: The Sunshine Policy and the Korean Peninsula,” in Chung-in Moon and David Steinberg (eds) The Kim Dae-jung Government and Sunshine Policy, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 1999, pp. 36–40. The term “engagement (poyong)” fails to reflect the comprehensive picture of Kim’s North Korean policy. Poyong literally refers to accommodation or embracement, not engagement. The term “sunshine” comprises broader semantic implications such as engagement, embracement, and even harsh punishment, i.e. security. It was also relabeled as the DJ doctrine elsewhere. See my chapter in Moon and Steinberg (eds) op. cit. Nevertheless, here, the Sunshine Policy and the engagement policy are used interchangeably. For an overview of the Sunshine Policy, see Moon and Steinberg (eds) op. cit., and The Society for Northeast Asian Peace Studies (ed.) The Sunshine Policy, Seoul: Millennium Books, 1999. Kim Dae-jung, “Don’t take the sunshine away,” in Korea and Asia: A Collection of Essays, Speeches, and Discussions, Seoul: The Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation, 1994, p. 33. Office of the President, the Republic of Korea, Government of the People: Collected Speeches of President Kim Dae-jung, Seoul: ROK Government, 1999, pp. 63–64. See Soon-young Hong, “Thawing Korea’s Cold War: the path to peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Foreign Affairs, 1999, May/June, pp. 8–12; Dong-won Lim, “The

The Sunshine Policy and the Korean summit

6 7 8 9 10

11 12 13 14 15 16

17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28


Government of People’s North Korean Policy,” a speech delivered for senior officials of the Ministry of Unification, 1999, 9 February (in Korean, mimeograph); and Ministry of Unification, Policy Towards North Korea for Peace, Reconciliation, and Cooperation, Seoul: The Ministry of Unification, 1999. Office of the President, the Republic of Korea, op. cit., pp. 12, 64–65. See Dong-won Lim, “North Korean policy under the Kim Dae-jung government,” a speech delivered at a breakfast meeting with the National Reconciliation Council, 11 March 1999, p. 3. See Dong-won Lim, op. cit. President Kim Dae-jung reaffirmed this position in a recent interview with CNN. See Donga Ilbo, 7 May 1999, p. 2. The “Northwind (bukpung)” scandal refers to the South Korean intelligence agency’s covert operations that were designed to undermine Kim Dae-jung’s image by fabricating his ties with the North. Such operations were allegedly undertaken in cooperation with North Korean intelligence organizations. This section draws partly on Chung-in Moon “Between ideals and reality: an interim assessment of the Sunshine Policy,” Pyonghwa Ronchong, 2000, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 46–58. I compiled these five ideals from a collection of President Kim’s speeches. See Office of the President, The Republic of Korea, Government of the People: Selected Speeches of President Kim Dae-jung, vols 1 and 2, Seoul: ROK Government, 1999. Kim Dae-jung, The Korean Problem: Nuclear Crisis, Democracy, and Reunification, Seoul: The Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation, 1994, pp. 223–224. A speech made at the Ministry of Unification by Dong-won Lim, op. cit., p. 24. Kim Dae-jung, op. cit., pp. 224–226. Chung-in Moon and Kil-jeh Rhyu, “Bukhanchaejeui Byondonggwa Daebuk Kyungje Hyoryokui Jungchgyonggejok Jogon (Regime changes in North Korea and political economic conditions for economic cooperation with the North,” in Han-soo Yoo and Young-sun Lee (eds) Bukhan Jinchul Giup Jonryak (Corporate Strategies for North Korean Venture), Seoul: Orum, 1997, pp. 33–116. For the most recent work on the collapse thesis, see Nicholas Eberstadt, The End of North Korea, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1999. For a survey of opposing views, see Moon and Rhyu, op cit., and Moon and Steinberg, op. cit. The Ministry of Unification, “Two years of the Government of the People: achievements and assessments of North Korean policy” (mimeograph), pp. 29–31. See Leon Segal, Disarming Strangers, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996, and Leon Segal, “Think tanks and the development of options,” in Moon and Steinberg, op. cit., pp. 153–171. See President Kim’s 15 August 1999 Independence Day speech. See Chung-in Moon, Masao Okonogi, and Mitchell Reiss (eds) The Perry Report, The Missile Quagmire, and the North Korean Question, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, 2000. See Chung-in Moon, “Two days on the other side,” Time, 2000, 26 June, p. 23. The official text of the joint declaration translates jajoo as independence. But such a translation seems quite misleading. Self-reliance or self-initiating seems more appropriate. Doklip is the exact translation of independence. Jung-min Lee, “North Korea is willing to amend the by-law of the Korea Workers’ Party,” The Joongang Ilbo, 2000, 20 June, p. 1. Yonhap News Agency, Bukhan 50nyon, Seoul: Yonhap News Agency, 1995, pp. 483–487. Bukhanyonguso, Bukhanshinnyonsa Bunsok 1945–1995, Seoul: Bukhanyonguso, 1996, pp. 220–228. The literal transition of yonbang is federation. But North Koreans have translated yonbang as confederation, creating confusion between yonbang and yonhap



30 31 32

Chung-in Moon (confederation or union of states). In a sense, the joint declaration clarified the conceptual confusion. On Kim’s proposal, see Kim Dae-jung, Three Stages’ Approach to Unification, Seoul: The Kim Dae-jung Foundation (in Korean). On Roh’s proposal, see National Unification Board, Theoretical Foundation and Policy Directions of the Commonwealth Model of Unification, Seoul: National Unification Board, 1990 (in Korean). Chung-in Moon, Arms Control on the Korean Peninsula, Seoul: Yonsei University Press, Chapter 6. Sung-ho Je, “Building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula,” Kukga Jonryak (National Strategy), 1996, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 77–78 (in Korean). Chung-in Moon, “The Kim Dae-jung Government and peace-building on the Korean Peninsula,” Kukga Jonryak (National Strategy), 1999, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 139–170 (in Korean).

Part II

Possible futures and national perspectives


A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? Historical background, rationale, and prospects Alexandre Mansourov

Introduction Traditionally, Korea has been viewed as both a menace and an opportunity by all of the great powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Throughout history, Japan has perceived Korea either as “a dagger aimed at her heart” or as a convenient proximate invasion route and key to the resources-rich mainland Asia. China has often perceived Korea as a mountain-rigged natural buffer protecting its northeastern hinterland from possible invasions by maritime powers, describing its geostrategic relationship with a friendly Korea as being as close as “lips and teeth” (i.e. “when lips are gone, teeth get cold and hurt”) and viewing a hostile Korea as a “hammer hanging over the head of the Chinese dragon.” As for Russia, a friendly Korea offered a remotely controlled “umbrella” to protect its Far Eastern outposts from unwelcome storms in the international system in the region and readily available access to warm ports, whereas a hostile Korea was considered to be a jumping-off point for all those forces perceived as intent on mounting aggression against or undermining and curtailing the Russian power in the Far East. The United States has always seen Korea as a regional check and balance on ambitious aspirations of adjacent giants, never able to pose any direct threat to the US global interests but capable of upsetting the regional balance of power and spoiling the game if it fell into the wrong hands. Such an ambivalent but crucial geostrategic position of the Korean Peninsula, both posing threats and presenting opportunities for both ascending and descending great powers, has made Korea a constant object of contention among its more powerful neighbors that have been jockeying for influence, if not outright domination, in Korea for centuries. Whenever the Korean Peninsula has become an object of confrontation among neighboring great powers, or the expansionist aspirations of an ascending great power aiming to establish unconditional domination in Korea (preferably in the form of protectorate or even outright colonization) were thwarted by the other great powers seeking to maintain the status quo in the region, the great powers always tended to fall back on the idea of either dividing the peninsula into spheres of influence to secure their respective national interests or neutralizing it as a buffer zone against rival outside powers in order to preserve their own security. In turn, throughout the centuries, independent Korean states tried to promote their own territorial integrity and long-term security by pursuing one of the following


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foreign policy strategies: (1) traditional isolation, (2) various forms and degrees of alignment with one or two major land and/or maritime powers, and (3) neutralization. These are the three basic conceptual options available to the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today, too, if it wants to protect its security and survive as a viable independent geopolitical entity in the long run. In this chapter, first, I shall present a brief historical overview of discussions involving the idea of neutrality in traditional Korean political discourse. Second, I shall analyze a possible rationale for the neutralization of the DPRK and assess whether or not neutrality may be a desirable foreign policy option for the North Korean state. Third, I shall investigate the feasibility of neutralization of the DPRK, i.e. the prospects for achieving neutralization, given its current domestic political situation and external environment. Fourth, I shall explore the practicality and modalities of neutralization of the DPRK, i.e. what may need to be done for the DPRK to achieve a viable internationally recognized neutral status. In my analysis, I shall rely on my interviews with senior policy-makers and scholars from both Koreas and from countries adjacent to the Korean Peninsula, as well as on the available academic literature on the subject of neutrality in the international system in general and in the Korean context in particular.

The idea of neutrality in traditional Korean geopolitical discourse The idea of neutralization of Korea has never been part of the mainstream of political discourse in or around Korea. Notwithstanding their rather marginal role and the little practical impact on the geostrategic thinking of Korean rulers and their great power benefactors and foes, unofficial proposals aimed at guaranteeing the security of the Korean state by removing this pawn from the chessboard of adjacent great powers’ rivalries and establishing a permanent status of neutrality for Korea were numerous and date back more than four centuries. The idea of neutrality often used to be revived and explored at times of tectonic changes in the geopolitical landscape around the Korean Peninsula, which tended to affect directly the existing foreign alignments, security and very survival of the Korean state. The usual pattern of Korean foreign policy was close alignment with one or two of the adjacent land or maritime great powers. Therefore, any proposals aimed at achieving a neutral status for Korea, ad hoc or permanent, were usually advanced by those adjacent great powers that were intent on changing the regional status quo and considered neutrality as being one of the first steps that would possibly lead to dealignment. Hence, such ideas were viewed with suspicion by those adjacent great powers that were already closely aligned with Korea and that were eager to maintain the status quo in Northeast Asia. As a rule, at the beginning of their expansion, ascending regional great powers preferred some sort of neutralization of the Korean Peninsula, tantamount to its extrication from its existing alliances, to be followed by some form of its close alignment, if not

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 51 outright absorption or protectorate, with an expansionist power. In contrast, their descending regional rivals tended to defend a regional status quo, i.e. their close alignment with Korea, as long as they could; and, if they still failed, only then did they express interest in some sort of neutralization of the Korean Peninsula as a way of preventing it from falling into the rival’s orbit of influence altogether. Korean history knows a number of striking examples of ad hoc neutrality proposals made by Koreans themselves or their great power neighbors in order to keep the peninsular Korea out of the developing conflict between land and maritime powers. In the late sixteenth century (1592–1598), Japan embarked on the invasion of the Korean Peninsula en route to conquering China. The Korean king Sônjo appealed to the Ming Court, its long-time ally and protector, for military aid. Soon, China dispatched a 50,000-men-strong military relief army to thwart the Japanese invasion of Korea, and the war reached stalemate. Truce talks ensued, during which the Japanese ruler Toyotomi Hideyoshi demanded, among many other things, the establishment of some sort of a buffer zone, or a neutral state, between China and Japan. But what he really had in mind was the surrender of four southern provinces of Korea to Japan as a condition for peace. The implementation of these demands could have meant the dealignment of the Yi Korea from the Ming China, to be followed by some temporary neutral status for Korea and its subsequent realignment with Japan. Hideyoshi (1536–1598) did not live long enough to finish his Korean campaign; and, subsequently, after he died, the Chinese and Korean standing armies, guerrilla forces, and Admiral Yi Sun-sin’s “turtle ship” fleet pushed the invading Japanese armies out of the peninsula. Consequently, the Japanese demands presented at the peace talks were rejected by both the Ming and Yi courts. The rise of the “barbarian” Jurchen Manchus in the northwest and the intensifying struggle for the control of the Chinese Middle Kingdom against the Ming created a new perilous situation for the state of Chosôn, which had a tributary relationship with the Ming. The Korean king Kwanghaegun (1608–1623) found himself torn between his traditional loyalty and subordination to the Ming, who wanted him to send a Korean army to Manchuria to strike at the Manchu state of Later Chin from the southeast, and political realism that demanded some form of accommodation with the more powerful Manchus. Being an astute realpolitik thinker, Kwanghaegun officially dispatched General Kang Hong-nip at the head of a force of about 10,000 troops, but he also secretly ordered the general to assume a wait-and-see posture near the battlefield and, preferably, not to participate in military battles. In the meantime, the king spared no effort to enhance his country’s military preparedness by repairing defensive fortifications, modernizing weaponry, and launching new military training programs.1 In other words – in modern terms – facing a military challenge outside his own territory and unable and unwilling to fight, Kwanghaegun decided to pursue a cautious policy of ad hoc armed neutrality. This neutral stance bore fruits, and neither the Ming nor the Manchus took any punitive action against Korea at that time.2 Proposals regarding the neutralization of Korea mushroomed during the trying time of the opening of the traditionally isolated Korea in the last quarter of the


Alexandre Mansourov

nineteenth century, when great powers attempted to force Korea to open to foreign trade and international exchanges, thus presenting Korean rulers with the twin challenges of dealing with “enlightenment” and defending the independence of the Korean state. After the conclusion of the first unequal Korean–Japanese Treaty of Kanghwa (1876), the question of how to modernize Korea while preserving its independence deeply divided the Korean political establishment: conflicts escalated between the enlightenment forces and the Confucian literati “defending orthodoxy and rejecting heterodoxy,” between the Taewôngun’s clan and Queen Min’s clan, between the pro-Chinese, pro-Japanese, and, later, pro-Russian court officials and scholars. The concomitant Sino-Japanese rivalry for control over the Korean Peninsula became the major factor affecting Korean domestic and foreign policies. Major domestic political upheavals followed, including the Taewôngun-inspired military mutiny of 1882 (imo kullan), the pro-Japanese coup d’etat of 1884 (kapsin chôngbyôn), the uprising of the Tonghak peasant army, the controversial social and administrative reforms of 1894 that were modeled on Japan (kabo kyôngjang), and the assassination of Queen Min (1895). These bloody domestic upheavals served to discredit and weaken the Korean government domestically and provided the outside powers with justification for openly meddling in Korea’s internal affairs. Against the background of escalating Sino-Japanese confrontation that led to Japan’s gradual ascendancy in and China’s reluctant retreat from Korea, initially formalized in the Treaty of Kanghwa (1876),3 advanced in the Treaty of Tientsin (1885),4 and finalized in the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895),5 some proponents of enlightenment in Korea turned their attention to the idea of removing Korea from the aggravating power play of these great powers by way of its neutralization. Despite its perilous geopolitical situation and inability to defend itself, Korea was not ready for permanent neutralization. Therefore, when, in early 1885, the German vice-consul Hermann Budler proposed a plan for Korean neutralization and argued that Korea could be safeguarded from the destruction of war by being placed in a state of perpetual neutrality, such as that of Switzerland instituted by the Congress of Vienna in 1815,6 the Korean king Kojong, a rather weak and dependent personality, rejected his proposal as “wishful thinking,” under pressure from both the pro-Japanese and pro-Chinese factions. On the other hand, the idea of removing foreign troops from Korean soil and strengthening Korean armed forces to make them strong enough for self-defense – rumored7 to have been proposed by Kim Ok-kyun (1851–1894), a progressive movement leader and architect of the proJapanese 1884 coup, to Chinese leader Li Hung-chang while the latter was negotiating with Ito Hirobuni in the spring of 1885 – was included in the SinoJapanese Treaty of Tientsin. In some senses, this clause may have been construed as the first internationally recognized step towards Korean armed neutrality. Regretfully, this opportunity was lost in the subsequent aggravation of SinoJapanese conflict in Korea. Furthermore, at the end of 1885, Yu Kil-chun (1856–1914), a progressive thinker and influential modernizer during the 1880s, who traveled extensively around Japan, America, and Europe, proposed permanent neutrality for Korea in his landmark essay entitled “On neutrality” (Chungnip-non). He stated that “No nation

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 53 is free of security concerns, immediate or distant. In international affairs, small measures, at times, can lead to big successes… Under the present circumstances, the only way to make our country secure is to neutralize it.”8 In Yu’s judgment, the centuries-old suzerain–vassal relationship between Korea and China could no longer guarantee the independence of Korea, because of imperial China’s growing weakness relative to the rising might and aggressive aspirations of rapidly modernizing and outward-looking Japan and expansionist Russia. He was convinced that, entering the era of independent foreign policy after the Kanghwa Treaty, Korea needed a new security arrangement with a credible international guarantee, modeled after the Belgian or Bulgarian neutrality9 established in the late nineteenth century. In his opinion, such neutralization, if executed properly and accepted by all adjacent great powers, could have become a milestone in Korea’s diplomatic history and ensured the long-term security and survival of the Korean state.10 However, both the Korean court officials and the literati ignored Yu’s neutrality recommendation and advocated Korea’s continuous alignment with and dependency on a neighboring great power (first China, then Russia, and then Japan) for its national security. The question of neutralization of Korea as a way of bringing back stability and peace to the Korean Peninsula arose again a decade later when the Sino-Japanese conflict over the issue of political control in Korea edged toward war in 1894. The British government recommended that the Korean Peninsula be divided between China and Japan, with “South Korea” going to Japan and “North Korea” remaining in Chinese hands. When both states rejected this recommendation, London proposed to neutralize the peninsula. China, which had lost most of its influence in Korea by that time and should have preferred a neutralized Korea as a better alternative to a hostile Korea that was controlled and manipulated by expansionist Japan, opted to fight it out on the battlefield and was defeated. Consequently, with the conclusion of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, another opportunity to institute neutralization of Korea was lost in 1895.11 The rise of the Japanese influence in Korea, following the Chinese withdrawal in 1895, threatened Russian interests and led to the escalation of Russian–Japanese tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It was then that the Korean political establishment began to show some real interest in the idea of some sort of neutral status for Korea which could allow it to escape occupation by a foreign power and guarantee its independence. From 1900 to 1903, King Kojong dispatched several high-ranking court officials as his personal envoys to the Japanese Imperial Court to petition Japan not to use Korean soil for the transportation of its troops in the event of war with Russia, and to convince the government of Japan of its own interest in having Korea neutralized in concord with other regional great powers. In 1900, Konoe Atsumaro, a prominent Japanese statesman, told the visiting Korean Ambassador Cho Byông-sik, who pleaded that Korea be left alone and neutralized, that Korea was not yet qualified to become a neutral state. In 1903, Konoe again rejected the neutralization appeal by another visiting Korean emissary, because he saw no advantage for Japan in having Korea become neutral at that time (since a neutral Korea would be an obstacle to Japan fulfilling its ambitious plans of becoming an imperial continental power in Asia).12


Alexandre Mansourov

It is interesting to note that, during the course of the Russo-Japanese negotiations that were aimed at averting war over Korea in 1903, the Russian government suggested that Korea be divided along the 38th Parallel into the Russian sphere of influence north of the Parallel and the Japanese sphere of influence south off the Parallel; but Japan rejected this proposal, not because of the concern for the territorial integrity of its neighbor but because it wanted the entire Korean prize for itself. When negotiations resumed in the summer of that year, Russia, yielding to Japanese pressure, made further concessions in Korea and, among other things, proposed that a neutral zone be established in the Korean territory north of the 39th Parallel in which no stationing of foreign troops could be permitted. But Japan turned down that proposal, too, and soon declared war on Russia, accusing it of imperiling Korean independence.13 In January 1904, the Korean government, for the first time, really took the initiative in its own hands and announced its neutrality in the Russo-Japanese war. However, it did not have the military capabilities necessary for self-defense, and, hence, failed to resist the Japanese invasion that resulted in the Inch’ôn landing and occupation of Seoul by the Japanese army on 4 February 1904. It goes without saying that Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910 ended the latter’s independent foreign policy and the stillborn efforts by its political elite to have Korea neutralized. Finally, one should mention that during the 1910s to 1920s, Dr Syngman Rhee, the future founder and first President of the Republic of Korea (ROK), while studying at Princeton University in the United States, advocated the idea of permanent Korean neutrality under the international guarantees of great powers, following a certain period of US trusteeship that was aimed at re-establishing Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule.14 But, as soon as he assumed power in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula in 1945, he quickly abandoned his earlier ideas on the neutralization of Korea. In sum, history seems to be telling an impartial observer of the Korean scene the following. First, whenever the regional status quo is upset and the balance of power in Northeast Asia begins to shift, all regional great powers tend to turn their attention instinctively to the Korean Peninsula and emphasize its significance as either a lucrative opportunity for, or a prominent threat to, their national interests. They tend to advocate unilateral alignment with Korea as their first preference, division of the Korean Peninsula into spheres of influence as their second preference, neutral status for Korea as their third preference, and to acquiesce to Korea’s falling into the orbit of a hostile great power as their least desirable alternative. Consequently, for centuries, neutralization of Korea has consistently had a relatively low ranking among the preferred foreign policy strategies of the adjacent great powers toward the peninsula. Therefore, there is a historical bias against the institution of neutrality in Korea at present, too. Second, whenever domestic social and political instability escalates and Korean political establishment becomes embroiled in harsh disputes over fundamental domestic and foreign policy issues, such as modernization and foreign alignments, and fractionated into warring clans vying for power, political upheavals or gridlock tend to ensue. Consequently, no meaningful changes in the course of Korean foreign

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 55 policy could be expected in the short-term, despite increasing meddling into Korean internal affairs by outside great powers. Third, any neutralization proposal seems to have a reasonable chance of success only if (1) it is introduced by Koreans themselves, and not imposed on them by any bullish neighbor or a concert of Northeast Asia; (2) there is a consensus among all great powers concerned that a neutral Korea would suit their national interests one way or another, and that such a proposal must be strongly backed and internationally sponsored by an ascending great power with a growing stake in the peninsula and not by a declining great power that is retreating from Korea under pressure from the others; and (3) Korea should have a status of armed neutrality so that it would possess sufficient military capabilities to defend itself from any form of military provocation or harassment by any opportunistic great power that might be tempted to ignore the international guarantees of Korean independence and armed neutrality in yet another expansionist drive.

Rationale for the neutralization of the DPRK (desirability) Survival is the name of the game in the DPRK today. Domestically, facing a prolonged economic depression – caused by being cut off from decades-long foreign economic subsidies from the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), deeply rooted structural economic imbalances, poor economic management and administration, and a series of recent natural disasters – and confronting growing popular disillusionment and apathy, the North Korean regime has to “enlighten” its orthodox ideology of Juch’e and turn to economic liberalization as a strategy of economic survival in the cruel world of surrounding market capitalism that knows no mercy to maladepts. Internationally and unceremoniously abandoned by its former principal ally and benefactor, Russia, and largely ignored and held at bay by its other principal ally and protector, China, while still facing a united, albeit revealing some cracks, coalition of its traditional enemies – the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan, with which it does not even have a formal peace treaty – the North Korean state, which can no longer afford the isolationist policy of the old days for domestic economic reasons, has to strive hard to break out of its international isolation, to bargain tough for all the breaks and benefits it can get from the international community without falling into the trap of the South-led unilateral absorption, and to avoid sacrificing its security and political independence in the process. It is this solomonian dilemma of promoting “enlightened” economic liberalization and, simultaneously, maintaining national security and independence that faces the entire leadership of the DPRK, headed by Marshal Kim Jong-il, and that must be shaping the day-today policy-making agenda in Pyongyang. A neutral foreign policy seems to have some potential in terms of offering a desirable solution to this equation during this trying time when the North Korean state is significantly weakened both domestically and internationally. It is worth recalling Yu Kil Chun’s advice that “it is no use for a state to pretend that it is stronger than it really is,”15 because nobody will believe it for long anyway or


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other states may challenge it and apply excessive force against a bluffing state. The DPRK can no longer count on the assistance of its former allies for its security, economic, and even humanitarian needs. Nor can it switch “camps” overnight and rely on the grudging charity, or trust fully the newly found benevolence, of its foes, not to mention to ground its hopes for domestic economic recovery and national security planning in the occasional displays of good will and temporary lack of belligerence on the part of its enemies. But what its leaders can do in order to enhance its chances of independent survival and modernization in this transitional period is to proclaim armed neutrality and surround the North Korean state with an outer wall of international guarantees legitimizing and backing its neutral status. The North Korean foreign policy is in transition at this juncture. Neither revitalization of the lopsided Cold War alliances nor realignment with the West seem to be possible or feasible policy alternatives for the DPRK, primarily because the great powers concerned are not interested in pursuing either one. Continuous isolation should be ruled out both on economic grounds (modernization will require foreign exchange, capital, and technology) and because the hermit kingdom is usually perceived as a menace by its neighbors, who will always be tempted to crack it open in order to eliminate their perceived threat or to serve their other selfish national interests. Going neutral, albeit extremely controversial and difficult to achieve, appears to be a policy alternative palatable to all sides concerned. The neutral status, if instituted in a concerted manner and properly maintained, could, first, soften the international image of the DPRK, which may encourage the other states to regard Pyongyang in a more favorable light, i.e. to make it look more peaceful, cooperative, and amicable. Second, it may enhance the chances for survival of the North Korean state by legally impeding the way for the South-led unification by forced absorption. Third, it may enhance the now fragile national security and so much cherished independence of the DPRK if all the great powers concerned commit themselves to safeguarding North Korea’s neutrality and maintaining symmetric relationships with it, thus balancing against one another and thwarting any possibility for the DPRK to fall into a dependent relationship with any one of them. Fourth, internationally recognized and credible neutralization of North Korea should suffice to warrant the country’s gradual removal from various “black lists” maintained by industrialized nations, which should be instrumental in its greater participation in various international economic and financial organizations and in attracting foreign investments into this slowly reforming communist country, which, in turn, should help further structural adjustment and liberalization of the DPRK’s economy. Fifth, a declaration of neutrality by the North could be the first step along the road of neutralization of the entire Korean Peninsula in future, either in the form of a unified neutral Korean state or in the form of two neutral Korean states. Finally, the ongoing dealignment and gradual adaptation of the DPRK’s foreign policy to new realities can proceed smoothly only as long as its ruling class is able to maintain domestic political consensus with regard to its underlying motives and goals, shaped by the leaders’ values and psychological

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 57 perceptions of the world around them, and its limits, fixed by historical legacy, geopolitical realities, and internal politics. Growing neutrality in foreign policy seems to be the kind of middle ground where competing political interests in Pyongyang may find it safe and advantageous for themselves to coalesce during this transition from the orthodox Kim Il-sungian-style socialism to a nobody-yetknows-what kind of political and economic system.

Prospects for neutralization of the North (feasibility) Many opinion leaders and policy-makers in the West and in the East believe that neutralization of Korea is wishful thinking: few political actors in the region are said to really desire it, it is assumed to be hardly possible to achieve, and, even if instituted, it is prejudged as not going to work anyway; hence, it is doomed to fail, as happened with the unilaterally declared armed neutrality of Belgium in 1914 or with the neutralization of Laos imposed on its warring factions by the great powers concerned in 1962. They derive their pessimism regarding the prospects for North Korea’s becoming neutral from the following considerations. First of all, many believe that, in the post-Cold War world in general, the institution of neutrality is becoming “outdated and wrong-headed”: in an increasingly complex and volatile multipolar international system, no longer divided by irreconcilable ideologies and more infested with internecine domestic civil wars than interstate armed conflicts, enlarging collective security arrangements appear to be again undermining the rationale, morality, efficacy, and viability of neutrality to such an extent that even traditionally neutral states such as Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland seem to be intent on relaxing their strict neutrality stances and inclined to join various international security organizations. To this argument, one could respond that there are no collective security arrangements in Northeast Asia that are similar in credibility, role and scope to those in Europe, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or even the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), that could offer some kind of credible security assurances to their member states. Therefore, the basic policy of neutrality, i.e. non-participation in wars and equidistance from all the states involved, including non-participation in military alliances and no stationing of foreign troops on one’s soil, still appears to be a more reasonable, albeit not necessarily the best or the only, security alternative for the DPRK rather than lopsided dependence for protection on the whims of one particular great power or another. For North Korea, the choice is not between neutrality and collective security, as the European neutrals are faced with at present. Pyongyang has to choose between armed neutrality and lopsided security dependence. Since its leaders cherish the ideal of political independence so much, it would make sense for them to consider seriously the neutrality option in their foreign policy. Second, pessimists argue that neutralization of Korea is unfeasible because its great power neighbors have shown little or no interest in it so far. They like to say that, as history has persuasively demonstrated time and again, Korea is too


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important geopolitically to be left alone to decide its own destiny. Adjacent great powers have always viewed Korea as a mere pawn on their power chessboard whose fate in the final analysis has to be determined by outside forces and will have to correspond to the interests of surrounding nations. At the same time, they always seem to prefer pursuing the old Roman maxim of “dividé et impera” in Korea and balk at the idea of removing the Korean Peninsula as the object of their international competition once and for all through its permanent neutralization, as in the case of Switzerland in 1815. In particular, the United States strongly supports its bilateral security arrangements with the ROK, including its direct military presence in the South, and is unlikely to amend its posture simply because of the North’s unilateral neutrality declaration. Moreover, some contend that in the long run, following Korean reunification, for geopolitical reasons of a global nature, Washington might well favor the extension of its collective security arrangements to the North, rather than neutralization of the entire peninsula or either one of its parts. In turn, obviously, as long as foreign troops are present in the South with the mission of confronting the North, it would be extremely difficult for Pyongyang to contemplate any kind of neutral policy. Despite the fact that recently it has apparently become nothing more than a fig leaf covering up the shallow relationship and deepening enmity and mutual mistrust between the two countries, China still clings to its alliance treaty with the North, because it legitimizes its stake in North Korea’s future and fuels the widely held perception that China still has a powerful influence on leaders and events in Pyongyang. As long as the current political leadership groups remain in power, in both Pyongyang and Beijing, they are unlikely to ask one another to renegotiate the current text of the treaty. In turn, as long as the 1961 Military Alliance Treaty remains in force, any talk about the North becoming neutral will lack any credibility and remain just that – mere talk. Although Japan might be predisposed to support neutralization of the DPRK as a step aimed at enhancing the independent survival of the North Korean state, which appears to be in the Japanese self-interest, it does not seem to have any autonomous long-term comprehensive strategy toward the North (or it may be the best kept secret in Tokyo). Its current stop-and-go policy is too erratic and timid because its policy-makers are afraid of upsetting the South and are reluctant to get ahead of the United States in orchestrating their rapprochement with Pyongyang. As a result, one should not expect any official government initiative from Japan regarding the North Korean exploration of the idea of neutrality. In order to restore its past influence in the peninsula, Russia, coming out of the period of “democratic infantilism” in its foreign policy and frustrated at the “ungrateful” South, seems to be trying to ingratiate itself with Pyongyang, with the aim of bringing it back into its own sphere of influence to be rebuilt. If this trend prevails, Russia may become very reluctant to let the North become neutral. In sum, the idea of a neutral North Korea is going to be difficult for Pyongyang to sell to its great power neighbors. Third, pessimists of Korean neutrality often argue that there have always been competing factions within the Korean leadership, including the DPRK’s leadership,

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 59 advocating an allied or dependent relationship with this or that land or maritime great power. For instance, nowadays some party and government officials in the DPRK may advocate continuous reliance on China during its ongoing trials and tribulations; others may insist on the need to restore mutually beneficial exchanges with Russia in order to save the economy from total collapse; while still others may promote the idea of a further rapprochement with the United States and Japan. In other words, in Pyongyang there are plenty of old and new vested interests advocating various traditional and innovative lopsided dependency relationships, but there seem to be no advocates of the policy of armed neutrality that is in general no less capable of enhancing national security and political independence than any other security relationship with the outside world. However, one may argue that the idea of neutrality is not novel or alien to the North Korean strategic thinking. In the late 1970s, the Great Leader Kim Il-sung envisioned a neutral foreign policy for a unified Korean state. In October 1980, addressing the Sixth Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), Kim Ilsung stated “the Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo (DCRK) should be a neutral country which does not participate in any political–military alliance or bloc. Since the two parts of the country, north and south, with different ideas and social systems are to be united into a single confederal state, it is necessary and most reasonable in reality for the DCRK to be a neutral state [emphasis added].”16 He went on to say that “the DCRK should adhere to the line of neutrality, follow the policy of non-alignment and develop friendly relations with all nations on the principles of independence, non-interference in internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. In particular, it should actively develop good neighborly relations with adjacent countries [emphasis added].”17 As a way to make neutralization of Korea credible and internationally respected, Kim Il-sung made the following dramatic proposal, which is generally expected from all neutral states: “the DCRK should repeal all treaties and agreements with other countries detrimental to national amity, including military treaties concluded separately by the north and the south prior to reunification [emphasis added].”18 Arguably, if Kim Il-sung was prepared to accept neutralization of a reunified Korea, he must have given considerable thought to the idea of neutral North Korea (as a step towards achieving his goal of establishing the DCRK) and must have come out on the positive side of this issue. Since the above-cited Kim Il-sung’s formula for the DCRK presented in 1980 still remains the official DPRK’s program for Korean reunification, one may assume that the North Korean government has not ruled out a neutral foreign policy option yet. Furthermore, if the idea of North Korean neutrality is part of the Great Leader’s legacy, then the question is: “What are those who have assumed the responsibility for interpreting and carrying forward his legacy going to do with this part of Kim Il-sung’s will?” They can either ignore it out of fear of appearing unorthodox or they can boldly use it to boost their own political legitimacy by claiming that advocacy of a neutral foreign policy line, no matter how reformist it may seem, is indeed a way to implement the Great Leader’s vision for a reunified Korea. In either case, it is domestic politics, not external commitments, that is likely to determine the North Korean leadership’s attitudes toward the idea of neutrality at this time.


Alexandre Mansourov

In sum, the mainstream opinion has always been that neutralization of North Korea is hardly possible or feasible because there will always be powerful international and domestic interests standing in the way, and, therefore, the idea of Korean neutrality is “unworkable.” But it does not mean that it is not worth exploring or laying analytical groundwork for future policy-making deliberations. For what seems to be irrational, unachievable and “outmoded” or “ahead of its time” today may turn out to be reasonable, practically achievable and just right tomorrow, especially given the perennial nature of the Korean conflict and futility of all previous attempts to resolve the situation.

What needs to be done to achieve neutralization of North Korea (practicality) There is no one “how to do” manual describing the most efficient and sure way of achieving a neutral status by a state long embroiled in international power plays. Each case of neutralization is unique and cannot be replicated. The DPRK will have to figure out its own way toward a neutrality solution for its security problems, if it ever becomes genuinely interested in it. Over 100 years ago, bearing in mind the traditional suzerain–vassal relationship that had existed between Korea and China for centuries, Yu Kil Chun advised proceeding with neutralizing Korea as follows: “We, alone, cannot initiate this neutralization. We must ask China to help us achieve it. If China, for some reason, does not agree with us, we should keep asking until she does. It is essential to let China be the chief organizer of an international convention for Korean neutrality, so that she can invite all the nations which have major interest in Asia, such as Great Britain, France, Japan and Russia, in order to achieve a collective agreement on Korean neutrality between them and us.”19 Obviously, since the late nineteenth century the geopolitical equation has changed in Northeast Asia. Korea is divided into two states vying for domination on the entire peninsula, with the balance of power clearly having shifted in favor of the South during the past two decades. DPRK–PRC relations are not as friendly, intimate, patriarchal, and asymmetrical as traditional Korean–Chinese ties used to be, even though the two countries still maintain their military alliance and a dwindling volume of trade. Hence, at present, the DPRK is unlikely to ask China, nor is China likely to agree, to lead the international drive for neutralization of North Korea. Great Britain and France are no longer major players in the region. For various reasons, Japan and Russia temporarily find themselves on the sidelines of the growing North Korean engagement with the outside world. The United States together with the ROK, its military ally and local economic powerhouse, have come to play a dominant role in maintaining peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and furthering constructive changes in the DPRK’s domestic policies and foreign policy behavior. In other words, at the end of the twentieth century, when everything that could go wrong for the DPRK seems to have gone wrong, while its remaining friends are talking at best about “managing a soft landing for the North” and its enemies are eager to “negotiate the terms of surrender with the

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 61 North,” Pyongyang has to engage the world all alone in a cautious but pragmatic manner and must bargain hard for the terms of its long-term survival with those forces that may or may not wish it well. For any state, declaration of permanent armed neutrality is a dramatic change in its foreign policy, fraught with tremendous international implications, and a big deal domestically. The DPRK is no exception. Neutralization of North Korea cannot and will not happen overnight. It might succeed only over the long run by cementing its international credibility and acceptability in many years to come. But, as an old Korean adage says, even a 10,000-li (a Chinese unit of length) road starts with the first small step. Now, leaders in Pyongyang need (1) to indicate their interest in exploring the advantages and shortcomings of a neutrality status and solicit appropriate policy studies on the subject, then (2) to consider thoroughly whether or not a neutral foreign policy option is a desirable and acceptable alternative in terms of the survival of their regime and security and independence of the country as a whole, and (3) if the answer to (2) is “yes,” to make a strong political commitment to explain the DPRK’s neutralization to the public at home and pursue it in earnest on the international scene. If indeed the North Korean leaders decide to pursue a neutral foreign policy, then they should realize that for the time being the key to neutralization of North Korea lies not in Beijing or Moscow but in Washington. Only if the United States agrees to lead the international drive for Korean neutralization will there be any chance of success in the foreseeable future. The DPRK can put a proposal for its neutrality on the table of the four-party peace talks that are planned to be held between the DPRK, the ROK, the United States, and the PRC on the future status of armistice agreement and peace and security arrangements on the Korean Peninsula. The four-party peace talks, aimed at formally ending the Korean War and normalizing relations between and enhancing the security and independence of both Koreas and adjacent great powers, might allow the parties concerned to address the pressing issues of the peace treaty, mutual non-aggression and noninterference in domestic affairs, arms control (including nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile non-proliferation and conventional arms reductions) and stationing of foreign troops in Korea, the future of the 1961 DPRK–PRC treaty on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance, etc. The future peace treaty may include a North Korean declaration of neutrality that specifies all the appropriate international obligations and rights that will be entailed, as well as international guarantees by other participants in recognition of the DPRK’s neutral status. By affirming their support for such a Korean peace treaty, Japan and Russia, even if not invited to participate in the treaty’s signing ceremony, may still express their recognition and guarantees of Korean neutrality in separate government statements or in joint communiqués that they may sign with the United States, the PRC, or either one of Koreas. In other words, in order to neutralize North Korea, one does not have to convene a Congress of Northeast Asia,20 such as the Congress of Vienna in 1815 that neutralized Switzerland, nor to stage exclusive bilateral talks, for instance the US–DPRK talks, necessitating the acquiescence of all other important players,


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such as the Soviet–Austrian negotiations in Moscow in April 1954 (that resulted in the Austrian declaration of neutrality that was embodied in the joint Soviet– Austrian communiqué and reaffirmed in the Austrian State Treaty and unilateral US assurances of recognition of Austrian neutrality). North Korea could be neutralized in its own unique way. The proposed four-party peace talks appear to offer a rare opportunity to attempt to achieve this desirable, albeit extremely hard, goal.

Conclusion The quest for Korean neutrality has a long and unsuccessful history. Over the centuries, in as much as neutralization has appeared to be an attractive peaceful way of strengthening Korea’s security and independence, it has been elusive and hard to implement. Most of the neutrality proposals that originated from outside Korea were of an unofficial and exploratory nature and were stillborn from the beginning. Nonetheless, if the North Korean leaders themselves decide that it is in their best long-term interest to have their country neutralized and they gradually manage to persuade the United States to lead the international drive for the permanent neutralization of the DPRK, then the institution of permanent armed neutrality might have some chance of taking hold in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula and being recognized and accepted by adjacent great powers and the international community at large. Such development should not only increase the external chances of survival of the political regime in Pyongyang but also improve the geopolitical situation and enhance the security and independence of the North Korean state as a whole.

Notes 1 2



Lee Ki-baek, A New History of Korea, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984, p. 215. Later on, when his heir, King Injo (1623–1649), abandoned a policy of “neutral watchful waiting” in favor of a blatant pro-Ming anti-Manchu policy, the Manchus took this change as a serious affront and decided to eliminate the threat to the rear posed by Korea by invading the Korean Peninsula and punishing its rulers twice: in 1627 (the so-called chôngmyo horan) and in 1636 (the pyôngja horan). See Lee Kibaek, op. cit., p. 216. The Treaty of Kanghwa was signed by the Japanese Minister Kuroda and the Korean court official Sin Hôn in the aftermath of the so-called Unyó Incident in 1876, involving a deliberate violation of Korean coastal waters by a Japanese navy vessel, Unyó. The treaty proclaimed Korea as an autonomous nation possessing equal sovereign rights with Japan, stipulated that Korea would open three ports (Pusan, Wônsan, and Inch’ôn) for foreign vessels, permitted Japan to survey Korean coastal waters at will, and contained an extraterritoriality clause benefiting Japan. By proclaiming the autonomous status for Korea, the treaty for the first time challenged China’s claim to suzerainty over Korea and thereby opened the way for subsequent Japanese encroachments on Korean sovereignty without interference from China. See Lee Ki-baek, op. cit., pp. 268–269. The Treaty of Tientsin, signed by Li Hung Chang and Ito Hirobuni, a.k.a. the Li–Ito Convention, in April 1895, placed China and Japan on equal terms in Korea with

A neutral Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? 63


6 7 8 9

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

regard to military intervention and control over the Korean armed forces. It required that both China and Japan withdraw their troops from Korea and not dispatch their military instructors there, and encouraged Korea to maintain its own armed forces sufficient for self-defense. See Lee Ki-baek, op. cit., p. 280. The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed to formalize the Japanese victory in the SinoJapanese War of 1894–1895. In its first article, China acknowledged the full independence of Korea. However, Japan interpreted this clause not as a guarantee of Korea’s independence by China but as China’s repudiation of its own suzerainty over Korea and, consequently, as a green light for Japan to treat Korea as a subordinate state. See Lee Ki-baek, op. cit., pp. 289–290. See Lee Ki-baek, op. cit., pp. 281. Hwang In K., One Korea Via Permanent Neutrality: Peaceful Management of Korean Unification, Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Books, 1987, p. 58. Yu Kil-chun, “Chungnip non (On neutrality),” in Yu Kil-chun Chonsoe [The Collected Works of Yu Kil-chun, (1856–1914; 5 vols)], Seoul: Ilchogak, 1982, vol. 4, pp. 319– 328. Ironically, in the long run, neither Bulgarian neutrality/autonomy nor Belgian neutrality survived the determined efforts of their neighboring expansionist great powers to change the status quo in Europe in their favor; these were, respectively, Russia in 1908–1912 and Germany in 1914. Yu Kil-chun, op. cit., pp. 319–328. Hwang In K., op. cit., p. 58. Hwang In K., op. cit., p. 59. Lee Ki-baek, op. cit., p. 306. Ministry of Information, Thus Neutralized Unification is Impossible for Korea, Seoul: Ministry of Information, 1965, p. 47. Yu Kil Chun, op. cit., p. 322. Kim Il-sung, Report to the Sixth Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea to the Work of the Central Committee, Pyongyang: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1980, p. 71. Kim Il-sung, op. cit., p. 79. Kim Il-sung, op. cit., p. 79. Yu Kil-chun, op. cit., p. 327. A current Russian proposal concerning an international conference aimed at settling the Korean question envisions the invitation of all Northeast Asian states, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General to the negotiation table


US policy interests and the concept of North Korean neutrality James Clay Moltz

Introduction Discussions in the United States regarding the concept of neutrality for North Korea – and for the Korean Peninsula more generally – have taken place in a variety of contexts since 1945. Not surprisingly, the most active periods for considering such proposals were in the late 1940s, during talks on terms for the withdrawal of US and Soviet occupation forces from the peninsula, and, subsequently, in 1953, during the course of the final negotiations on terms of an armistice to end the Korean War. In recent years, there has been very little discussion of this option as a means of moving towards peace on the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, however, certain factors in the contextual scene in the region may now make the idea more appealing than it once was to the United States. These changes provide the context for the following analysis, which will focus on the single option of a possible North Korean declaration of neutrality and its likely reception by the United States (across several stages of implementation). The way in which the United States views the Korean Peninsula has changed dramatically since the late 1970s as a result of several factors: (1) the growth of the South Korean economy, which is now much more capable than that of the North; (2) the normalization of US–Chinese relations in 1979, which has greatly mitigated US fears of a second US–Chinese military conflict on the peninsula; (3) the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the end of Russian aid to North Korea, which has virtually ended the threat of a concerted North Korean invasion of the South; and (4) the signing of the US–DPRK Agreed Framework in 1994, which has done a great deal to “demystify” the North in American eyes, while greatly reducing the potential nuclear threat posed by North Korea. The Agreed Framework has also opened a regular channel of communication between Pyongyang and Washington [as well as between Pyongyang and the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) organization in New York], giving the United States entrée into North Korean decision-making and creating the beginnings of a pro-North Korean lobby on the American side (where before only a pro-South Korean lobby had existed). All of these factors make the United States more receptive to new approaches to peace on the Korean Peninsula, as long as the ongoing talks on missile non-proliferation continue to yield progress.

US policy interests and North Korean neutrality


As for the concept of North Korean neutrality, the United States is likely to be opposed in the short term, as suspicions remain about Pyongyang’s ultimate objectives. However, as will be discussed in detail below, conditions could evolve sufficiently so that such an option might eventually appear attractive to policymakers in Washington, if the concrete implementation of neutrality by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) served broader US and allied interests in the region. The following analysis first reviews past US policies and proposals regarding neutrality concepts for the Korean Peninsula, noting that there has been periodic support for such ideas at various times in the post-World War II history of international negotiations regarding Korea. It then examines the likely reception in Washington of a North Korean declaration of neutrality from the perspective of current US–South Korean relations, US domestic politics, and broader US foreign policy. Following this initial assessment, the analysis then considers possible subsequent stages of the negotiations and possible US shifts, according to evolving circumstances. This discussion concludes by arguing that certain elements of a North Korean neutrality policy – within a period of three to five years – could become attractive to a US administration seeking to solidify its gains on the peninsula, reduce its financial burden, minimize its security risks, and further its long-term interests among other powers in the region (especially China, Russia, and Japan). At the same time, however, this analysis makes the case that the burden of proof in implementing a credible policy of neutrality would fall on North Korea itself, which would have to undertake substantial reforms in its foreign and domestic policies. Only then could North Korea be accepted by the United States as a neutral country, meriting the kinds of negative security assurances accorded by US policy to other internationally recognized neutral states (Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, and Nepal).

A brief history of US policy towards Korean neutrality proposals US views regarding the applicability of the neutrality concept to the Korean Peninsula have been discussed largely within the context of overall neutrality for a unified Korea, rather than within the context of neutrality for North Korea only. But the history of various negotiations includes frequent US expressions of interest in the concept and general support for its applicability, at least within a peninsulawide context. Some examples of the actual US promotion of Korean neutrality plans include the following:1 • •

US General Albert Wedemeyer’s suggestion to President Harry S Truman in July 1947 that the United States and the Soviet Union remove their troops from the peninsula and create a unified, neutral Korea. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles’s secret proposal to the National Security Council in June 1953 that the United States back the idea of a unified, neutral Korea as a means of achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula along with a complete withdrawal of US troops.


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US Senator William F. Knowland’s public recommendation in 1953 of the neutralization of Korea under a guarantee to be provided by the great powers (the United States, the Soviet Union, and China). Senator Mike Mansfield’s 1960 proposal for settling the issue of Korean unification along the lines of the Austrian model of neutrality, which would provide for national integrity and withdrawal of US forces. Internal US policy discussions following the establishment of Laos as a neutral state in 1962, during which various options were considered through the mid1960s for the neutralization of Vietnam in the context of a US withdrawal. Proposals by a number of senior US academics (including A. Doak Barnett, Gregory Henderson, James Morley, Edwin Reischauer, Robert Scalapino, and Oran Young) during the 1970s and 1980s, suggesting neutrality proposals as one route to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

• • •

The perennial problem with these proposals is that they have lacked both sustained US domestic support and, no less importantly, the backing of the two Korean governments. The hostile politics of the Cold War era, clearly, did not contribute to neutrality proposals either, as both sides of the 38th Parallel strongly distrusted the motives of the other, as well as those of their superpower backers. Thus, proposals on neutrality have rarely made it to the “front burner” of international negotiations. However, as noted above, the situation on the Korean Peninsula has changed markedly since the time when most of these proposals were raised. The most important factor has been the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of Russian military and financial support of the North Korean regime. Although China retains an alliance-type relationship with North Korea, the alliance does not seem to be held in particularly high regard in Beijing today, and its utility for Pyongyang in case of war remains highly dubious.2 But, of course, its abandonment would be a prerequisite for any credible North Korean claim to neutral status. As for the US–DPRK Agreed Framework, the freezing of the North Korean nuclear program for the past six years has provided added reassurance to the United States – and, to a lesser extent, South Korea – that it need not feel threatened about a possible North Korean nuclear attack on the South in the foreseeable future. These factors put a certain “floor” under the current relationship that makes the United States far more flexible than it has been for decades with regard to new initiatives from the North.

Initial considerations and likely US reactions (first twelve months) The means that North Korea might choose to deliver its declaration of neutrality – and its plan to adopt appropriate “neutral” policies to realize this declaration – would affect significantly its reception by the United States.3 At least five basic options for delivery exist: (1) a unilateral North Korean announcement of its adoption of neutrality; (2) a bilateral announcement with China, its only current

US policy interests and North Korean neutrality


ally, announcing North Korea’s neutrality and ending their security treaty; (3) a bilateral announcement of North Korean neutrality in the context of ongoing US– North Korean negotiations regarding normalization and implementation of the Agreed Framework; (4) a multilateral announcement of North Korean neutrality as part of a renewed inter-Korean dialogue or as part of four-power talks (possibly in the context of paired South Korean neutrality or a US troop withdrawal); or (5) a multilateral announcement involving North Korean neutrality as part of a package of agreements coming out of a broader international conference regarding the Korean Peninsula, including the four key powers plus Japan and Russia. The following analysis considers what are the most likely short-term possibilities, either the first or second option or some combination of the two: a unilateral announcement by North Korea of neutrality, perhaps in the context of a simultaneous bilateral declaration with China of their mutual abandonment of their defense pact (which would be required eventually in any case). Although the other options remain possible, they would each take greater time to develop and would require greater cooperation from other (more skeptical) powers, making them unlikely in the short run. Let us, therefore, examine the likely US response to a unilateral (or bilateral with China) declaration of North Korean neutrality across three interest areas (US–South Korea relations, US domestic politics, and broader US foreign policy considerations) over three time periods (twelve months, one to two years, and three to five years). US–South Korean relations In the current geopolitical context, the initial US response would be shaped largely by its likely impact on the US–South Korean relationship, the linchpin of US policy on the peninsula for nearly fifty years. Given the poor North Korean record for honesty in its public statements on the international scene, the initial US response would certainly be one of incredulity and skepticism. The move would be seen as an attempt by the North to drive a wedge between the South and the United States, and, as such, it would likely be met with little enthusiasm in Washington. The reasoning behind this initial rejection would be straightforward and unassailable: until North Korea provided evidence for its neutrality, there would be no reason for the United States (or other powers) to believe that it had abandoned its expansionist communist goals or its support for international terrorism. Thus, a unilateral North Korean announcement would likely be greeted by a US statement expressing skepticism, reaffirming its commitment to the South, and – depending on whether other negotiations had been going well or poorly – perhaps welcoming any future evidence of movement by Pyongyang away from its past policies and towards a genuinely neutral status. Overall, however, such a unilateral announcement by North Korea would solve little in the short run, and, indeed, might even cause an initial worsening of tensions, as the United States and South Korea would seek to reaffirm their commitments to one another.


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US domestic politics Given Republican control of the US House of Representatives and parity in the US Senate, there is little doubt that the initial Congressional response would also be highly negative. Long-time opponents of North Korea, such as Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, who have backed the Agreed Framework only after adding requirements for yearly Congressional reviews would undoubtedly see this move by Pyongyang as an attempt to “trick” the United States. The underlying assumption would be that North Korea was only out to split the US–South Korean alliance (which has been strongly supported on Capitol Hill in the past several years), extract additional US aid, or induce new US concessions in various ongoing negotiations. By contrast, US public opinion, being largely unfamiliar with either the concept of neutrality or the trustworthiness of North Korea, would likely be at least initially positive. The average American, caring little about North Korea except its weapons capabilities, would probably view a neutral North Korea – in the abstract – as far better than one allied with China or Russia against US forces stationed in the South. Indeed, it is quite possible that some newspapers in the United States – both conservatively and liberally inclined – might see the move as a first step toward a lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula and eventual US withdrawal of troops from the South, which many Americans desire. Broader US foreign policy considerations From a broader US foreign policy perspective, a North Korean declaration of neutrality would be placed within the context of the current list of perceived security concerns to the United States: (1) the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles (including missiles); (2) regional conflicts; (3) international terrorism; and (4) China as an emerging power. Within this hierarchy of interests, the only clear area of immediate progress would be in category 2. However, on further reflection, the United States could stand to benefit from possible progress in areas 1 and 3 as well, at least in the long run. In the short run, the United States could only begin to make some predictions of likely outcomes from the North Korean declaration based on Pyongyang’s poor record of compliance with international norms and regimes. From this initial vantage point, no US policy-maker would be able to claim any serious progress in any of these areas as a result of the North Korean declaration. At the same time, though, analysis and rethinking would begin on whether (and how) North Korean neutrality could help alleviate some of the United States’ more central security concerns.

Secondary responses after the initial reaction (one to two years after the announcement) Although the United States is not likely to either welcome or respond immediately to a North Korean declaration of neutrality, the passage of one to two years would

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allow the US policy community to analyze Pyongyang’s sincerity and measure the progress stemming from this policy in terms of US interests. Here, the variables would largely be factors of any observed changes in North Korean behavior. Rather than examine reasons for continuation of the status quo, for the sake of this analysis let us assume that North Korea would make a good faith effort to implement its neutrality doctrine. This allows us to consider in detail those factors that might lead the United States eventually to support North Korean neutrality. US–South Korean relations After the initial North Korean declaration, the key context for consideration of the proposal coming from Pyongyang would still be its likely effect on US–South Korean relations. The United States has consistently sought to appease Seoul’s perspective in the various negotiations, even to the detriment of its own perceived interests. (For example, in 1995–1996, the United States repeatedly rejected agreements with the North during the negotiations on the Agreed Framework and its protocols when South Korea indicated its objection.) But with the passage of time – and if Pyongyang made demonstrative progress in drawing down its military forces, in tandem with a reorientation of its policies toward acceptance of internationally recognized doctrines of neutrality – Washington might begin to amend its perspective. If it found that the North was cooperating, it might even begin to balance its own interests against those of Seoul. In the area of North Korean “delivery” on its declaration of neutrality, the following elements would be seen as credible efforts by Pyongyang: a pullback of North Korean forces from the demilitarized zone (DMZ); an end to military intelligence missions in South Korea (upholding its late December 1996 pledge regarding the cessation of submarine incursions); a shift in North Korea’s military force structure from an offensive to a defensive orientation (including the halting of its Nodong and Taepo’dong missile test programs); a steady reduction of North Korean ground forces to levels of “reasonable sufficiency” (relative to its population and territory); and the voluntary adoption of increased transparency in its nuclear program [such as the adoption of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Strengthened Safeguards Protocol]. Other favorable policies – not necessarily tied to neutrality – might include a cessation of missile and other arms sales, demonstrative actions to dismantle the North Korean chemical and biological weapons programs, and the welcoming of outside military observers to its exercises.4 If North Korea were to begin to engage steadily in some of the above measures in the year or so following its declaration, it would be difficult for a US administration to argue that the threat from the North had not seriously diminished. Indeed, US interests would clearly be served by such moves. In this context, US–South Korean relations would not necessarily worsen, but the need for a US troop presence would come under increasing pressure from the American public, and, by implication, from Capitol Hill. In this calculation, the behavior of the South Korean government could come into play, especially if the United States viewed it as blocking progress. In mid- to


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late 1996, for example, observers witnessed obvious US irritation with South Korea’s holding up the Agreed Framework over North Korea’s submarine incursion in September. The fast pace of decision-making surrounding the trip by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in the fall of 2000 also left commentators in Seoul wondering whether or not the United States was getting too far ahead of South Korean interests. In both cases, however, Washington stepped back and respected the views of its ally. Under Kim Dae-jung, notably, there has been a much greater willingness to experiment with a closer rapprochement and with dynamic new initiatives. Neutrality might be treated in the same way. However, it is difficult to predict what might come after the 2002 elections in South Korea, as new crises could cause a more conservative political leadership to come to power. The key variable here would be whether the United States believed that the South Korean government was maintaining an open and “reasonable” policy in reacting to North Korean overtures. If not, the United States might begin to point the finger at Seoul for slowing progress, if indeed there was tension in interpreting the meaning of North Korea’s behavior. In this context, it is worth stepping back for a moment to reconsider the roots of US policy on the Korean Peninsula during the Cold War. What one finds is not an intrinsic love for South Korea (whose early governments were dominated by ruthless authoritarian leaders), but a more self-interested US fear of the possible “domino effect” of communist victories in East Asia or Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. The “loss” of even small states (such as South Korea and South Vietnam) to communism was seen as threatening the cause of democracy in the world and, thus, as ultimately threatening US vital interests. Today, however, a credible North Korean policy of neutrality, in the context of its loss of backing from Russia and China, would virtually eliminate this fear. In turn, this revised, less threatening, perspective could begin to alter the whole rationale for US policy on the peninsula (in ways that are not immediately apparent today). Given George W. Bush’s campaign pledges to minimize US forces and commitments abroad, there could be tension between Washington and Seoul on the speed of the withdrawals. A North Korea moving steadily toward neutrality and non-aggression would certainly be extremely unlikely to launch an attack on the South. One that had given up its communist goals in foreign policy also would lack a specific rationale for doing so. Moreover, in the context of continuing North Korean poverty, hunger, and isolation from its old allies, it would become increasingly difficult for US policy-makers to take at face value typically inflated South Korean claims of North Korean capabilities. Similarly, US military claims about “weaknesses” in allied defenses would become less credible to US political decision-makers. In this context, the continued justification for US troops in the South would largely disappear. The United States would then begin to face a growing dilemma with regard to its own population and that of South Korea: how to justify the presence of US forces on the basis of the “threat” posed by a defensively oriented, neutral North Korea? The government in Seoul would be unlikely to be swayed by these changes and would continue to call for the stationing of US forces. In this context,

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North Korea might be able to drive a wedge between the two governments on this issue. In this difference of interests (US interest in withdrawal and South Korean interest in the maintenance of the US presence), the seeds of a more “strategic” US policy on the peninsula could emerge, linked to the Bush Administration’s goal of reducing US vulnerabilities and engagements abroad. One of the key factors in changing this calculus, of course, would be the mood of the American public, and, by implication, that of the US Congress. US domestic politics In the context of a distrustful South Korea and a “less threatening” and even “reforming” North Korea, American public opinion could begin to back a staged withdrawal of US forces from the South. The sharp turnaround in US public opinion concerning the perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union after the reforms initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev in the late 1980s (despite its continued control of a huge nuclear arsenal) and the rapid elevation of the US public’s perception of the threat regarding China in the mid-1990s (despite its vastly inferior nuclear and missile capabilities) suggest that US public opinion is sometimes malleable and (given a convincing rationale) that even long-standing opinions can change relatively quickly. Within Congress, however, attitudes tend to change more slowly. Yet, significant North Korean actions to fulfill its neutrality commitments could begin to shift the balance of judgment further to fiscal conservatives and neo-isolationist critics who have argued that the United States is wasting precious defense dollars by continuing to station troops in South Korea, while involving itself in potentially dangerous affairs that do not affect US security. At the same time, if properly orchestrated by the US administration, North Korean neutrality could be portrayed to erstwhile South Korean supporters on Capitol Hill as a major step forward in rolling back the last vestiges of communism, while also helping to slow North Korea’s weapons industry, sow the seeds of capitalism, and integrate this former “rogue state” into the world economy. With this rationale, even conservative Senate Republicans would find it difficult to side with a reluctant South Korean government, which could be portrayed by the US press as blocking the “peace process.” Broader US foreign policy considerations If the North Korean neutrality declaration were recognized by both Russia and China early on (and there are good reasons to think that both would welcome it), there could also be broader geostrategic benefits to the United States in moving ahead and recognizing North Korea’s neutral status. Beyond narrow US–South Korean issues, one of the advantages of a North Korean neutrality declaration, if viewed in a long-term perspective, is the likelihood that it might eventually be translated into a permanently neutral Korean Peninsula. Such a development could be viewed by the United States as a desirable outcome. While current politics


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suggest that the United States would be loathe to accept South Korean neutrality (even in the context of Northern neutrality), if such a declaration were to come as the final stage of a multistep, international negotiation in which the two Korean states themselves proposed this solution, the United States might find this development to be the best possible outcome. To understand why, it is useful to recall the history of the US position on this issue, which has often seen a great advantage in a neutral, unified Korea. Even on the eve of the Korean War, the United States did not treat South Korea as part of its vital interests. Afterwards, the US government remained open to the concept of neutrality, which was seen as far better than a costly, long-term engagement in a country far from its shores. Today, given ongoing developments in Northeast Asian international relations, there may be some special benefits to a neutral Korea from the US geostrategic perspective. These advantages are worth examining in some detail. Since the late 1980s, South Korea has made dramatic moves to normalize its relations with both China and Russia. These ties have become extensive, especially in the economic field with China and in the military sector with Russia. While the United States has cautioned Seoul frequently in recent years over its intentions to build longer-range missiles and has fretted over Seoul’s occasional fickleness in deciding on arms purchases, Russia has laid down the welcome mat to South Korean military delegations seeking to purchase less expensive, top-of-the-line Russian weapons, including submarines and the new Su-37 multiple-use fighter. Indeed, Russia has continually sought to export military hardware as a means of covering the debts owed by the Russian government today for loans accepted under the Gorbachev regime. Similarly, with Sino-South Korean trade soaring over $10 billion a year, there are strong indicators that Seoul might begin to look elsewhere for an ally if relations with Washington were to sour. These trends could become even stronger in the context of a unified Korea, which would have to take into account already existing proclivities in the North toward ties with China and Russia. The possibility that an eventual unified Korea could move toward an alliance with Russia or China cannot be ruled out. In such a turn of affairs, if the United States’ own relations with China were worsening, Washington could find itself facing a hostile Sino-Russian-Korean entente – clearly not a favorable outcome. Far better for US interests in the region to guarantee now that a unified Korea be forever neutral, so that none of these combinations would be possible. In this context, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Washington could eventually support both a neutral North Korea and a plan for an eventually neutral unified Korea. As shown above, the United States could adopt such a policy out of its perceived long-term self-interests. Alternatively, such a proposal could result from future four-power talks, now made possible again by the December 1996 North Korean apology to the South for its submarine incursion during the fall. However, it is important to keep in mind that such an outcome – while possible according to certain conditions outlined above – remains unlikely overall, given the current strength of US–South Korean ties and the desirability of a continued alliance from the perspective of both sides.

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Likely longer range US reactions (three to five years) In the context of a steadily improving situation on the Korean Peninsula, the United States and the other neighboring powers (China, Russia, and Japan) could be asked to provide negative security assurances (and even peace-keeping troops) to support a multistage peace process. Such a move would likely find considerable favor in the United States, as American troops are already deployed on the peninsula and the peace process could be seen as a means of bringing them home. In this sense, a neutral North Korea leading to a neutral, unified South Korea (or even one allied with the United States) could be portrayed as international “public good” worth investing in. Again, the single key variable in keeping this process going would have to be the actions of the North Korean leadership, which could single-handedly either convince the world of Pyongyang’s commitment to reform (through its actions) or show the leaderships in the key states involved once again that Pyongyang is not worth trusting. US–South Korean relations If progress continued to be made by North Korea in living up to its neutrality pledge, it is well within the realm of possibility that the United States would begin to draw down its forces in the South within three to five years as a means of promoting the peace process and regional confidence-building. Without Russian aid or the prospect of a Chinese bailout in the case of war, it would be increasingly difficult for even the most staunchly pro-South Korean supporters to argue that US troops remained necessary on the peninsula, at least at their present strength. Threats to the South could only be viewed as limited and would bear no significant consequences outside of the peninsula itself, since North Korea (if its troops were being drawn down and repositioned and its missile program halted) would lack any meaningful power projection capabilities to threaten US allies. This reduction of US forces could lead to substantial cost savings, improved US reputation as a peace-loving nation, and a lower level of vulnerability for American soldiers. In this context, although the alliance with South Korea could well continue, the United States could begin to position itself less as a guarantor of South Korean security than as a facilitator of Korean Peninsula peace. This is a role that the United States would likely not mind playing, especially if it might extract itself from the peninsula with minimal costs and long-term benefits in terms of good relations with both states. US domestic politics With the passage of time, US public opinion could be expected to rally significantly behind the idea of North Korean neutrality – if it were perceived to be connected to the beginning of a peace process on the Korean Peninsula. Since the Korean War, there has been a strong desire to remove US troops safely and to end the threat of communism in Northeast Asia. Both could be achieved through a multilateral peace process. In this context, it could well be feasible to generate


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both public and Congressional support for aid to the peace process and a sharp reduction in barriers to trade with the North, including official relations. Other, more tangible, mutual development programs could follow, particularly in the context of an increasingly unified Korea, in which investment in the North could be viewed as a long-term investment in the Korean people, rather than as a politically charged and economically risky investment in a communist country. Broader US foreign policy considerations Within the course of three to five years, North Korea’s neutrality could begin to be viewed by the United States as a transformative force on the peninsula. By this point, much would need to have changed in the North. However, assuming continued progress on key issues of concern to the United States, Washington could become a key supporter of North Korean security, perhaps in concert with other nations. Indeed, the greatest threat of war on the peninsula would now be recognized as political and economic instability, rather than an organized military invasion by the North. However, even in the case of a sudden economic or political collapse of the North, the United States could see itself as much better off in dealing with the results after a process of neutralization in the North, rather than after a more sudden break-up in the context of its currently pro-communist political line. Short of these conflict scenarios, the United States could begin to view North Korea more from the lens of the late 1940s; that is, it could begin to see North Korea as a weak, developing country more effectively won over by economic means than through risky military measures. Depending on the next president in Seoul, Washington may be supported in this new approach; that is, rather than yield possible international prestige to the North by trying to slow the pace of the rapprochement, it is likely that the Blue House would yield to public opinion and push forward plans for reunification. This would mean the repeal of laws restricting travel and communication with regard to the North, efforts that would likely be met with considerable domestic and outside support (as these have been goals long sought by international human rights groups). The beginning of regular contacts between the two sides could quickly escalate well beyond their extent today, thus stimulating both normalization and likely reunification. From a US perspective, these moves would surely be welcomed, and would allow Washington itself to begin to follow a more “normal” policy on the Korean Peninsula. In terms of US interests, further progress in the North–South dialogue stemming form North Korean neutrality would also help to remove some of the “burden” that the United States has carried in Northeast Asia since the Korean War, allowing it to overcome some of its own self-imposed limitations. One likely result would be a more equitable US trade policy with regard to the South, ending a longstanding policy of downplaying trade disputes and allowing certain barriers in the name of the US–South Korean security alliance. Although there would clearly be some negative implications in the short run in relations between Washington and Seoul, such moves by the United States to treat Seoul as a normal country

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(instead of as a fragile protectorate) would themselves help to end the harmful legacy of the Cold War in Northeast Asia. Such trends might also promote a further “normalization” of Seoul’s role as well, leading it to engage other partners (including China and Russia) more actively as it expanded its own sphere of economic relations.

Conclusions As one of the last vestiges of the Cold War, the still artificial divisions that characterize the state of international relations on the Korean Peninsula stand in stark contrast to developments that have swept Eastern Europe in 1989, the former Soviet Union in 1991, and China in the 1980s and 1990s – at least in regards to its economy and international trade relations. In this respect, the United States is not likely to reject innovative proposals from Pyongyang that seek a further reduction in tensions, especially those that come at little or no added cost to Washington. A North Korean declaration of neutrality could well be evaluated in this light, at least after the passage of a few years, during which time Pyongyang would have to prove its sincerity in adopting behavior commonly expected of neutral states. Assuming that North Korea wants to sustain itself and prove to the world that it is worthy of the financial investments and security guarantees that it needs to survive, the adoption of neutrality could be a first step. Given the passage of more than fifty years and the recent progress in negotiations, the United States no longer harbors the deep-seated animosity to the North that it once possessed. Washington wants, in many respects, to get on with the last steps of “winning” the Cold War and solving problems that are likely to get in the way of its own long-term security interests. Given the reduction of the great power threats that it faces and the fading of the specter of communism, Washington is also beginning to expect more burdensharing for the peace process from its allies – such as South Korea – that it has long protected, at great expense to itself. For these reasons, after some initial skepticism, the United States would be likely to take a flexible approach towards a North Korean declaration of neutrality, allowing bygones to be bygones – as long as Pyongyang is willing to show its commitment to real reform. Whether North Korea decides to adopt such an approach remains to be seen, as its policies continue to be difficult to predict. However, such a policy may be seen as a means of prolonging Kim Jong-il’s regime and extending its life. In that context, the likelihood of a neutrality declaration and gradual policy changes in that direction may well increase over time.

Notes 1 2

For a more detailed discussion of US policies towards Korean neutrality, see In K. Hwang, One Korea Via Permanent Neutrality: Peaceful Management of Korean Unification, Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Books, 1987, pp. 178–190. See the views of Chinese officials cited in the DPRK Report, no. 2 (July–August 1996) and no. 16 (January–February 1999) (available at dprkrprt).

76 3


James Clay Moltz Although there is not enough space to discuss each option in detail here, each method of delivery would influence the initial US response. Methods that included prior discussions with the United States or South Korea, of course, would be more likely to be met with a favorable response. North Korea, because of its reputation for deception, will have to be “cleaner” than an average neutral in order to prove itself. Thus, while others often engage in arms sales [see Ron Matthews, “The neutrals as gunrunners,” Orbis, 1991, vol. 35, no. 1 (Winter), pp. 41–52], North Korea will have to halt or greatly reduce its current exports to be accepted as “truly reformed.”


Japan’s policy toward North Korea Interests and options Tsuneo Akaha

Introduction The Korean situation is “a complex combination of issues, including how to reunify a divided people, how to help a country deal with an economic crisis, how to promote non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, how to enhance regional security, how to foster cooperation among countries in the region, and how to settle problems resulting from Japan’s past deeds in the region.”1 This was the way that, in 2000, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono described the complex set of issues and stakes involved on the Korean Peninsula. Among the myriad issues involved, “kako no seisan,” or the “settlement of the problems of the past,” is the only issue over which Japan can deal bilaterally with North Korea. Even this is one of the major stumbling blocks in the normalization talks between Japan and North Korea. All other issues, requiring both bilateral and multilateral approaches, are beyond Japan’s control. Even settlement of the bilateral issue – overcoming the legacy of Japanese colonial control of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 and normalizing relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang – requires progress in other issues in which, clearly, Japan is but one of the many parties. In this chapter, I will examine the regional, bilateral, and domestic influences in Japan’s policy toward North Korea and discuss Japan’s perspective on possible changes on the Korean Peninsula by drawing on the five scenarios outlined by Scalapino in Chapter 1. I will argue that, almost by default, Japan prefers slow evolutionary changes in North Korea that would not upset the status quo on the Korean Peninsula and that this preference is informed by Japan’s overriding interest in maintaining a stable regional security environment in Northeast Asia. I will also argue that Japan’s dependence on its security alliance with the United States for its own security and for the region’s peace and stability will dictate close policy coordination with Washington over developments on the peninsula. Third, I will point out that Japan’s improving but still sensitive relations with South Korea will also constrain Tokyo’s policy options vis-à-vis Pyongyang. Fourth, before Tokyo is ready to normalize relations with Pyongyang it has to settle some serious bilateral issues, ranging from the “settlement of the problems of the past” to the status of Japanese citizens allegedly abducted from Japan by North Korean agents. Finally, as I will discuss, there are some domestic factors that could potentially complicate Tokyo’s policy toward Pyongyang.


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The most undesirable scenario for Japan would be a precipitous deterioration in the political situation in North Korea that could threaten to escalate and invite big-power intervention. Equally alarming to Japan would be an outright military confrontation between North and South Korea, which would also likely result in direct foreign military involvement. Although such scenarios might include an eventual reunification of Korea – for example the South’s absorption of the North – the material and human costs that such developments would entail would far exceed anything that any of the regional powers, including Japan, could deal with, either individually or collectively. Despite the encouraging signs of improving relations between Seoul and Pyongyang following the June 2000 summit between the leaders of the two governments, there is no realistic prospect of a peaceful reunification of Korea in the foreseeable future. This leaves Japan and other regional powers with no option but to encourage reform in the North and the gradual opening of North Korean society, bolstered by expanded North–South Korean dialogue and human contacts. Violent or otherwise, major changes in the relationship between North and South Korea and between North Korea and the United States would certainly affect Japan’s policy toward North Korea. North Korea’s declaration of neutrality, whose desirability and prospects are explored by Mansourov in Chapter 3, could potentially bring about major shifts in the relations between these powers. Therefore, Japan would be well advised to examine this possibility very carefully. I will examine Tokyo’s likely response to Pyongyang’s declaration of neutrality, again in terms of Japan’s interests and foreign policy priorities. I will argue that Japan would initially respond with skepticism and even suspicion as to the real intent behind such a declaration. I will also point out that there are no compelling economic incentives or domestic political forces that would argue for Tokyo’s active support of Pyongyang’s neutrality. However, if North Korea were to take unilateral actions to establish the credibility of its declared status and if the United States and South Korea endorsed the idea of a neutral North Korea, Tokyo would have no reason to oppose such a development. In fact, I will argue that Tokyo might very well support North Korea’s transition to a neutral state either bilaterally as part of the normalization process or multilaterally in concert with its friends and allies.

Japan’s foreign policy priorities First, what is Japan’s overall foreign policy goal and how does Tokyo see its relationship with North Korea affecting this goal? Japan’s post-war foreign policy has been defined by its overarching goal: to maintain a stable, peaceful international environment in which to sustain its security and prosperity. This has dictated the evolution of the post-war policy of Japan on three mutually reinforcing levels. First, Japan defined its security alliance with the United States as the cornerstone of its overall foreign policy and maintained close cooperation with the United States, overcoming potentially disruptive effects of both political disagreements, for example over the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty, and economic

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friction, e.g. over trade imbalances and industrial policies.2 Second, Japan chose to avoid involvement in international conflicts and, instead, to focus on economic development through international trade, particularly with the United States and other capitalist economies in Asia-Pacific. Tokyo’s policy of conflict avoidance was clearly compatible with the US desire to bring Japan into its ideological fold and strategic orbit. Third, there was a domestic consensus on limiting the nation’s defense capabilities to those minimally required for self-defense and the economic burden of national security. Gradually, over time, Japan expanded its defense spending and military capabilities, partially in response to US pressure for a larger share of the burden of national defense and partially, more recently, because of a heightened sense of regional security threat, including the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation on the Korean Peninsula. Japan has also enlarged its international security role through participation in United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations. None of these developments fundamentally altered the proUS and Asia-focused foreign policy of Japan, however. Tokyo reaffirmed in 1996 that its security alliance with the United States would continue to be the cornerstone of its foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. Tokyo also continues to focus most of its foreign policy energies on developments in Asia, intent on expanding its role in regional security and willing to share a greater burden of maintaining regional stability and sustaining the dynamic growth and interdependence of the region’s economies. Tokyo is clearly cognizant of the legacies of its imperialist–militarist past, sensitive to its neighbors’ apprehension about the political intent behind its increasingly assertive foreign policy. A more recent development, which also complements Japan’s effort to contribute to regional security but to avoid entanglement in conflicts, is the slowly growing security dialogue with Seoul, Beijing, and Moscow – a development that was either unnecessary or impossible during the Cold War years. Japanese foreign policy-makers believe, as do their counterparts elsewhere in Asia, that, in the aftermath of the Cold War, the Asia-Pacific region is at the same time blessed with the possibility of further international cooperation and economic growth and fraught with the danger of hegemonic rivalry accompanied by an uncontrollable and mutually damaging arms race or races among the major powers of the region, including Japan. To enhance the first of these possibilities, Japan is furthering its cooperation with the United States and other members of the AsiaPacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in gradually liberalizing their trade and investment policies. With respect to the second possibility, the absence of any multilateral framework that could address security concerns and contain major power rivalry leaves Japan with no alternative but to continue to rely on its security alliance with the United States. Even though the Cold War rationale of the bilateral alliance has virtually disappeared, Japan and the United States recognize the importance of their security alliance for Japan’s security, for US interests in the region, and for the region’s stability generally.3 There are a number of specific issues which are clearly beyond Japan’s influence and for which the nation needs US leadership. First, the future direction of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and nuclear


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development in North Korea essentially depend on the success or failure of the US–DPRK Agreed Framework. Second, Washington also is an essential participant in any future international talks to determine the fate of the Korean armistice treaty. Third, the resumed dialogue between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will be affected in important ways by US relations with both sides, and vice versa. Fourth, Japan’s ability to respond effectively to North Korea’s development of nuclear or non-nuclear missiles is seriously constrained by international circumstances and domestic considerations. Tokyo has agreed to cooperate with the United States in the research and development of the theater missile defense (TMD) system, and its future development will affect Japan’s relations with North Korea and China. Should the TMD system development proceed to a deployment phase, it would seriously test Japan’s relations with North Korea and China inasmuch as these two countries consider the TMD system as targeted against them. Fifth, either an explosion or an implosion of North Korea would also bring about consequences that Japan could not contain.4 Japan would be in no position to respond unilaterally to the outbreak of another war on the Korean Peninsula, nor would it be prepared to cope with tens of thousands of refugees crossing the Sea of Japan (the East Sea). In all of these possibilities, Japan will work closely with the United States.

Japan–DPRK relations in Northeast Asia What is Japan’s perspective on its relations with the DPRK within the context of Northeast Asia? The fundamental truth is that Japan cannot pursue improvement of relations with North Korea strictly as a bilateral issue because both Japan and North Korea see each other in the light of the multiple relations involving other powers in the region – namely South Korea, China, and the United States, as well as, to a lesser degree, Russia. Although both Japan and North Korea recognize that they have bilateral issues that must be settled before they can normalize their relations, their approaches to those issues are informed by and often subordinated to their interests in relations with the other regional powers. Northeast Asia, generally, has been the most important but also the most difficult region of the world for Japan’s post-war foreign policy. The ideological conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War era virtually froze Japan’s relations with its ideological adversaries – the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea. The superpower strategic stalemate in Northeast Asia, the political conflict between the United States and China (and even the Washington– Beijing rapprochement in the 1970s), the division of the Korean Peninsula following the Korean War, and the division of China between the People’s Republic and Taiwan were all beyond Tokyo’s influence. The Cold War severely constrained Japan’s options and eliminated any possibility of reconciliation vis-à-vis China and the Soviet Union – historically the most important regional powers that Japan has had to deal with. The same can be said about Japan’s relations with North Korea. On the Korean Peninsula, Japan was left with only one alternative: to establish

Japan’s policy toward North Korea


diplomatic ties, as it eventually did in 1965, with the ROK. Albeit with a great deal of difficulty, this choice facilitated Japan’s post-war reconstruction and development in the 1950s and subsequently allowed Japan and South Korea to develop a bilateral relationship that supplemented the US-led alliance against the communist camp.5 On the other hand, the absence of diplomatic relations with North Korea in the post-war era occasionally complicated Japan’s foreign policy toward the Korean Peninsula, but did not affect the central tenets of Japanese policy discussed earlier. The historical and Cold War animosities between Japan and the DPRK certainly did not prevent Japan’s successful march toward the economic superpower status that it attained in the 1970s. Today, Tokyo shares with Washington, Moscow, Beijing, and Seoul an interest in a stable Korean Peninsula and desires the termination of the ideological and political conflict that continues to divide the North and South Koreans.6 Tokyo wants to see a credible and stable rapprochement between Pyongyang and Seoul. If immediate national reconciliation is difficult, Tokyo at least wants to avoid the destabilizing consequences of an isolated and unpredictable Pyongyang. Tokyo has been concerned about the suspected nuclear development and the uncertain post-Kim Il-sung leadership succession in North Korea. A nuclear-armed North Korea (or a nuclear-armed unified Korea) would be a direct threat to Japan’s security.7 The Korean Peninsula’s nuclear armament would also trigger a dangerous polarization in Japan between, on one hand, the hard-core realists who would advocate a nuclear option for their own country under such circumstances and, on the other hand, the pacifist and other Japanese who would continue to favor a non-nuclear policy. A nuclear Japan would fundamentally alter the strategic structure of Asia-Pacific, with alarming consequences for all countries concerned. A deeply divided Japan would certainly be unable to forge a favorable stance toward its reconciliation with North Korea. Currently, however, the Japanese are firmly committed to their non-nuclear status and strongly desire a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Tokyo wants to use what leverage it has in its normalization talks with Pyongyang to secure the DPRK’s commitment to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Japan wants to see the implementation of the 1991 Pyongyang–Seoul agreement on a nuclear-free peninsula, including mutual inspection and verification. Japan supports, and will continue to support, KEDO as long as it contributes to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Japan’s options vis-à-vis the DPRK are severely limited. Its earlier attempts to reach some accommodation with the DPRK have been frustrated by both Tokyo’s relations with Seoul and internal division within Japan. There are three main factors that complicate Tokyo’s approach to Pyongyang. First, the on–off talks between the ROK and the DPRK complicate Tokyo’s approach to Pyongyang, with periods of impasse in the North–South dialogue preventing any initiatives from Tokyo. For example, Tokyo had to wait until after the first round of high-level Seoul–Pyongyang talks in September 1990 before it could officially explore ways to establish diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. That same month, a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)–Socialist delegation visited Pyongyang and issued a joint statement with the DPRK Workers’ Party, in which


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the two sides agreed that normalization and advancement of Japan–DPRK relations would serve the two peoples’ interests and contribute to the peace and prosperity of Asia and the world. To deflect possible criticisms from Seoul and not to be tied legally to the terms of the joint statement, the Japanese government insisted that the declaration represented an agreement between the political parties concerned and did not constitute its position. The resumption of high-level Seoul–Pyongyang talks in December 1990 prompted Tokyo to decide officially to engage Pyongyang in talks for the normalization of diplomatic relations, the dialogue beginning in January the following year. Also encouraging to Japan were the simultaneous admissions of the ROK and the DPRK into the United Nations in September 1991 and the conclusion between Seoul and Pyongyang of a basic agreement and joint declaration on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula in December, as well as the ROK–China rapprochement in 1992. Tokyo was much encouraged by the visible improvement in North–South Korean relations in June 2000. Following the June summit between the ROK’s President Kim Dae-jung and the DPRK’s Chairman Kim Jong-il, there was a flurry of diplomatic meetings between Seoul and Tokyo designed to keep each other well informed of relations with Pyongyang and to impress on Pyongyang the cooperation between Seoul and Tokyo. On 20 June, President Kim sent a special envoy, led by the ROK’s Senior Secretary for Diplomacy and Security to the President Hwang Won-tak, to Tokyo to brief Japanese Foreign Minister Kono on the summit. When Kono met with his South Korean counterpart in Bangkok on 26 July 2000, he expressed his government’s support for the ROK’s engagement policy toward the DPRK and reiterated the importance of cooperation among Japan, South Korea, and the United States in North Korean policy. The foreign ministers also welcomed North Korea’s participation in the Regional Forum of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). Second, Tokyo was not in a position to proceed with its normalization talks with Pyongyang while the nuclear issue isolated the DPRK internationally. Following Pyongyang’s declaration in March 1993 that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Tokyo consulted closely with both Washington and Seoul. A year later, Prime Minister Hosokawa of Japan and the ROK’s President Kim Young Sam agreed that the two countries would join the international sanctions against North Korea over Pyongyang’s refusal to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspections of the nuclear facilities at Yongbyong. Tokyo was deeply alarmed by Pyongyang’s announcement that it was withdrawing from the IAEA. Therefore, the Japanese government was relieved by the conclusion on 21 October of the US–DPRK Agreed Framework. Tokyo pledged its support for the agreement and in March 1995 joined KEDO.8 Following this development, Tokyo has consulted closely with Washington and Seoul. The trilateral consultation has since become an important part of Tokyo’s diplomacy toward North Korea.9 Third, Tokyo and Pyongyang have their own bilateral issues to settle before they can establish diplomatic relations. At the most fundamental level, the two sides have a number of legal and jurisdictional disagreements. Firstly, Japan wants

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to establish clearly the limits of North Korea’s jurisdiction, which would affect the bilateral issues to be settled, whereas Pyongyang apparently fears that it would justify the division of Korea. Secondly, Tokyo asserts that the 1910 treaty of annexation of Korea was legally concluded and therefore a legitimate treaty, but Pyongyang insists the treaty was null and void from the very beginning. Thirdly, Japan asserts the San Francisco peace treaty is an important consideration in the restoration of diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, but Pyongyang rejects this because it is not a party to the treaty. A more tangible issue relates to the nature and scope of Japanese compensations demanded by North Korea. In the 1990 joint declaration noted above, the LDP–Socialist delegation acknowledged that Japan should fully and officially apologize to the North Korean people and compensate them both for the suffering inflicted on them by the thirty-six years of Japanese colonial rule and for the losses they suffered after 1945 as a consequence of the Japan–ROK diplomatic recognition to the detriment of North Korea. Tokyo rejects Pyongyang’s demand for post-war responsibility. Pyongyang maintains that Japan should not only settle all issues of assets and claims but should also pay war reparations and compensations, but Tokyo asserts that Japan and North Korea were never officially at war and therefore Japan has no obligation to pay reparations and compensations. Tokyo also rejects Pyongyang’s demand that it pay damages for its complicity in the Korean War. An ill-defined compromise was reached on 30 March 1995, when the North Korean Workers’ Party and the official Japanese delegation, including LDP and Socialist representatives, concluded an agreement that called for the resumption of normalization talks with no preconditions. On the issue of compensations, the agreement vaguely stated that the two sides would settle the “unfortunate past” lying between the two countries. The Japan–DPRK normalization talks were suspended in 1992, when the North Korean side walked out. LDP leaders Michio Watanabe and Yoshiro Mori led delegations of ruling coalition party members to Pyongyang in 1995 and 1997, respectively, but the Japanese and the North Korean governments stuck to their positions on the bilateral issues and failed to resume government-level talks for the normalization of relations because the North Korean side refused to hold statelevel talks with no preconditions.10 To make matters worse, North Korea launched a Taepodong missile over Japan on 31 August 1998, shocking the Japanese and heightening the Japanese fear of the North Korean threat. Tokyo quickly responded by announcing sanctions against Pyongyang, including freezing of chartered flights, stoppage of humanitarian assistance, suspension of monetary contributions to KEDO, and suspension of negotiations for diplomatic normalization. It was not until December 1999, when a mission of Japanese politicians from all the major political parties traveled to Pyongyang, that the two sides agreed on the need to resume normalization talks.11 State-level talks resumed in April 2000 in Beijing, followed by another round of talks in Tokyo in August 2000. At the normalization talks in Tokyo in August 2000, the North Korean side repeated its demand for Japanese apologies and reparations for the Japanese rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, whereas Japan raised the issue of ten


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Japanese citizens that it believes were abducted by DPRK agents in the past. In the next – the eleventh – round of talks in Beijing in October, the sides reiterated their positions and made little or no progress. Although the two sides agreed not to reveal the details of the talks, an editorial in the DPRK’s state-run Rodong Shinmun in December said that Japan had proposed to normalize relations on the basis of an economic plan similar to that used to normalize relations with South Korea in 1965, but that the DPRK side had rejected the proposal.12 The North Korean side did express appreciation for the Japanese decision to extend food aid to the DPRK. While attempting to normalize its relations with Pyongyang, Tokyo does not wish to jeopardize its relations with Seoul, much less its relations with the United States. Seoul remains extremely weary of any Japanese overtures toward Pyongyang, and Tokyo recognizes this.13 Therefore, throughout the twists and turns of international relations surrounding the Korean Peninsula, Tokyo closely consults with Seoul and Washington. For example, LDP Vice-President Keizo Obuchi visited Seoul shortly after the Tokyo–Pyongyang agreement in 1995 and reassured the South Korean government that Japan would continue to coordinate closely with Seoul and Washington. Tokyo also demonstrated its sensitivity to Seoul by delaying, until after consultation with Seoul, its decision to respond favorably to Pyongyang’s request in May 1995 for a humanitarian shipment of rice to the starvation-stricken North Korea. When Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori met with the ROK’s President Kim Dae-jung on 29 May 2000, the two leaders exchanged views on policy toward North Korea and the present situation of the Japan–DPRK normalization talks. Nor do the current Japanese economic interests indicate any possibility of a major turnabout in Japan’s policy toward North Korea. Japan’s economic ties with North Korea are very limited. As Table 5.1 shows, in 1999, North Korea exported to Japan $203 million worth of goods and imported from Japan $148 million, for a total two-way trade of $350 million. This made Japan North Korea’s leading trading partner, with North Korea’s two-way trade with South Korea, China, and Russia amounting to $333 million, $329 million, and $50 million respectively. For Japan, however, trade with North Korea is but a fraction of its global trade, which amounted to $762 billion in 1999. Even the establishment of a free economic and trade zone (FETZ) in the Rajin– Sonbong area in 1991 and Pyongyang’s repeated invitation for international investments has so far attracted only a limited interest in Japan.14 Although there are some Japanese firms, such as trading, construction, light manufacturing, and engineering companies, which might be interested in business opportunities in the FETZ, they are not likely to venture into risky investments without the goahead from the Japanese government. How about Japan’s role in regional economic cooperation involving North Korea? One such case is the Tumen River Area Development Program, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-supported project to develop the border area of China, Russia, and North Korea, which is attracting increasing media attention. The project has a historic significance in that it represents the first attempt

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Table 5.1 North Korea’s trade with other Northeast Asian countries, 1995–1999 (in US$ million) 1995





340 255 595

291 227 518

310 179 489

219 175 395

203 148 350

Exports Imports Total

223 64 287

182 70 252

193 115 308

92 130 222

122 212 333

China Exports Imports Total

64 486 550

69 497 566

122 535 656

57 356 413

42 329 370

Russia Exports Imports Total

16 68 83

29 36 65

17 67 84

8 57 65

2 49 50

Japan Exports Imports Total South Korea

Source: ERINA (Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia, Niigata, Japan), ERINA Report, 2000, vol. 35 (August), p. 55.

at multilateral economic cooperation that has ever taken place in post-war Northeast Asia. It symbolizes the thaw in Cold War hostilities in the region. Observers concur that Japan’s participation is essential to the Tumen River project’s success, particularly as a source of capital and as a market for commodities to be produced in or shipped through the designated area of development. However, Japan is currently a passive observer rather than an active participant, officially holding an observer status in the project. According to Tokyo, the absence of diplomatic ties with North Korea prevents the Japanese government from providing direct assistance to the project. Tokyo sees no compelling reason why it should change its cautious approach, as the project currently faces many formidable obstacles that are beyond Japan’s control. The most important obstacle is the absence of a common strategic view among the participating countries regarding the political, security, and economic implications of the project. Beyond the basic agreement that the project requires both unilateral and joint investment of resources, the parties have divergent agendas and priorities. For example, the DPRK is evidently much more interested in attracting foreign investments in its effort to develop the Rajin–Sonbong area. Pyongyang certainly has no intention of subordinating this goal to the Tumen River project. Japan’s attitude toward the Rajin–Sonbong project and the Tumen River Project would become much more favorable if Tokyo were persuaded that North Korea was becoming a credible partner in international engagement. Even before diplomatic normalization, Tokyo could certainly encourage private investments


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in both projects. It would also be conceivable for Tokyo to extend capital and technical assistance to the Tumen River Project through the international framework established in 1995, i.e. the Tumen River Area Development Coordinating Committee and the Consultative Commission for the Development of the Tumen River Economic Development Area and Northeast Asia. In conclusion, it would take a miracle for Tokyo to embark upon a major policy shift in support of political initiatives from Pyongyang at the risk of jeopardizing Japan’s relations with either Washington or Seoul.

Domestic politics The end of the Cold War has eliminated the ideological rift between the right and the left that characterized Japanese politics during the Cold War decades. This is most dramatically symbolized both by the fall of the Socialists from the most important opposition party during the 1950s to 1980s to one of the smallest opposition parties following the parliamentary elections in 1996, and by the loss of governing power by the LDP from 1993, when it lost its majority position in the House of Representatives, to 1995, when it managed to form a coalition government with its erstwhile political adversary during the Cold War – the Socialists. As a result, there is now little ideological motivation in the foreign policy debate among the political parties, large or small, except the Communists, who remain officially committed to the ideals of Communism.15 The de-ideologization of Japanese politics has two conflicting implications for Tokyo’s foreign policy in general. On the one hand, the disappearance of the post-war left–right division in Japanese politics has led to the declining role of political ideologues and the rising influence of government bureaucracies in the making of Japanese foreign policy. Tokyo’s international policy today is informed more by the pragmatic interests and risk-avoiding orientations of government bureaucrats than by change-seeking initiatives of individual politicians or political parties. The bureaucratic tendency toward risk aversion equates absence of major policy initiatives. The bureaucratization of foreign policy-making means, generally, that any major foreign policy shift will require consensus among the foreign, economic, and defense bureaucracies, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (formerly the Ministry of International Trade and Industry), the Ministry of Finance, and the Defense Agency. It is a difficult and time-consuming task to forge a consensus on a major, controversial foreign policy issue. Therefore, the bureaucracy-dominated policymaking would offer a rather dim prospect for a major shift in Japanese foreign policy in general. On the other hand, the de-ideologization of Japanese politics may allow for greater flexibility in Tokyo’s policy toward North Korea. Japanese prime ministers in the post-Cold War era should feel less constrained by ideological residues in the political parties that they represent. For example, it was not inconceivable that Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto might contemplate major foreign policy initiatives if he felt it would enhance both his leadership credibility and Japan’s

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foreign policy profile. In fact, there were indications that Hashimoto wanted to establish a stronger Prime Minister’s Office with independent policy review capability than under previous governments, except under the government of Yasuhiro Nakasone (1982–1987), who undertook controversial steps toward strengthening the power of the Prime Minister’s Office in foreign policy-making. However, Hashimoto was focused more on domestic policy priorities, particularly in the area of administrative reform, than on foreign policy. Although he recently exhibited his leadership capability over the issue of US bases in Okinawa, his primary concern in this case was how to control the potentially disruptive effects on the just reconfirmed US–Japan security alliance of the political need to respond to the Okinawans’ demand for reducing the size of US bases on their islands to ameliorate the impact on local communities. It was doubtful, moreover, that the prime minister would be willing to take the kind of political risks that the late Shin Kanemaru took when he tried to create an opening in the frigid Tokyo– Pyongyang relationship by co-leading, with his Socialist counterpart Makoto Tanabe, the Japanese delegation to Pyongyang in 1990.16 Nonetheless, prospects for a more flexible foreign policy toward North Korea are not totally absent. If the noticeably de-ideologized Liberal Democrats are to continue their policy cooperation, if not share a coalition government, with the Socialists, the latter group’s long-time advocacy of normalization with the DPRK may gain some support in the government. Given the dismal performance of the Socialists in post-Cold War Japanese politics, including in the 1996 upper house elections, the Socialists are not in a position to assume a leading position in forging a pro-DPRK policy in Tokyo. Nonetheless, cooperation of the Social Democratic Party (and that of its former members who have joined other opposition parties) with the LDP could be an important source of change in Japan’s policy toward North Korea. Public opinion will remain on the sidelines as there are no politically significant groups in Japan that can mobilize support for a major shift in their government’s policy toward the DPRK. There are Korean residents in Japan with DPRK ties who would stand to benefit from improved Japan–DPRK relations, but they are not in a position to mobilize the general public, let alone alter the Japanese government’s policy.

Scalapino’s five scenarios from the Japanese perspective Given the various constraints on Japan’s policy toward North Korea that have been discussed above, which of the possible scenarios postulated by Scalapino in this volume would be the most desirable from Japan’s perspective? Additionally, how would Japan respond to North Korean neutrality? The first scenario – collapse – would be highly undesirable for Japan because of the unmistakable chaos, incalculable human suffering, and enormous material costs that it would entail not only for North Korea but also for the surrounding countries, including Japan. It would be very destabilizing for the region as a whole. The second scenario – emergence of a major rift within the elite and the


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regionalization of the internal conflict – would be less threatening, but it would be very unsettling for Japan because the eventual outcome would be very difficult to predict. Japan would have little or no influence on how the crisis would play out. Either to contain the conflict or to support the United States or South Korea in their responses to the impending crisis, Japan would have to make substantial contributions. Unlike in the case of crises in far-flung areas of the world, such as the Persian Gulf, or even contingencies in Southeast Asia, Japan would not be able to remain a bystander to a North Korean crisis that could very well threaten regional peace and stability. Japan’s alliance with the United States would be tested. Its relations with South Korea would be tested, as would its relations with China. This scenario would most likely qualify as a situation in areas surrounding Japan that threatened its peace and security under the 1997 Guidelines for US– Japan Defense Cooperation and would result in a call for Japanese action, including direct military cooperation with the United States. What specific action Japan would take in its vicinity remains to be seen. There are many outstanding issues that Japan has not fully settled.17 Moreover, there is a high probability that both the United States and China would intervene, certainly politically and possibly even militarily. Depending on the nature of the US–Chinese competition that would develop in this scenario, Japan might very well be forced to take sides. There is no question that Japan would support the United States, but it would nonetheless test China’s tolerance vis-à-vis the US–Japan alliance far more perilously than in any previous episode of US–Chinese rivalry – a prospect that would be very unsettling for Japan. A third scenario is that of minimum change, “standing still” in Pyongyang. Tokyo would prefer this to the preceding two scenarios for the obvious reason that it would not force any significant change or any political or material cost on Japan. On the other hand, the status quo would not contribute to the reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula and Tokyo’s policy toward Pyongyang would continue to be constrained. Moreover, even a minimum opening in the North would offer some business opportunities to South Korea, China, and a few other countries that have already established diplomatic relations with North Korea, whereas Japanese economic interests would remain a hostage to the standstill – not a welcome prospect for Japan but not intolerable either. Scalapino’s fourth scenario – conflict – is quite undesirable from the Japanese perspective. It would raise the same concerns as the first and the second scenarios. The impact of this scenario may very well combine the costs of the collapse and crisis regionalization scenarios. It is clear that Japan would have little or no means of preventing this scenario once it started to unfold. Fortunately, according to Scalapino, this scenario seems “highly unrealistic” because the DPRK elite is bent on survival, not suicide. The final scenario – an evolutionary process of incremental reforms involving limited international assistance – would be the most desirable for Japan. Japan could offer substantial assistance for major economic reforms in the DPRK and encourage Pyongyang to become increasingly engaged in international affairs. This would contribute to a reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula and a

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peace agreement. If successfully engineered, the strategy could help North and South Korea to achieve the ultimate objective of unification in some form. As I have pointed out earlier, however, Japan’s role in this scenario would require accommodation and reconciliation between Tokyo and Pyongyang, a prospect that has not been very promising so far. The last scenario has some common elements with the neutrality scenario discussed in the other chapters of this volume. In the following section, I will speculate on Japan’s possible response to the hypothetical declaration of neutrality by North Korea.

Neutrality of the DPRK: a possible but improbable scenario In my view, a neutral North Korea is a possible, perhaps even desirable, but not a likely scenario. Its realization would depend on developments along multiple paths, both internal and external to North Korea. It would require some drastic measures on Pyongyang’s part, either unilateral or in quid pro quo with the other powers, which are not likely to be embraced by the current autocratic leadership. However, a neutral DPRK may be a desirable, if not the most desirable, development from the perspective of a reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula and broader regional stability – one of the main foreign policy goals of Japan. Therefore, this possible but improbable scenario nevertheless warrants careful consideration by Tokyo. If the DPRK issues a unilateral declaration of neutrality, Japan will initially be very cautious, perhaps even suspicious, but may gradually adopt a more favorable view of the prospects of a neutral North Korea if three developments ensue: (1) US and ROK endorsement, (2) demonstration by the DPRK of its commitment to the declared status through unilateral, concrete and substantive steps indicated below, and (3) institution of international, preferably multilateral, mechanisms to ensure and support North Korea’s neutrality. For the reasons noted below, it would be next to impossible for Japan to endorse, much less support, neutrality for the DPRK unless and until the United States and South Korea decided to do so, unilaterally or, more likely, jointly. Such US–ROK action would be conceivable only if the 1994 Agreed Framework were implemented fully and successfully and if the United States and the DPRK were confidently close to mutual diplomatic recognition, as well as if the North–South dialogue were to show substantial progress toward some agreement on the future shape of the Korean state. The unilateral measures that the DPRK would need to take to give credibility to its neutrality declaration would include visible steps toward the termination of its defense pact with China, unequivocal renunciation of the use of force for Korean reunification, removal of troops from the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and adoption of strictly defensive force structure and deployment. North Korea would also need to ensure verifiable dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program in full compliance with the US–DPRK Agreed Framework and the NPT. Accession to the international chemical and biological weapons regimes would also go a long way toward establishing the credibility of a DPRK neutrality policy. As Moltz


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argues in Chapter 4, the burden of proof for credible neutrality is on North Korea, and Pyongyang would have to take the initial steps of its own volition. Once Pyongyang’s commitment is demonstrated through these initial steps, the international community would likely welcome them and reciprocate by extending assistance and cooperation. However, the international community’s support would probably not include endorsement of North Korea’s neutrality as such without the other elements of effective neutrality also being in place. This would include successive and complementary actions of support and assistance by the United States, China, Russia, and Japan – not a very likely prospect. International mechanisms in support of neutrality of the DPRK would include security guarantees by the United States and either explicit or implicit endorsement by the other major powers. If US security guarantees were linked to the fourparty talks, they would require explicit and formal acceptance by China and South Korea, as well as support from Russia and Japan. If US security guarantees were not directly linked to the four-power peace talks, then implicit endorsement by China, Russia, and South Korea would be required. It would be nearly inconceivable for the United States to offer security guarantees to North Korea without South Korea’s explicit approval. Endorsement, if it came, would likely be a part of a formal agreement with the North. Moreover, the KEDO framework, in which the United States, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union members are involved, could contribute to the international recognition of unilateral DPRK initiatives as credible and worthy of the world community’s support. The international support might fall short of endorsement of the neutrality of North Korea if, as noted above, China were to insist on maintaining its defense pact with North Korea. The one element that is present in the neutrality scenario but not in the last of Scalapino’s scenarios is the termination of Pyongyang’s defense pact with Beijing. Under the present circumstances – in which South Korea and the United States are formal allies, the US presence in Japan is based on the alliance between these countries, and China and the United States are competing for influence over the Korean Peninsula – the prospects of China and North Korea abandoning their defense treaty are virtually nil. Therefore, North Korea would have to proceed quite far along the evolutionary change scenario postulated by Scalapino, and international support of that process would have to be fairly firm before the neutrality scenario would have a more realistic prospect. In short, in any realistic assessment of future scenarios, I would argue that meaningful neutrality of North Korea would have to follow the evolutionary change scenario, not the other way around. However, at least theoretically, a simple declaration of DPRK neutrality could precede or be a part of the evolutionary change in North Korea. If, in the desirable but not probable scenario, North Korea followed through with its unilateral measures to establish the credibility of its professed intent to become neutral and if the international community provided the necessary support, then there would be no compelling reason why Japan should not support it as well. Short of unanimous international support, endorsement by the United States and South Korea would probably be sufficient to encourage Japan also to endorse

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a North Korean neutrality declaration. It would be reasonable to expect a Japanese offer of substantial economic assistance to the DPRK, including an equivalent of war reparations and other compensations for the wartime suffering that Japan inflicted upon the people of North Korea. Such assistance may or may not be a condition for the establishment of Japan–DPRK diplomatic relations, but successful movement toward North Korean neutrality and progress on diplomatic recognition would certainly be mutually reinforcing. Further into the future, a question may be raised as to the legitimacy/feasibility of a neutral state’s membership in a regional economic grouping or organization, such as the APEC. Several European neutrals have faced this dilemma with respect to various regional trade and economic schemes. However, as long as the APEC remains a loose organization with no political obligations on the part of its membership and continues with the “open regionalism” approach, i.e. not discriminating against non-members, the neutrality issue should not be a major obstacle to North Korea’s participation in the Asia-Pacific forum. However, if the APEC decides to move toward a more formal organization with political commitments including security implications, a neutral North Korea would be a major issue.

Conclusions The foregoing analysis leads to several conclusions. First, Japan’s policy toward North Korea is dictated by its overall foreign policy goal, i.e. to maintain a stable and peaceful international environment favorable to its peace and prosperity; its close alliance with the United States for its own security and for the peace and stability of the region; its desire to maintain or develop friendly relations with its Asian neighbors, including the ROK; and its desire to expand its role in regional security. Second, Japan prefers incremental evolutionary changes in North Korea because all other scenarios – regardless of their likelihood – would destabilize the region and impose far greater costs on Japan and other regional powers than they would be prepared to bear. To the extent that the US and South Korean policies of engagement toward North Korea help to move North Korea in that direction – and so far this has been the general conclusion in Japan – Tokyo will continue to support those policies. It will not take any major initiatives that might upset those policies, particularly because it sees that the engagement policies are conducive to the opening of North Korea and will also enhance the chances of Japan’s normalization with North Korea. Tokyo may wish that its own normalization efforts with Pyongyang will contribute to the opening of North Korea, but it is not likely to push ahead with the normalization talks if the US and South Korean engagement policies should fail to produce any sign of change in the North. In the meantime, the Japanese are likely to continue to provide humanitarian assistance, but the Japanese government is likely to try to use it as an instrument of policy to induce a more conciliatory posture from Pyongyang on the bilateral issues. Third, Tokyo has stepped up its policy coordination with both Washington and


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Seoul since the 1994 nuclear crisis. Tokyo expects Washington to lead – to set the general tone of international approach to Pyongyang. As long as Tokyo follows Washington, its leverage against Pyongyang will remain limited. Tokyo’s influence in North Korea is further diminished by its need to take care not to raise any suspicions in the ROK regarding its intentions vis-à-vis Pyongyang. Fourth, Tokyo would be in favor of the idea of a neutral North Korea if it would mean greater chances of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, but Tokyo would have serious doubts about the credibility of Pyongyang’s pronouncement as well as the feasibility of a truly neutral DPRK. The burden of proof rests with Pyongyang. However, if the favorable conditions outlined in the foregoing analysis should prevail, including credible unilateral steps by North Korea and US and South Korean endorsement, the Japanese government could count on domestic public opinion that would be favorable toward a neutral North Korea. Fifth, in terms of a probable sequence of developments, a North Korean declaration of neutrality would initially be met by skepticism and even suspicion in Tokyo. Tokyo’s immediate action would be to consult with Washington and Seoul as to “how to read” the declaration. Tokyo would not take any action other than, perhaps, a demand for clarification of the declaration by Pyongyang, before it consults with Washington and Seoul. Tokyo would certainly be concerned about the authenticity, intent, and credibility of the declaration. If, and only if, Pyongyang followed up with unilateral, concrete, and substantive steps to demonstrate its commitment to the status of neutrality, would Washington and Seoul consider the declaration to be a serious move on the part of the DPRK. If the United States and the ROK were to endorse the idea of a neutral DPRK, then Tokyo would follow suit and call on Pyongyang to follow through with a set of actions to establish the credibility of its neutrality declaration. Finally, once Tokyo reaches the decision to support a neutral North Korea, the Japanese government would very likely be prepared to support the development of international mechanisms to ensure the success of North Korea’s transition toward neutrality. This would likely include an offer of economic assistance through bilateral (Japan–DPRK) channels, through trilateral (Japan–US–ROK) coordination, and through multilateral mechanisms (e.g. KEDO, the UN, and the Asian Development Bank). Japan would also likely urge the expansion of the four-party talks to include Japan and Russia, to further multilateralize talks on the future direction of Korea. In conclusion, regardless of which scenario will evolve in the foreseeable future, Japan’s ability to influence Pyongyang, as well as the other regional powers in the affairs of the Korean Peninsula, will remain severely constrained. The nation’s limited influence is publicly acknowledged by Japanese political leaders. When Japan lifted its ban on chartered flights to Pyongyang, following the US announcement of the partial lifting of its economic sanctions against North Korea, former Prime Minister Murayama wrote that, if the government lifted its sanctions “as a result of US pressure, Pyongyang may conclude that it does not have to deal directly with Japan and that its negotiations with Washington will be enough to influence Japan. This would leave no room for Japan to take any initiatives.”18

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Notes 1




5 6 7

8 9

10 11

12 13

Kono Yohei, “Pursuing positive Korea policy,” Japan Quarterly, 2000, October– December, p. 4. Kono was the first Japanese foreign minister to meet face-to-face with a North Korean foreign minister; the meeting took place with Paek Nam-sun in Bangkok on 26 July 2000. For an overview of the evolution of US–Japanese relations in the post-Cold War era, see Tsuneo Akaha, “US–Japan relations in the post-Cold War era: ambiguous adjustment to a changing strategic environment,” in Inoguchi Takashi and Purnendra Jain (eds) Japanese Foreign Policy Today, New York: Palgrave, 2000, pp. 177–193. See Boeicho, Heisei 8-nendo Boeihakusho 1996 (1996 Defense White Paper), Tokyo: Okurasho Insatsukyoku, 1996, pp. 81–88, 96–130; The President of the United States, A National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, Washington, DC: The White House, February 1996, pp. 39–40; Office of International Security Affairs, Department of Defense, United States Security Strategy for the East Asia-Pacific Region, Washington, DC: Department of Defense, 1995, pp. 5–8. “Explosion” means either a precipitous deterioration of DPRK–ROK relations culminating in an open armed confrontation between the two sides or a limited DPRK attack on the ROK instigated by hard-line elements within the North as a tactical move designed to silence a voice for accommodation with the South. Even in the latter case, the ROK (and the United States) would almost certainly retaliate with a major counter-offensive and the war would easily escalate. “Implosion” refers to the possibility of the collapse of the Kim Jong-il regime. In fact, the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 and the US procurement in support of its intervention in the conflict had brought Japan the major boost that it needed for post-war recovery. See Tsuneo Akaha, “Japan’s security policy in the posthegemonic world: opportunities and challenges,” Tsuneo Akaha and Frank Langdon (eds) Japan in the Posthegemonic World, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1993, pp. 99–100. See Yasuhide Yamanouchi, “Japan’s security policy and arms control in North East Asia,” IIGP Policy Paper, 59E, Tokyo: International Institute for Global Peace, June 1991; Ryukichi Imai, “Expanding the role of verification in arms control,” IIGP Policy Paper, 59E, Tokyo: International Institute for Global Peace, February 1992; Ralph A. Cossa, The Major Powers in Northeast Asian Security, McNair Paper 51, Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 1996, p. 30. Japan was expected to contribute $1–1.2 billion, or 25–30 percent of the estimated $4 billion total cost of the installation of light-water reactors to replace the graphitemoderated reactors. Asahi Shimbun, 25 February 1995, p. 1. Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono stated in 2000: “What is particularly important in facilitation of relations with North Korea is collaboration between the Republic of Korea, for its direct involvement in inter-Korean dialogue, and Japan and the United States, both vitally interested in security and other affairs relating to the peninsula.” (Kono Yohei, op. cit., p. 5.) Izumi Hajime, “Pyongyang grasps new realities,” Japan Quarterly, 2000, April– June, p. 11. For a description of the December 1999 visit of the Japanese multi-party delegation to Pyongyang, see Murayama Tomiichi, “Beyond my visit to Pyongyang,” Japan Quarterly, 2000, April–June, pp. 3–10. Murayama was Japan’s prime minister from 1994 to 1996, chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1993 to 1996, and the leader of the delegation to North Korea. Reuters, “N. Korea says it refused Japan normalization plan,” Tokyo, 1 December 2000; cited in the Nautilus Daily Report, 2000, December 2. Ralph A. Cossa, The Major Powers in Northeast Asian Security, Washington, DC: Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, 1996, p. 32.


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14 15

Asahi Shimbun, 18 July 1996, p. 6. The recent increase in the Communist Party’s popularity among Japanese voters reflects not their ideological support of the Communists but rather their disgust with the mainstream politicians who appear to be more interested in “politics,” i.e. gaining or staying in power, than in effectively managing the nation’s affairs – most importantly in steering the country out of its current economic recession, the deepest and the longest that Japan has experienced since the immediate post-war years. Reinhard Drifte, Japan’s Foreign Policy in the 1990s: From Economic Superpower to What Power? New York: St. Martin’s Press, in association with St. Antony’s College, Oxford, 1996, p. 64. See, for example, Tsuneo Akaha, “Beyond self-defense: Japan’s elusive security role under the new guidelines for US–Japan defense cooperation,” The Pacific Review, 1998, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 461–483. Murayama, op. cit., p. 9.

16 17 18


The US–Japan security treaty and neutrality for North Korea James E. Auer

Introduction The chapters by Mansourov, Moltz, and Akaha reasonably argue that neutrality of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would require international agreement involving guarantees by the United States, China, and Russia, as well as endorsement of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the cooperation of other powers such as Japan. While having no quarrel with that statement, this chapter argues that the key to stability in Northeast Asia both during the Cold War and after has been the US–Japan security treaty and that, if North Korea seriously proclaimed neutrality and demonstrated over time that it was carrying out the duties of a neutral state, it would simultaneously remove one of the greatest shortterm threats to instability in Northeast Asia, and, by so doing, would bring itself into harmony with the goals of the US–Japan alliance. The duties of a neutral state would include: first, not taking up arms against another state, except to defend itself; second, not aiding or encouraging the spread of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons; third, not developing such weapons and/or others such as missile delivery systems capable of reaching the ROK, Japan, and beyond; and, fourth, not assuming treaty obligations which compromise its neutral status. This chapter argues four points. First, the goals of the US–Japan security treaty, both during the Cold War and after, has been and is not to provoke and win a war with the Soviet Union/Russia, China, or any other nation including the DPRK but rather to maintain the peace and stability necessary for the continued and growing prosperity of the United States and Japan. Second, this chapter argues that US and Japanese interests, which were once very different during the early Cold War period, became increasingly similar as Japan’s economy recovered and grew, and remain as close or closer after the Cold War. Third, as a result of dramatic differences between the Cold War period and its aftermath, changes in the Pacific security framework to insure continued stability might be appropriate, and neutralization of the DPRK could be one of those changes. The fourth and final argument of this chapter is that the US–Japan security treaty is potentially the most critical factor in making the possibility of DPRK neutrality a reality.


James E. Auer

The goals of US foreign policy The foundations of post-World War II US policy pre-date even the Cold War. Prior to the end of World War II, Congress declared that the United States: expresses itself as favoring the creation of appropriate international machinery with power adequate to establish and to maintain a just and lasting peace among the nations of the world, and as favoring participation by the United States therein through its constitutional processes.1 And in a 1945 address just a month after Japan’s surrender, President Truman outlined the fundamentals of American foreign policy: We seek no territorial expansion or selfish advantage. We have no plans for aggression against any other state, large or small. We have no objective which need clash with the peaceful aims of any other region… By the combined and cooperative action of our war Allies, we shall help the defeated enemy states establish peaceful, democratic governments of their own free choice. And we shall try to attain a world in which Nazism, Fascism, and military aggression cannot exist. We believe that all states which are accepted in the society of nations should have access on equal terms to the trade and raw materials of the world… We believe that full economic collaboration between all nations, great and small, is essential to the improvement of living conditions all over the world, and to the establishment of freedom from fear and freedom from want.2 These two pre-Cold War statements issued even before the end of World War II and before the Truman Doctrine reflect the policy goals of the United States before, during, and after the Cold War. As an advanced industrial nation, the United States has been and is today pursuing a policy to sustain and strengthen the economy which has been built up. It is argued herein that this has also become Japan’s policy during the Cold War and will increasingly be so in the post-Cold War period. Ronald Reagan was precisely correct that the Soviet Union was the evil empire, the only empire which survived World War II and grew larger thereafter; but the United States decided to spend enormously to contain communism, not because of the massive human rights abuses which took place in Soviet gulags or in China under Mao Zedong. The United States did so reluctantly, and with great sacrifice, because Soviet and Chinese communism was perceived as threatening “the just and lasting peace” that Congress resolved to establish and maintain and as constituting military aggression equivalent to Nazism and Fascism. George Kennan and others may believe that the United States went too far and that too much money was unnecessarily spent, but the intention was always to “contain” rather than to “fight.” And the strategy worked brilliantly. Although US defense spending averaged 10 percent of the gross national product (GNP) during

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the Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations, this burden did not seem to hinder the post-World War II economic hegemony days of the United States. Beginning with President Truman, US chief executives, backed by Congress and the American public, provided financial aid to help Western Europe and Japan to rebuild their economies in order to promote the stability of allies of the United States. From 1945 to 1965, a period of dramatic post-war expansion for the United States, its share of world wealth “declined” from 45 percent of the GNP to 25 percent, approximately where it still stands today despite continued dramatic growth in total world economic strength. In other words, the United States simultaneously helped Western Europe and Japan while growing its own economy. America’s abnormally high (45 percent) share of world GNP existed only because of the devastation of World War II. America’s huge 25 percent share has continued for more than three decades despite some fears of a US decline. The Reagan defense build-up, despite what its critics said about its effects on the American economy, never exceeded 7 percent of GNP spending. As Caspar Weinberger frequently pointed out, a secure world for less than 7 percent of national wealth was a bargain; Japan’s bargain was even greater, less than 1 percent. Both countries shared the ultimate benefit of winning the Cold War; deterrence worked, saving the truly great financial costs of war and the incalculable costs in human blood. Japan’s economy grew from ashes to riches during the Cold War. By 1980, Japan had become an economic superpower. Some critics argued that Japan was playing by different rules and was threatening America’s future.3 More certain was the fact that the commitment of the United States and Japan to cooperate together militarily in 1981 had a great impact in Moscow, more than it did in Washington, DC, and Tokyo. The credible commitment of the first and second largest economies in the world to cooperate together militarily to prevent the third largest economy from interrupting the continuation and growth of the first two convinced the likes of Messrs Gorbachev and Shevardnadze that the Soviet Union had to change course. Gorbachev and Shevardnadze failed, but the United States and Japan succeeded. And in the post-Cold War era the two allies now have the opportunity, almost totally unexpected as recently as seven years ago, to push the market economic system into the vast reaches of the former Soviet Union and into an economically modernizing China, as well as to achieve a stable peace in the Middle East. Even if only the status quo – stability but little or no progress – in the former Marxist– Leninist world is achieved, the United States and Japan will continue as economic powerhouses. If further market expansion occurs, all nations that participate will profit, but the United States and Japan could go from very rich to even more so, likely in a very dramatic fashion.

Shared national interest between the US and Japan Japan’s national interest from 1945 through the decade of the 1950s and into the 1960s was far different from that of the United States. Japan was struggling to


James E. Auer

survive and it was not until the 1970s that Japan’s post-war “miracle” became obvious. Despite many differences from the United States in language, culture, history, and tradition, Japan’s goals since the 1970s – no territorial ambitions and prosperity through domestic and international commerce – became increasingly similar to those of the United States, as proclaimed by President Truman and the Congress in 1945. During the Cold War, Japan’s major opposition party, the Japan Socialist Party (JSP), which now calls itself the Social Democratic Party of Japan (SDPJ), and some of the progressive Japanese media alleged that Japan was endangered by US global strategy, i.e. that the United States and the Soviet Union would become involved in a war and Japan would be destroyed owing to the presence of American bases on Japanese soil. Neither the Japanese government nor the majority of the public were swayed by this argument. Without the presence of the United States, Japan would have quickly fallen under Soviet influence. Had the Soviet Union triumphed over the United States, Japan’s fate would have also been sealed. Japan’s interests were ideally served by America’s post-war goals as stated above. Japan’s independence was guaranteed and Japan’s economy recovered and grew. Throughout the Cold War, US and Japanese foreign and defense policies were so closely linked that it was sometimes said that Tokyo was merely following Washington. But America’s success was a very positive outcome for Japan. Owing to US insistence, Japan was not divided as were Germany and Korea. The United States administered a benevolent occupation which accomplished political and land reforms and laid the basis for the improvement in Japanese business. Under the US security umbrella, Japan could concentrate on economic rebuilding. The United States often had more difficulty in coordinating political and military relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Europe than with Japan, probably because dealing with one country was easier than dealing with a number of countries, especially given the nature of some European allies such as France. US economic assistance to Japan was phased out as Japan’s economy grew, and in 1978 Japan began a voluntary program to assume the labor and facilities costs of US military forces in Japan (USFJ). Twenty years later, these Japanese financial contributions, far in excess of those required under the US– Japan treaty arrangement, exceeded 3 billion dollars annually, an average of more than $100,000 per USFJ service person – by far the most generous host nation support arrangement the United States has ever enjoyed in any country. The reason why the United States bore the economic costs vis-à-vis Japan during the first two decades after the end of World War II, and why Japan has increasingly assumed them since, is not that first one side and now the other likes each other so much. It was and is simply a matter of national interest. Although the Japanese government has argued at home that the USFJ constitutes America’s contribution to defending Japan and some American Congressmen have complained that Japan “free rides” on the US defense budget, the United States does not and should not station in excess of 40,000 service people in Japan out of benevolence. They should only be there if it is in America’s national interest to

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bring about a stable Pacific for the good of America’s economic well-being. Similarly, Japan should not permit the presence of the USFJ, a choice Japan did not have prior to 1970, unless it makes sense from Japan’s national interest point of view. That the level of the USFJ has been maintained substantially since the end of the Cold War, despite large cutbacks at home and in Europe, and that Japan’s generous financial support has dramatically increased even more in the 1990s are evidence of the continuity of mutual appreciation for the benefits and commonalty of national goals.

Essential role of the US in Northeast Asia Both during the Cold War and after, the presence of US military forces in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans has played a stabilizing role. In 1989, at a conference of Americans, Japanese, and Southeast Asians in Singapore looking at the 1990s and beyond,4 the Southeast Asian representatives were unanimous in expressing support for the continued presence of the US military in the region. One Southeast Asian even said that, if all US and Soviet forces were to be withdrawn from Europe and if the Soviets were to unilaterally withdraw all their forces from the Pacific, the United States should maintain the status quo. Should the United States withdraw, he and other Southeast Asians argued, a vacuum would be created which the Soviets, the Chinese, or the Japanese would be obligated to fill; an outcome, it was argued, which would be worse for everyone. In 1989, the attendants at the Singapore conference did not envision the dramatic changes about to occur in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), but the assessment remains valid. Without the US presence, the Soviet Union would have dominated Northeast Asia during the Cold War, and it now appears increasingly that China would do so in the future. With the US present, today’s North Korea remains a serious concern rather than a military threat; Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) can supplement US forces anywhere in Asia or take part in United Nations (UN) peace-keeping missions without raising concerns of a resurgence of Japanese militarism on the part of other Asian nations; and cooperative military training efforts among the United States, Japan, Korea, China, and Russia can be discussed toward the goal of giving the Chinese and Russian forces some roles without becoming a military threat.

US–Japanese defense relations during the Cold War Japan’s “free ride” in defense and US–Japanese trade frictions have been the subject of press attention in bilateral relations for the past two decades; but, increasingly since the 1980s, US–Japanese defense ties have been a positive story which is not nearly as well known as it should be. Western commentaries on Japan sometimes contain statements such as “if Japan decides to rearm” or speak ominously of what will happen “when Japan eventually rearms” as if they failed to recognize that the Japanese rearmament, by American fiat, began in 1950.


James E. Auer

General MacArthur directed his staff in 1946 to write a Japanese model constitution outlawing Japanese armed forces “even for preserving its own security.”5 That was done; Japanese officials were shocked; but many in Japan felt a sense of relief and the constitution which came into effect in 1947 proved to be quite popular. Following the outbreak of the Korean War and the dispatch of many of the USFJ to Korea, General MacArthur changed his mind quite dramatically and ordered Japan to form a “national police reserve” (keisatsu yobitai), a 75,000man force manned by former Imperial Army and Navy officers of the rank of colonel and below and equipped with tanks, howitzers, bazookas, and other types of equipment not ordinarily associated with a police force. From 1950 onwards, General MacArthur began to say that Japan’s constitution outlawed only offensive, not defensive, force. Had Japan decided to do so, it could have taken the course of the United States and many other countries following the proscription of war by the 1928 Kellogg–Briand Pact, which the US Senate reduced to being meaningless by ratifying the pact so that only self-declared wars of aggression were outlawed. But Japan tried to live within the spirit of its constitution by (1) possessing only weapons which had primarily “defensive” capability, e.g. fighter-interceptor aircraft rather than heavy bombers; (2) trying to distinguish between “individual nation” and “collective” self-defense; and (3) refusing to allow the JSDF to “go abroad” for collective self-defense operations. From 1952 to 1970, unless Japan had agreed to maintain some type of defensive military forces, the United States would not have permitted the occupation of Japan to come to an end nor would it have continued the original security treaty of 1952 under which the United States could store any type of weapons in Japan and wage war without Japanese consent from US bases there. But, since the 1970s, Japan has been free, but has declined to return to MacArthur’s original view, which is still supported by some of the mass media and – until September 1994 – by the Socialist Party, the largest opponent of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from 1955 to 1993. In 1971, Japan could have, for the first time, asked the United States to remove its troops from Japan, and Japan could have gone back to the literal interpretation of its constitution, outlawing all military, and even defensive, forces. The United States would not have been happy with such a decision, but the United States would have complied, i.e. the United States would not have refused to go home and would not have used force to stay in Japan. But Japan did not ask the United States to leave in 1971. Japan’s economy was now well on the road to recovery, and in the 1970s Soviet military power began to appear in Asia as well as in Europe. From the mid-1970s, some Japanese began to worry that the United States might withdraw from all of Asia in the same way that it left Vietnam, and Japan began to seek ever closer military ties with the United States. In 1981, the Japanese Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki accepted the US President Ronald Reagan’s request for a division of defense responsibilities between the two countries. Under Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, moreover, Japan built a high-technology air defense and anti-submarine network around the Japanese

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archipelago, which made undetected Soviet air and maritime entry to the Pacific Ocean virtually impossible. Although many Americans and Japanese may not have realized the significance of what President Reagan and Prime Minister Suzuki agreed to do in 1981, and what Prime Minister Nakasone made a reality for Japan throughout the 1980s, the Soviet civilian and military leadership took sharp notice. Interviews with former Soviet military leaders indicate the strong impact of US forward deployments in the Pacific. Also, as noted above, the decision of the two largest economic powers in the world, the United States and Japan, to cooperate together militarily impacted on civilian leaders such as Messrs Gorbachev and Shevardnadze, who began to recognize that a radical change in Soviet foreign and economic policy was necessary. The US role in this victory of deterrence was critical. Without the United States, Japan would have certainly succumbed to nuclear blackmail from Moscow. However, not nearly enough Americans and Japanese appreciate the role that Japan’s high-technology air defense and anti-submarine network played, nor do they appreciate the strong influence of the overall commitment of the world’s two largest economies. Japan’s defense came into its own, not as an autonomous military power but as an effective complement to US capabilities in the Pacific.

Post-Cold War US Asian policy and neutrality of the DPRK The specific source of the threat during the Cold War may have been the Soviet Union, but the real threat to America and Japan from the Far Eastern-based Soviet military was the interruption of stability in the Pacific. Such stability remains threatened during the post-Cold War world. If the world is moving toward global capitalism, which the end of Marxism–Leninism in the USSR and economic developments in China suggest might be the case, the potential for growth in the world economy in general, and in the US and Japanese powerhouses in particular, is great. The failure of political leaders in the United States and Japan to understand and articulate the huge vested interests that the two countries have in insuring their present and even greater potential future economic prowess against interruption is disappointing. The review of the 1978 US–Japan Guidelines for Defense Cooperation, which was completed in September 1997, left unclear what role Japan could play in future crises in the Asia-Pacific region. Although support for the mutual security treaty officially remains strong in Washington and Tokyo, American public support is not strong enough to withstand a major crisis that would result in American casualties but no Japanese risk. A new paradigm for US Asian policy could involve adapting the US–Japan security treaty to the post-Cold War world. Such adaptation could require Washington and Tokyo to acknowledge: (1) that the national security interests of both countries are intimately involved with threats to peace and security throughout the Pacific Basin, (2) that they intend to consult together to deal with these threats on a close and continuing basis, and (3) that the efforts of all Pacific nations are necessary for peace.


James E. Auer

More specifically, both the United States and Japan, while maintaining their close relationship based on a strong and credible US Pacific presence, could attempt, on a priority basis, (1) to welcome the participation of Korea, Russia, and China in an escalating order of regional security discussions, confidencebuilding measures, including exchange visits by military delegations, multilateral military training exercises, and other transparency modalities, and (2) to broaden Japan’s area of defense operations to include the entire Pacific Basin and UN peace-keeping operations. One of the greatest blows that the Japan Socialist Party experienced during the Cold War came when Zhou Enlai endorsed the US–Japan security treaty and the expansion of the JSDF. Although these Chinese actions were directed against the Soviet Union, they demonstrate that China understood quite well the nature of the US–Japan defense cooperation and against which threat the United States and Japan were defensively deployed. Just as the United States under Richard Nixon was willing to open to China, a course that Japan also pursued quickly thereafter under Kakuei Tanaka, it is conceivable that the United States and Japan would consider a DPRK proclamation of neutrality, followed by demonstrable signs over a period of several years of living up to the responsibilities of a neutral nation, as being compatible with US– Japanese security goals. And as long as the United States and Japan fully coordinate their views with the ROK, the idea of DPRK neutrality, at least in the short- and medium-term future, might not meet undue resistance. Although support for North Korea’s neutrality from China and Russia is desirable and not necessarily unlikely, this chapter argues that the support of the United States and Japan are particularly critical. If North Korean neutrality were supported by China and Russia and opposed by the United States and Japan, stability would not be guaranteed. On the other hand, if the United States and Japan, and hopefully South Korea as well, supported the neutrality of the DPRK, even without Chinese and/or Russian support, the stability of Northeast Asia would improve given the removal of the greatest near-term concern of instability in the region. Rather than being an alliance for war, the US–Japan security treaty is a prostability insurance policy with which the neutrality of the DPRK need not be in conflict. Over the long term, if a neutral DPRK pursued neither military aggression against the ROK nor the export of technology for biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, the DPRK could be removed as an obstacle to the purposes for which the US–Japan security treaty has existed and continues today.

Notes 1 2 3

House Concurrent Resolution No. 25, 78th Congress, 1st Session; sponsored by Congressman J. William Fulbright of Arkansas; passed by the House of Representatives, 21 September 1943, Congressional Record, vol. 89, p. 7729. Harry S Truman, “Address of President Harry S Truman at New York, 27 October 1945,” Department of State Bulletin, 1945, vol. 13, pp. 653–656. The article by Robert Neff and Paul Magnusson, “Rethinking Japan,” Business Week,

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4 5


1989, 7 August, pp. 44–45, named Professor Chalmers Johnson of the University of California at San Diego as “revisionism’s intellectual godfather” and brought wide attention to ex-Reagan trade official Clyde V. Prestowitz’s 1988 book, Trading Places: How We Are Giving Our Future to Japan and How to Reclaim It, New York: Basic Books; Dutch journalist Karel van Wolferen’s 1989 book, The Enigma of Japanese Power, New York: Alfred A. Knopf; and journalist James Fallows’ 1989 cover story, “Containing Japan,” Atlantic Monthly, 1989, issue 263 (May), pp. 40–55 Pacific Forum and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Conference, “Southeast Asia, Japan, and the United States: constructive engagement in the decade ahead,” Singapore, 1989, 9–11 May. Osamu Nishi, The Constitution and the National Defense Law System in Japan, Tokyo: Seibundo, 1987, pp. 7–8.


China and the future of the Korean Peninsula Samuel S. Kim

Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future (Qianshi bu wang, houshi zhi shi) An old Chinese saying

Changing perceptions and realities Since the end of the Cold War, China (the People’s Republic of China; PRC) and North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; DPRK), two of the four remaining socialist countries in the world, have encountered remarkable shifts in mainstream perceptions in the West, particularly in the United States, of what the future now holds for them. On the one hand, the perception of China as a pariah and disintegrating state on a Soviet-style declining trajectory in the early post-Tiananmen years has been replaced by the “rise of China” chorus. No longer viewed as a pariah state, China, with the world’s fastest growing economy, is now considered to be a rapidly rising power, catalyzing the debate about how well the post-Cold War international system can accommodate another up-and-coming superpower. At least in the United States, we are continually being told that China poses the world’s most serious challenge in the transition from the Cold War to a post-Cold War era. On the other hand, North Korea is once again in the news as the site of East Asia’s potentially most dangerous crisis, seemingly ripe for explosion or implosion. Such a dire assessment stems from the troubling fact that the DPRK has suffered a rapid succession of external shocks – the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the end of both the Cold War and superpower rivalry, the demise of the Soviet Union and international communism, Moscow–Seoul normalization, and Beijing–Seoul normalization – on top of a series of seemingly fatal internal woes – the death of its founder, the “eternal president” Kim Il-sung, a continuing downward spiral of industrial production, shrinking trade, and a falling human development index (a rising misery index). In 1993–1994, Pyongyang captured global attention because its nuclear brinkmanship led to the first nuclear proliferation crisis of the postCold War era. In the latter half of the 1990s with an increasing number of people in the northeastern provinces either falling into a slow-motion famine-cum-triage

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mode at home or defecting to China as food refugees, the focus has shifted to whether the DPRK has any future. Indeed, the future of post-Kim Il-sung North Korea – whether it will survive or collapse, slowly or suddenly – has become a favorite topic of debate. Despite the hype and inflated claims about the impending collapse, what lies ahead for the Korean Peninsula is far from obvious. In the wake of Kim Il-sung’s death in July 1994, for instance, many predicted that the DPRK would collapse within six months or that it would be no more than three years before Korea experienced a German-style reunification by absorption.1 China, by dint of its demographic weight, its sheer physical size, its cultural and civilizational influence, its nuclear arsenal, and its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, is virtually guaranteed a place in the Korean endgame, even if its willingness to make a constructive contribution is debatable. With the rapid growth of China’s economic and military power in the post-Mao era, together with its extensive security perimeter in the Asia-Pacific region and its still incomplete unification, there is little doubt that the future of the global order, and especially of the Northeast Asian regional order, is closely tied to the future of China. At the same time, the Korean Peninsula’s geostrategic importance to China’s security thinking and strategy remains unequaled. History and geography, and more recently the dynamic East Asian political economy, have combined to make the peninsula a central geostrategic and geoeconomic concern of post-Mao Chinese foreign policy. Historically, invasions of China through the Northeast Asian corridor led directly to the establishment of two major non-Han dynasties – the Yuan (1271–1368) by the Mongols and the Qing (1644–1911) by the Manchu. During the “century of national humiliation” (1841–1941) as well, the primary threats to Chinese political and territorial integrity centered on this region, i.e. czarist Russia’s grab of large chunks of territory, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894– 1895, and the Japanese occupation and establishment of the Manchukuo puppet regime (1932–1945) in northeastern China and parts of Inner Mongolia. Even during the PRC’s lifetime, Beijing has fought two wars in this area: the Korean War (1950–1953) and a brief but bloody border war with the Soviet Union (1969). Against this backdrop, how China responds to the Korean issue in its various contentious manifestations is a key indicator of its emerging role in the transition from the bipolar to a multipolar regional and global order. Indeed, China can be said to have become the most important yet most unpredictable external factor in the shaping of North Korea’s future – whether it will survive or collapse or, more accurately, whether it will move from here to there following a system-maintaining, system-reforming, or system-collapsing trajectory. In several respects, China’s North Korea policy is made to order for exploring the interplay between China and the outside world – how external factors shape Chinese international conduct, on the one hand, and how Chinese international conduct itself impacts on the structures and processes of post-Cold War East Asian regional and global politics, on the other. There is no mistaking the extraordinary refractory effect of the Korean Peninsula on great-power politics in Northeast Asia and beyond. Even today, in the so-called post-Cold War era, and almost half


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a century after the cease-fire, all four major global and regional powers – China, Russia, Japan, and the United States – view the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) as a powder keg, ready to burst into armed conflict. The Korean Peninsula uniquely combines the economic and technological capabilities to engage in a nuclear arms race and deep-seated, albeit currently attenuated, historical and national-identity enmities. The uneasy abutment of the two Chinas and the two Koreas has entangled the four in Northeast Asian Cold War geopolitics over the years. Not surprisingly, Chinese strategic thinkers still regard North Korea as China’s vital strategic shield.

Three scenarios of North Korea’s future Predicting the future of post-Deng China or post-Kim Il-sung North Korea and the future of Sino-DPRK relations, always hazardous, has never been more difficult than it is today, when both China and North Korea are undergoing profound social, economic, and ecological changes even as the global system to which both countries are connected undergoes a structural and political transformation. If nothing else, the recent debate on China has underscored the widespread interest in and great uncertainties about its emerging role in international relations, i.e. its future capabilities and foreign-policy orientation and behavior. One thing remains reasonably sure: China – or, more accurately, China’s future role – will be a primary determinant of the future of the Asia-Pacific region in general and of the Korean Peninsula in particular. It is always difficult to make predictions about international relations. The conceptual and methodological difficulties involved in establishing and validating general laws of international relations with predictive power are legion.2 Recent momentous changes in world politics – the end of the Cold War, the demise of the Soviet Union, and German reunification – are unprecedented not only in their nature, scope, and rapidity but also in their unpredictability. To a significant degree, the shaping of world politics has become path-dependent, since certain unexpected events can easily force it along quite different trajectories. Hence, past generalizations can no longer provide a sure guide to the future, and the future of world politics will not necessarily resemble the past if the generalizations themselves are no longer valid.3 In other words, a “past experience” (such as the Munich appeasement, or the Korean or Vietnam Wars) can no longer serve as a reliable road map for the future, because the threats of the future will bear little, if any, resemblance to the threats of the past. In a time of rapid and unpredictable change, it is easy to succumb to the fallacy of premature specificity regarding China’s future – for example, China as a superpower – or future Sino-DPRK relations. Having said that, however, we may proceed from the premise that how the outside world, especially Beijing and Washington, responds to Pyongyang is closely linked to how North Korea responds to the outside world. The difficulties of predicting North Korea’s future are directly connected to the difficulties of predicting the future of global politics in general, and East Asian international relations in particular, since the future of any country – especially a small state

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such as North Korea, situated at the strategic crossroads in Northeast Asia where the United States, China, Russia, and Japan uneasily meet and interact – will be significantly affected by the structures of regional and global politics that prevail in an increasingly interdependent and interactive world. To say that North Korea’s future is unpredictable is to say that its future is malleable, not predetermined. Paradoxically, the possibilities of shaping a preferred future are embedded in the inherent difficulties of prediction in social science inquiry. Still, in order to minimize the difficulties of prediction and clarify the gap between the actual (or probable) and the preferable (or potential), we need to rely on forecasting, not prediction. A prediction is generally made in terms of a specific outcome, whereas a forecast is made in terms of alternatives with varying degrees of probability.4 A forecast can help to foster a better understanding of the dynamics of the post-Kim Il-sung system or the dynamics of unfolding Sino-DPRK interactions by charting a range of future scenarios, even if it only points to possible egregious errors and sends us back to the drawing board to ascertain where and why they were made. To capture the dialectics of extrapolative forecasting and normative forecasting, we need to steer a clear course between the Scylla of utopian idealism and the Charybdis of conservative realism. There is a variety of what the French futurist Bertrand de Jouvenal called “futuribles” (possible futures). We may proceed from the premise that each of these is plausible if not comprehensive from a particular perspective, and that the either/or endism debate can be broadened by the appreciation that the future of North Korea is not providentially predetermined but is rather a product of selective human behavior. Nevertheless, we can identify at least three scenarios that span the spectrum of the possible: system-maintenance, system-reform, and systemcollapse scenarios. Here, I will shy away from “soft landing” and “hard landing,” popular terms for various Korean future scenarios whose meanings are not widely understood in the West, let alone in China. Soft landing may describe a scenario in which a system collapses as the result of a gradual reunification via absorption or asymmetrical negotiation, or a scenario in which a system is maintained by muddling through. The problem here is that what will collapse – an economy, a regime, a system, a state – is not specified. The collapse of an economy does not automatically lead to the collapse of the regime, system, or state. Of course, the collapse of an economy (whatever this may mean or however it is operationalized) could trigger the collapse of the regime, which could in turn trigger the collapse of the system, and so on, leading to the collapse of the state. But both in theory and in practice the state is most resilient, often surviving the collapse of the economy, the regime, and even the system. In the North Korean case, however, the Kim Il-sung system and the Kim Il-sung family state are so intertwined that it is difficult to imagine the state surviving the collapse of the system, if not the collapse of the economy and the regime. If the North Korean state survives system collapse, as happened in Eastern Europe, it will not be the state as we know it today.5 Hence, the main focus is on the North Korean system. The three scenarios sketched below should not be viewed as mutually exclusive, as one can flow into


Samuel S. Kim

another or vice versa; each can have more than one outcome. A system-maintaining scenario, for instance, may continue unchanged, or it may bring about outcomes that trigger a shift toward system reform or system collapse. The system-maintaining scenario The system-maintaining scenario envisions a high degree of continuity with the recent past, with the Kim Jong-il regime commanding firm control of ideology and policy as well as exercising multiple coping mechanisms. The main objective remains defensive as he seeks to prevent the total collapse of the system in the face of energy, food, and hard-currency crises. The formal politics of everyday life remains the same, as North Korea’s leaders continue to spout trumpery about the omnipotence of juche (self-reliance) ideology as the motive force “leading our country toward the strongest position in the world.” However, Kim Jong-il’s pronounced commitment to the system-maintaining approach would not prevent him from demonstrating tactical flexibility in a given situation. More specifically, this scenario would entail further “adjustment” measures, such as more vigorous promotion of the Rajin–Sonbong economic and trade zone; greater toleration of informal (black) markets; increasing international aid workers’ on-site monitoring access; and seeking closer links with the outside world in order to attract more foreign aid, capital, and investment. This scenario would not involve any relaxation of sociopolitical control, let alone political reform, other than the more frequent reshuffling of officials on the basis of performance as well as political loyalty. The viability of the systemmaintaining scenario depends largely on the extent to which the post-Kim Il-sung leadership can ride out the current economic difficulties. Despite all the booby traps on the long road to peace, it is not too far-fetched to imagine that the postKim Il-sung leadership would be able to keep the state on the system-maintaining trajectory for at least next five years. This would require mutually reinforcing “soft” policies from Washington, Tokyo, Seoul, and Beijing. Pyongyang would continue to carry out its nuclear obligations even while demonstrating greater tactical flexibility in its foreign economic policy. The extant sanctions and economic barriers would be removed at greater speed. Tokyo – always seeking equidistance between Seoul’s and Washington’s North Korea policies, trying not to lag too far behind Washington or to surge too far ahead of Seoul – would have to accelerate its normalization process and offer a substantial aid package. North– South economic relations would continue apace even without a major breakthrough in their political and security relationships. In the end, Beijing would be the first and last source of support for the system-maintaining approach, taking up the slack in bilateral and multilateral aid programs. The system-reforming scenario In the system-reforming scenario, North Korea would follow the post-Mao Chinese model of gradual but increasing reform and opening to the global political economy.

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula


The system-reforming scenario could come about as the result of either deepening systemic crisis or growing self-confidence. The deepening system crisis might finally teach Kim Jong-il that more thoroughgoing reform and restructuring are necessary to arrest further economic decline and even avert system collapse. Alternatively, such a change of course might reflect growing confidence stemming from the modest success of the system-maintaining approach that a more extensive reform would not necessarily give rise to political and social instability. In any case, the system-reforming scenario would require such concomitant policies as (1) thorough restructuring of the systems of ownership and economic decisionmaking in Pyongyang, major agricultural reform coupled with a system of family ownership; (2) gradually extending the free trade and economic zone from the Rajin–Sonbong area to other eastern and western coastal cities, even some political reform measures linked to the functional requirements of a market-oriented but still state-led economy; (3) further opening to the global economic system, with Pyongyang joining (or allowed to join) all the key international economic institutions [e.g. the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Asian Development Bank]; (4) full normalization of relations with Washington preceded or accompanied by removal of all economic sanctions and barriers; (5) full normalization of relations with Tokyo, with a compensation package of about $8–10 billion including, for example, grants-in-aid, soft loans, and credits; (6) acceleration of the North–South rapprochement and even a peace treaty accompanied by considerable aid and greater inter-Korean economic cooperation; and (7) select and gradual demobilization of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to generate the labor force needed to fuel North Korea’s modernization of agriculture, light industry, and science and technology. Clearly, post-Kim Il-sung North Korea is no post-Mao China. North Korea obviously modeled its Rajin–Sonbong economic and trade zone (established in December 1991) on post-Mao China’s four special economic zones, in Shenzhen, Shantou, Xiamen, and Zhuhai. However, the situations in the two countries differ in many ways. First, there is an important difference in global geopolitical timing. Post-Mao China’s reform and opening occurred at the height of Cold War II, when anti-Soviet China enjoyed its maximum realpolitik leverage, as evidenced in Beijing’s easy entry into the World Bank and IMF in May 1980. Second, North Korea does not have the ten calamitous years of the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution to break away from. In his announcement of China’s open-door policy, Deng Xiaoping aptly attributed China’s backwardness and the slow pace of its modernization to its international isolation from the middle of the Ming dynasty to the Opium War, and from the Sino-Soviet split of the late 1950s to the Cultural Revolution. In other words, at the time of Deng Xiaoping’s ascendancy as China’s leader in December 1978, post-Mao China’s fortuitous combination of favorable domestic and external factors worked to fuel the born-again modernization-cumstatus drive. Third, there are not enough rich and enterprising overseas Koreans to generate the degree of foreign direct investment that post-Mao China has attracted. For North Korea, the closest functional equivalent of China’s overseas entrepreneurs is ethnic Koreans in Japan associated with the Chosen Soren, whose


Samuel S. Kim

membership and remittances to North Korea have registered negative growth rates in recent years. China in 1978–1979 had no foreign debts to speak of, whereas North Korea’s foreign debts are currently estimated at about $10–11 billion (as of 1999), and North Korea has one of the highest country-risk ratings in the world. Fourth, the propitious initial economic conditions that enabled post-Mao reformers to launch reform in the agricultural sector to free up and channel surplus agricultural labor into the emerging semiprivate light manufacturing and service sectors do not exist in the heavily industrialized and militarized North Korea. Moreover, if North Korea did decide on Chinese-style reform and opening, it would have to compete with China, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries in the global marketplace while being handicapped by low productivity, inadequate infrastructure, an unstable energy supply, a dismally low international credit rating, geographic and transportation isolation, ideological and bureaucratic constraints, and the uncertain future of the post-Kim Il-sung system. It is beyond doubt that extensive system reform and restructuring is needed. Lacking the charisma, authority, and power of his father – “the father of the nation” – Kim Jong-il would have to shift decisively from charismatic or revolutionary legitimation to performance-based legitimation (as South Korea’s Park Chunghee did in the early 1960s). Yet here Kim Jong-il would encounter a systemic catch-22 dilemma: saving the juche system would require destroying important parts of it. And yet, to depart from the ideological continuity of the system that Kim Il-sung created, developed, and passed onto his son is viewed not as a necessity for survival but as an ultimate betrayal of raison d’état. What accentuates North Korea’s systemic dilemma and national-identity angst is the rise of South Korea; the “illegitimate puppet” government in Seoul has almost won the unification game by surging so far ahead of the North in practically all dimensions of polity, giving credence to the possibility of a German-style hegemonic unification, a situation that neither post-Mao Chinese reformers nor Vietnamese reformers had to deal with. Still, a shift to the system-reforming scenario does not necessarily require new leadership or a paradigm shift; it could be catalyzed by the Kim Jong-il regime’s own assessment of the success or failure of the system-maintaining approach. It is possible that the system-reforming scenario, when faced with increasing political problems, such as China’s democratic spring in 1989, would quickly shift back to the more comfortable system-maintaining track. Alternatively, there is also the extremely remote possibility that the system-reforming scenario would give rise to a Gorbachev-like leader decisively shifting the gears from a system-reforming to a system-transforming direction. As matters stand today, the probability that the post-Kim Il-sung system will shift from the current systemmaintaining approach to the system-reforming approach is rather low. The system-collapsing scenario In the system-collapsing scenario, there would be sporadic food riots in many cities as the country moved perilously close to the brink of implosion. Relative deprivation – social actors’ perceived discrepancy between expectations and

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capabilities – is generally accepted as the necessary condition for violent civil conflict, but its likelihood and the magnitude of the resulting overt civil violence depend on the availability of mediating societal and institutional mechanisms. Whether this theory of relative deprivation applies to the North Korean case is debatable. As things stand, the mood of the North Korean people is best described as characterized not by an increased sense of deprivation ready to explode but by quiet alienation and combat fatigue. So far, the North Koreans have employed various coping mechanisms, such as scavenging for wild foods, selling household furniture, stealing, begging, and getting help from relatives in China’s northeastern area. However, in the system-collapsing scenario, things could change rapidly to bring about violent civil conflict. Such system collapse is not likely to come about simply because of poverty and repression. It is more likely to occur when the state’s control mechanisms and people’s coping mechanisms break down and the trickle of elite defectors, especially members of the police and the armed forces, becomes a flood; when an initial reform period of greater economic rejuvenation comes to a sudden halt and rising expectations of continued progress are dashed; and when the policy of studied aggressive moves against the South goes seriously awry. In such a scenario, Pyongyang would ask for more and more international aid, but would get less and less. International humanitarian aid would trickle in to feed starving people, but would serve only as a band-aid for a country on a tenuous, increasingly ineffective external life-support system. Pyongyang would launch another round of brinkmanship diplomacy, threatening to go nuclear again, only to incur sanctions by the United Nations (UN) Security Council (with China abstaining or not participating in the vote). The tensions in the DMZ would rise, with a North–South exchange of charges and counter-charges. For all Pyongyang’s devotion to juche ideology and “socialism our style,” the symptoms of system crisis would become increasingly manifest: the state’s growing involvement in criminal money-making and money-laundering activities, public executions of criminals, traitors, and spies, and a flurry of elite defections and even a massive exodus of refugees. Beijing would sit idly by, saying that it had given all the help that its limited capacity allowed. Obviously, any system-degenerating scenario opens up two alternative possibilities – collapse of the state, or a last-minute rescue achieved by signing a peace treaty with South Korea guaranteed by Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, and Moscow, and accompanied by comprehensive aid packages from Seoul and Tokyo and a promise from Washington of a comprehensive multilateral aid package from the World Bank and the Asia Development Bank. The system-degenerating-cumcollapsing scenario comprises many stages; it is a state-collapsing process in slow motion. If not rectified, what starts as system collapse might end as state collapse. Indeed, such a process actually began in Eastern Europe in the early 1980s, culminating in system collapse in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But the domestic and external factors that were present in Eastern Europe – the vibrant civil society and the external serendipity (Gorbachev) factor – are neither present nor readily reproducible in North Korea today.


Samuel S. Kim

Most system-collapsing scenarios make the mistake of premature economic reductionism based on the misleading equation of economic breakdown with system collapse, and even the collapse of the North Korean state. It is also widely – and wrongly – assumed that the collapse of the North Korean regime would ipso facto lead to a German-style reunification by absorption: the absorption of North Korea into the more prosperous and democratic South Korea. But economic breakdown is not the same as the collapse of a state. The demise of the former Soviet Union was really no more and no less than the collapse of the Soviet Union as a superpower and as a system, not the disappearance of the Soviet Unionturned-Russia as a state. More tellingly, many extremely poor developing countries lacking the totalitarian control mechanisms possessed by North Korea inch along with sluggish or even negative rates of economic growth despite rampant bureaucratic corruption, ineffective or divided leadership, and endemic social unrest. And yet these states do not collapse, let alone disappear, partly because basic human needs are met with international humanitarian aid and partly because social unrest and political opposition do not overwhelm the control or coping mechanisms of the state. Any system-collapsing scenario, especially if it involves the collapse of North Korea as a separate state, is less likely if only because North Korea would not allow a collapse without putting up a fight and creating a mess that no neighboring power could or would want to clean up. System-collapsing scenarios often fail to take into account the DPRK’s 1 million military personnel and its enormous asymmetrical capabilities. As of mid-2000, the North Korean armed forces are the world’s fifth largest, its ground forces are the world’s third largest, and its special operations forces are the world’s largest. Some 6 million reserves supplement the active duty personnel. Moreover, 70 percent of its active force – 700,000 troops, 8,000 artillery systems, and 2,000 tanks – is forward deployed near the DMZ, and Seoul – the political, economic, social, and cultural heartland of South Korea – lies only 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the DMZ.6 Indeed, the peaceful accommodation or demobilization of the DPRK military in a unified Korea would pose a problem of unprecedented magnitude, which will give Pyongyang considerable leverage in any unification scenario.

China’s evolving perspectives and policies In order to appraise the changing relationship between China and North Korea, it is useful to begin with China’s two-Koreas decision. Even though the two-Koreas decision was made in 1992, before the “rise of China” and “collapse of North Korea” debates, and as such does not ipso facto provide a guide for the future, the decision-making process nonetheless reveals Beijing’s evolving perspectives on and interests in the Korean Peninsula. Crossing the diplomatic Rubicon In the post-Mao era, China’s Korea policy has evolved through several phases –

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula


from the familiar one-Korea (pro-Pyongyang) policy, to a one-Korea de jure and two-Koreas de facto policy, and finally to a two-Koreas de facto and de jure policy. Unlike China’s decision in October 1950 to intervene in the Korean War, the 1992 decision was the culmination of a gradual process of adjusting post-Mao foreign policy to the logic of the changing domestic, regional, and global situations during the long Deng Xiaoping era (1978–1992) in the context of the two Koreas’ quest for international legitimation. The basic causes for China’s two-Koreas decision were largely internal – the rise of Deng Xiaoping as the paramount leader at the Third Plenum in late 1978, and the new policy of reform and opening to the outside world. China’s Korea policy was part of a broader strategy. The realization and the timing of the normalization decision were largely the result of changes in China’s external security environment. The central challenge of post-Mao foreign policy, however, remained the same: how to make the outside world, especially East Asia, safe and congenial for China’s born-again modernization-cum-status drive. Among other things, China had to adjust its Korea policy to fit changing regional and global circumstances. What were the changing external systemic factors – peninsular, regional, and global – that called for Beijing’s response? Moscow, Seoul, Pyongyang, Taipei, Washington, and Tokyo were all involved, at different stages and to varying degrees, in the reshaping of China’s external environment, calling for a major readjustment of China’s one-Korea policy. China’s changing perception of and response to the Korean Peninsula reflected three main concerns. First, China still viewed the Korean Peninsula as an integral part of the external security environment, and therefore nothing was more important than peace and stability on this geostrategic crossroads of Northeast Asia. The Korean Peninsula offered ample opportunities for demonstrating China’s putatively indispensable role in the shaping of a new Northeast Asian order. To an extraordinary extent, the Korean Peninsula was, and remains, China’s primary arena for achieving its regional and global roles. Second, China saw South Korea, being one of the four East Asian tigers, as a fitting model for China’s state-led developmental strategy, as well as an added source of support for China’s modernization drive. Increasingly, China viewed South Korea as a potential partner to be co-opted in countering American economic pressure or even Japanese hegemony in East Asia. Third, China wanted a Korea – divided or united – that posed no challenge of any kind to the legitimacy of the PRC as a socialist state and a multinational empire. More than any other factor, Gorbachev’s Soviet Union shaped the strategic environment that allowed China to move to a two-Koreas policy – through the ending of Cold War bipolarity, Sino-Soviet renormalization, and Soviet–ROK normalization. By addressing nearly all of China’s and America’s security concerns through a series of unprecedented actions, Gorbachev removed beyond recall the strategic raison d’être of the Sino-Soviet-US triangle. When the Sino-Soviet conflict ended, so did the logic of the strategic triangle and Sino-Soviet competition in North Korea. The rapid progress in Moscow–Seoul relations, coupled with an equally rapid decompression of Moscow–Pyongyang relations, has taken the sting


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out of the long-standing Sino-Soviet ideological and geopolitical rivalry over North Korea. With the end of Cold War bipolarity, Pyongyang’s leverage in Moscow and Beijing has almost completely vanished. For China, the decisive Soviet tilt toward Seoul in 1990 provided an escape from the entrapment of its one-Korea policy, or at least a convenient cover for its own shift from a one-Korea to a two-Koreas policy two years later, while at the same forcing Pyongyang to view its quest for absolute legitimation more realistically. If Gorbachev’s Soviet Union had the greatest restructuring impact on China’s external security environment and its strategic context, Seoul’s nordpolitik had a major impact on Beijing’s analysis of the costs and the benefits of maintaining its one-Korea policy. Pyongyang’s quest for absolute international legitimation had to be dissociated from Beijing’s own quest for absolute international legitimation (one-country/ two-systems formula) before Beijing could start normalization talks with Seoul. In 1990 and 1991, Beijing seized several opportunities to assure Pyongyang that their “traditional friendship” and “revolutionary loyalty” would endure for many generations while at the same time responding to Seoul’s repeated diplomatic prodding with the familiar refrain of “Conditions are not ripe.” Against this backdrop, Seoul’s all-out campaign for UN membership came as a kind of blessing in disguise. The China factor was certainly one of the major determinants, and perhaps the most crucial, of the reversal of Pyongyang’s principled opposition to the separatebut-equal membership formula. Premier Li Peng’s state visit to Pyongyang in May 1991 confirmed what had been widely suspected in diplomatic circles: Beijing had managed to extract Pyongyang’s grudging acceptance of the inevitable. Seoul’s UN membership would soon be a reality, and Beijing would not permit Pyongyang to dictate its voting behavior in the UN Security Council, especially on an issue such as the separate-but-equal membership formula, which enjoyed the support of an overwhelming majority of UN member states. Apparently, Premier Li Peng persuaded President Kim Il-sung that, based on a cogent cost–benefit analysis, the costs of Seoul’s sole entry would be too high for Pyongyang to bear, whereas Pyongyang’s UN membership would bring about multiple benefits, including increased chances of diplomatic recognition from more countries around the world – particularly Japan and the United States – and enhanced eligibility for a variety of multilateral aid – financial, scientific, and technological – from the United Nations and specialized agencies. Still, from Beijing’s perspective, the major benefit is a plausible legal and diplomatic basis for differentiating a divided China from a divided Korea; there is only one China in the state-centric world of international organizations, including the United Nations, but there are now two Koreas de facto and de jure universally recognized and legitimated not only by the world organization but also by more than 100 countries. As South Korea’s former foreign minister Han Sung-Joo aptly put it, “Beijing succeeded in creating a kind of ‘new math’ whereby for Korea, one plus one equaled two, while for China, one plus one was still one!”7

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula


Clearly, UN membership for both Koreas, more than any other single factor, enabled Beijing to overcome Pyongyang’s one-Korea angst and Taipei’s twoChina flexible diplomacy. The stepping up of Sino-North Korean military cooperation was the price Beijing had to pay for gaining Pyongyang’s grudging acceptance of China’s two-Koreas policy and its shift from an absolute legitimation-via-reunification strategy to the Stalinist “socialism in one country” strategy.8 In addition, the state of inter-Korean relations also enabled Sino-ROK normalization talks to begin. The seven-month period from September 1991 to April 1992 was a remarkable finale of the prime ministerial-level inter-Korean talks: the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation Between the South and the North, signed on 13 December 1991 and brought into force as of 19 February 1992, and the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, signed on 31 December 1992 and brought into force as of 19 February 1992. Another unspoken assumption underlying Beijing’s two-Koreas decision was related to China’s role in the shaping of a new order in East Asia after the demise of the Soviet Union. Having lost the vaunted card in the strategic triangle to magnify its leverage in global politics, Beijing started mending fences with its Asian neighbors. During much of the Cold War, China’s regional policy was a stepchild of its global superpower policy. All the turning points in Chinese foreign policy, although instantly reverberating throughout the entire region, especially the Korean Peninsula, concerned the United States or the Soviet Union. Before Tiananmen, China was a regional power without a regional policy or identity, as every regional conflict, including its invasion of Vietnam in 1979, was framed and justified in terms of global-security imperatives and not in terms of bilateral or even regional conflict. In the post-Tiananmen period, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Chinese foreign policy became more Asia-centric. To recognize Seoul, and thus to isolate Taiwan further, became an integral part of China’s Asia-centric foreign-policy reorientation. An example of the extraordinary lengths to which Beijing went to soothe Pyongyang’s one-Korea angst was Foreign Minister Qian’s secret trip to Pyongyang in mid-1992. The aim of the trip was to give a detailed advance report to Kim Il-sung on the progress of Sino-ROK normalization talks as well as to assure the “Great Leader” that PRC–ROK normalization would help to accelerate Pyongyang’s own normalization talks with Tokyo and Washington, to stabilize the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and above all to contribute to North Korea’s system maintenance. In the end, Qian managed to obtain Kim’s grudging understanding, if not full acceptance, of China’s normalization decision, and from this point the normalization talks gained momentum. From May 1989 to August 1992, beefing up ideological, diplomatic, and security ties with North Korea through a flurry of mutual visits, while at the same time upgrading relations with South Korea, China gradually overcame the Tiananmen blues in the midst of the deepening global communist crisis.


Samuel S. Kim

Coping with the Korean unification challenge August 1992 did not mark the finalization of China’s two-Koreas policy; it merely marked the culmination of a protracted decision-making process and the beginning of implementing – and remaking – the two-Koreas policy on multiple chessboards. Despite the “resolution” of the nuclear crisis with the 1994 US–DPRK Agreed Framework, North Korea became East Asia’s time bomb, seemingly ready to explode in China’s strategic backyard. The onset of a deepening systemic crisis, reflecting and amplifying the implosion of the economy, has brought about farreaching ramifications for political stability and even regime survival. As a result, the question of Korean reunification has found its way back to the future of the emerging East Asian order. It is important to recognize that China’s thinking on Korean unification, far from being cast in stone, changes as the domestic, Northeast Asian regional, and global situations – including perhaps most importantly the state of Sino-American relations and the emerging role of the United States in Northeast Asian and Korean Peninsular affairs – evolve. In the prenormalization period, the litmus test by which Seoul assessed Beijing’s Korea policy was the degree to which China supported either Korean unification North Korean-style or peace and stability on the peninsula through the peaceful coexistence of the two Koreas. It was only with Beijing’s formal normalization decision in August 1992 that China came to be viewed as favoring the status quo. In 1993, Chen Qimao, a leading Chinese international relations scholar and former president of the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, authoritatively stated China’s position on the Korean unification issue in the following terms: China supports President Kim Il-sung’s plan to reunify North and South Korea in a Confederal republic of Koryo under the principle of “one country, one nation; two systems, two governments.” This is not only because of China’s traditional friendship with North Korea but also because the Chinese leadership believes this policy meets the current situation of Korea and supports Korea’s national interest as well as the peace and stability of the region. By contrast, a dramatic change – which would be very dangerous and could easily turn into a conflict, even a war – would be a disaster for the Korean nation. Further, it would threaten not only China’s security but the security of the entire AsiaPacific region and even the world as well.9 Put differently, China now wanted to have the Korean unification cake and eat it too by supporting the peaceful coexistence of the two Koreas under the cover of Kim Il-sung’s “Confederal” formula of “one country, one nation; two systems, two governments” – a political and legal oxymoron – and opposing any “dramatic change” (i.e. a German-style Korean reunification) as the most desirable and feasible way of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. According to a major cross-national opinion survey in 1995 involving fifty Koreanists – five each from the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and Germany, as well as twenty-

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula


five from South Korea – there was general agreement that Korean reunification would eventually occur, with 2.1 percent of the respondents predicting that it would occur within one year (1996); 8.3 percent, before 2000; 29.2 percent, in 2001–5; 20.8 percent, in 2006–10; 16.7 percent, in 2011–15; and 16.3 percent, after 2015. That is, half of those surveyed predicted that Korean reunification would occur during the first decade of the twenty-first century. As if to confirm China’s suspicion of America’s pro-unification hegemonic policy and China’s anti-unification realpolitik, the United States and China occupy opposite extremes on Korean reunification.10 A more recent survey, conducted between December 1996 and August 1997, shows that “the Chinese tended to be most conservative about [Korean] unification, in the hope that the status quo could be maintained for a considerable period of time.”11 Given its realpolitik perspective and policy priorities, Beijing takes such a skeptical view of Korean reunification for several reasons. It is hardly surprising that post-Tiananmen China defines the post-Cold War global and regional situation in the realpolitik terms of how it affects Beijing’s internal threats as well as threats from abroad. “The major challenge China will have to face and respond to between now and the year 2010 is not global interdependence,” we are told, “but the concerted anti-China Western plot to split and weaken China by giving support to separatists in minority localities, by exaggerating and taking advantage of the contradictions between the center and the periphery, intraparty policy differences, and contradictions between the state and the society, and by exerting pressure on such issues as democracy and human rights.”12 Of particular concern to China as a multinational state is that local and regional ethnonational conflicts, previously overshadowed and repressed by global superpower contention, are breaking out in many parts of the world. According to Yan Xuetong, a leading strategic analyst, now that the threat of direct military invasion has subsided, China too is plagued by ethnic separatism and border disputes, with hypernationalism (jiduan minzuzhuyi) having already made extensive inroads among China’s separatists in the post-Cold War setting.13 By mid-1994, when Kim Il-sung suddenly passed away, Pyongyang’s reunification policy had turned into a kind of habit-driven trumpery devoid of any substantive relevance.14 The most pressing problem for Pyongyang – and for Beijing – now was how to avert system collapse, which would threaten not only the survival of the North Korean state but also China’s vital peripheral security environment. Faced with a changing correlation of forces between the two Koreas, Beijing has adopted a multitasking maxi–mini diplomacy. While the South Korean economy represents opportunities to be more fully exploited, the North Korean economy is a continuing burden that needs to be progressively lessened, while avoiding causing a catastrophic crash landing. There is mounting evidence that Beijing has been applying multiple pressures on Pyongyang to lift the collapsing economy by pulling up its own juche bootstraps, but without much success. All the same, most Chinese Korea experts, based on their assessments of both the evolving political situation and the underlying political system, remain wedded to the belief that North Korea will not collapse.15


Samuel S. Kim

In the unsettled situation following Kim Il-sung’s sudden death in July 1994 and the deterioration of Sino-American relations, China defined and acted upon the security situation on the Korean Peninsula in realpolitik terms. Despite the pro forma lip service to peaceful Korean reunification, the central challenge of post-Mao foreign policy continues to be the creation of a congenial external environment, especially in Northeast Asia, for its accelerated march to superpowerdom. With the balance of overall national strength having already shifted so decisively in favor of South Korea, thus enhancing the prospects for Korean unification by absorption, one of Beijing’s central security aims has become the strengthening of its ties with the weaker North, albeit in a cost-effective way. The Chinese leadership has begun to realize the strategic consequences of Korean reunification by absorption, especially in light of the Western co-optive strategy of “peaceful evolution” (heping yanbian). What heightened Beijing’s security concerns and its opposition to the unification by absorption scenario was its perception of US strategy. “To put it bluntly,” one pro-PRC newspaper in Hong Kong wrote, “the United States wants to use this chance to topple the DPRK, and this is a component of US strategy to carry out peaceful evolution in the socialist countries… [The United States] will practice a strategy of destruction against North Korea… with the aim of enabling South Korea to gobble up North Korea, like West Germany gobbling up East Germany.” Such a US strategy poses not only an ideological challenge but, more significantly, a strategic threat, since “China regards the Korean region as an important buffer zone between China and the United States.”16 Moreover, the onset of another round of Sino-American conflict (1995–1997) introduced a highly charged nationalistic prism for redefining the evolving security situation on the Korean Peninsula in general, and America’s Korea policy in particular. Situated at the center of Northeast Asia, the Korean Peninsula was seen as the site where the four great powers were aggressively pushing their contending strategic plans. From the Chinese standpoint, Japan viewed a unified Korea as a great threat to its own military and economic security, and was therefore aggressively involving itself in the Korean question in order to arrest the continuing strategic imbalance between the two Koreas. Russia too was trying hard to get back into the game in order to curb the growing influence of the other major powers, namely the United States, China, and especially Japan. The United States, more than any of the other major powers, was singled out as eyeing the other three as threats to its hegemonic position. The importance that the United States had attached to the Korean Peninsula was in the hope of containing China, Russia, and Japan by gearing up its military presence and strengthening its security ties with South Korea. The final goal was to put North Korea on America’s strategic track in order to create a united Korea with an American-style political system. Consequently, China, faute de mieux, had to respond to this ominous situation by stepping up its influence on the Korean Peninsula. China and North Korea are said to be two good neighbors who still enjoy strategic relations as close as “lips and teeth,” in contrast to Sino-ROK economic relations. Hence, China was in a unique position to check the great powers’ expansionism and American

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula


hegemonism in this region, considered to be China’s vital strategic shield, and to safeguard effectively the peace and stability in Northeast Asia.17 With the improvement of Sino-American relations, such anti-American assessments of the Korean situation had subsided by the latter part of 1997, especially in the wake of President Jiang Zemin’s state visit to the United States. Changes conducive to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula occurred in the positions and policies of all peripheral major powers, especially the United States, in 1996–1997. Probably reflecting a major shift in America’s North Korea policy from deterrence to deterrence-plus, the United States is now said to have adopted a “coordinating and mediating attitude” in place of a concerted unitedfront position with its South Korean ally.18 There is far more than meets the public eye in Beijing’s status quo – and antiunification – policy. Apart from maximizing its leverage as a balancer in the politics of a divided Korea, a greater danger would result if the junior socialist ally in the strategic buffer zone felt cornered and saw no choice but to fight back, triggering a second Korean War. Beijing does not doubt that Pyongyang would choose to fight rather than succumb to German-style hegemonic unification. Even if the system in the North collapses, it is likely to be bloody, triggering a civil war within rather than allowing peaceful absorption by the South. Even Hwang Jangyop, the highest-ranking North Korean leader yet to defect to the South, warned against the danger of reading too much into his defection: “The republic [North Korea] is in economic difficulty but it remains politically united and there’s no danger of its collapse.”19 Even if Korean reunification takes place peacefully and does not ignite a civil war in a united Korea or generate a massive floating refugee population, Beijing would still have to cope with a wide range of territorial disputes over fisheries and mineral, oil, and gas deposits in the Yellow Sea, some of which are already on the Sino-ROK negotiations agenda. China’s security dilemma today is not only ethnonationally charged but geostrategically entangled, as more than 80 million people of minority nationalities (or about 8 percent of the total population) reside in the strategically sensitive but politically “autonomous” regions that constitute roughly 64 percent of Chinese territory. The image of sovereign Kazahks, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Mongols in the post-Cold War setting of substate fragmentation and rising ethnonationalism might inspire the non-Han peoples in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet to refuse to allow their national identities to be suppressed any longer. What would a united and nationalistic Korea do about its historical territorial claims along the Sino-Korean border or in the northeastern provinces, inhabited by the world’s largest concentration of overseas ethnic Koreans? Organizations such as Damui (Reclaim) in South Korea, with more than 50,000 members, are advancing the irredentist claim, “Manchuria was ours but was taken away [and]… maybe, one day, it’ll be ours again.” Damui’s irredentist activities have already provoked Beijing’s strong protests, and Seoul has acknowledged that such activities need to be curbed.20 For China, then, the system-maintaining scenario is perhaps the worst possible one, but there is nothing more feasible or desirable in the offing to replace it.


Samuel S. Kim

Faced with the deepening food crisis, refugee flows, and the growing danger of system collapse in North Korea in recent years, especially since early 1996, Beijing has begun to play a more active, indeed crucial, role in the politics of regime survival. In a cost-effective way, China has shown its support to the systemmaintaining approach by instantly recognizing and legitimating Kim Jong-il as the paramount leader in the wake of Kim Il-sung’s death, by resuming and accelerating its fuel and food aid, by maintaining the 1961 military-security treaty, and by cultivating the perception that Beijing is willing to take up the slack left by Seoul, Washington, and the World Food Program to help North Korea ride out its current economic difficulties. Whatever the final outcome of Beijing’s support of system maintenance in the North may be, there is little doubt that, absent Chinese support, the combined impact of Seoul and Washington’s hard-line policies would be minimal. Indeed, China has been a key factor in the softening of US and ROK policies toward North Korea in recent years, giving a new lease of life to North Korea. From Beijing’s vantage point, the 1994 Agreed Framework and the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organization (KEDO) are seen as opening a window of opportunity for improving economic conditions in North Korea, for bolstering the legitimacy of the Kim Jong-il regime, and for enhancing the prospects of political stability. Full implementation of the Agreed Framework via KEDO is thus regarded as essential to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and therefore vital to China’s national-security interests.21 What is not clear is the exact amount and terms of China’s aid to North Korea. Chosun Ilbo (Korea Daily), the largest daily newspaper in Seoul, reported in 1996 that Beijing had decided to provide 500,000 tons of grain and 1.3 million tons of petroleum to North Korea each year for the next five years (1996–2000).22 More recently, Scott Snyder suggested that China has continued to supply more than 1.2 million tons of grain and more than 1 million tons of oil per year to North Korea despite efforts in the early 1990s to convince Pyongyang to pay market prices for such deliveries.23 Apparently, more aid has been provided in other forms, and based on a greater number of conditions – direct government-to-government aid, subsidized cross-border trade, and private barter transactions – in order to forestall North Korea’s collapse for as long as possible. Paradoxically, Pyongyang’s growing dependence on Beijing for its economic and political survival breeds mutual distrust and resentment. Pyongyang has taken a sleight of hand approach by privately asking for more and more aid. All the same, top North Korean diplomats, in the pursuit of their aid-seeking diplomacy, deny that they have asked for or received any Chinese aid.24 “The most frightening prospect,” according to Hwang Jang-yop, “is not that North Korea will collapse. What I fear most is that Kim Jong-il will bow down to China to get the help he needs, and North Korea will slip into the Chinese orbit.”25 Until about 1997, Korean unification by Southern absorption was regarded by Chinese scholars and policy-makers as no more than an exercise in wishful thinking. Conditions in North Korea are better now than conditions were in China during its worst years, from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, because North Korea has a smaller population, receives help from the outside world, is accustomed

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to chronic food shortages, which have existed for twenty years, and, thanks to its extensive coping and control mechanisms, is still in firm control.26 Given the fact that the economic crisis in North Korea has continued without let-up for almost a decade, exacerbating structural contradictions within the system, and given the improvement in Sino-American relations, Chinese scholars and analysts increasingly acknowledge the possibility of system collapse in North Korea even if they doubt that such system collapse is imminent. In other words, not to think about the unthinkable came to be viewed as a Chinese exercise in wishful thinking. In late October 1997, for example, the Beijing Review, which touts the party line on every international issue, published an unsigned article in which it offered an unprecedented analysis (and rebuke) of the root causes of North Korea’s food crisis: A heavy military burden is using up much needed resources… The present military expenditure of DPRK is US$6 billion, bringing a huge burden to its economy. For the time being, the US, Japan and Republic of Korea (ROK) are three main forces in the aid of DPRK. Due to conflicting points of view, however, many political conditions are attached to the aid process… Ultimately, it’s up to the [North] Korean people themselves to resolve the grain crisis. It requires spirit and will power to meet the challenge of such reforms as introducing foreign investment and opening up, while maintaining a stable political situation. And Korea needs to be flexible while carrying out diplomatic policies.27 Despite the widely shared belief that system collapse in North Korea is not imminent, some Chinese analysts have given thought to various futurible scenarios. According to one scholar, China’s ultimate concern is not who will be the next “Great Leader” in Pyongyang, but “whether the DPRK will remain as a stable and friendly buffer state… From Beijing’s point of view, although Kim Jr. may lose the internal power struggle [if it occurs], there should be no reason why China cannot come out a winner.”28 Another scenario envisions factional infighting in a collapsed North Korea, with one factional group seeking help from the United States and/or South Korea, and another seeking help from China. In such an event, Eric McVadon writes, based on extensive interviews with Chinese military officers, “Beijing would reject the appeal and urge Washington and Seoul to do the same. If Beijing’s bilateral urging were insufficient and it appeared that the US and/or the ROK were ready to accede to the request (or wavering), China would ask that the UN Security Council step in to prevent the movement of United States or ROK forces into the North. Beijing would persist in its bilateral efforts, taking the approach that if Washington desists from sending troops into North Korea and can convince Seoul to follow suit, Beijing will do the same.”29

Neutrality of the DPRK The concept of neutrality has never been part of traditional or contemporary


Samuel S. Kim

Chinese foreign-policy thinking. China’s rooted para bellum strategic culture, not international neutrality or the international “anarchy” of structural–realist theory, has linked and driven Beijing’s hard realpolitik in the Ming, Mao, and post-Mao periods.30 Despite the proclaimed centrality of the Third World in Maoist foreign policy pronouncements – that China is a socialist country belonging to the Third World and that such identification will continue undiminished – Beijing refused to join the two leading Third World caucuses, the Group of SeventySeven (G-77) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The Manichean element in Mao’s image of world order made it difficult, at least in theory, to accommodate “non-aligned” or “neutral third” global actors between the imperialist and socialist camps. With the end of the Cold War, the demise of Mao’s three-world theory, and the collapse of the global strategic triangle, the concept of neutrality seems to have become even more problematic in Chinese foreign-policy thinking. One searches in vain for any discussion of the concept of neutrality or neutralization in the burgeoning Chinese international relations literature. When asked, my Chinese interlocutors almost without exception dismissed the idea of a neutral DPRK as irrelevant at best (not feasible) and as dangerous at worst (not desirable). Even if feasible, a neutral DPRK would only accentuate, not alleviate, the power differences between the North and the South, as the latter remains allied with the United States.31 A neutral or neutralized DPRK has never been part of mainstream security thinking in Pyongyang or Seoul. The security challenge in both Koreas has been framed in terms of twin dilemmas: how to navigate between allied entrapment and allied abandonment. The Korean Peninsula is often characterized as the last stronghold of the Cold War because the so-called demilitarized zone remains the most heavily militarized border in the world, where more than 1.8 million military personnel, including 37,000 US troops, armed with the latest weapons systems, confront each other. Another consideration is the continuing if somewhat currently attenuated Cold War alliance systems linking the two Koreas with China and the United States in the bilateralized subregional security complex. The Sino-DPRK relationship today is not organically as close as it once was, but Beijing still maintains the July 1961 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with North Korea, making it the only country that has a formal military alliance with Pyongyang. Neither Beijing nor Pyongyang has shown any interest in modifying the treaty. Unlike the 1961 Soviet–DPRK treaty, the Sino-DPRK treaty cannot be revised or abrogated without prior mutual agreement (Article 7). The realpolitik logic here seems simple enough: to abandon Pyongyang, especially during a crisis situation, is to lose whatever leverage Beijing may still have in the politics of divided Korea and to reduce it to the marginal level of Moscow in its post-normalization period. And yet, without publicly saying so, Beijing has actually taken, or at least was perceived by South Korea as having taken, a “neutral” or equidistant stand on several contentious Korea-specific issues. Beijing demonstrated its desire not to antagonize North Korea in 1993–1994 by abstaining rather than voting for or

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against numerous draft resolutions in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations. These were disputes to be resolved bilaterally between Pyongyang and Seoul, between Pyongyang and Washington, or between Pyongyang and Vienna (IAEA). In the end, paradoxically, China did make a contribution of sorts, by default, by forcing the issue to be transferred from the Security Council to direct US–DPRK bilateral negotiations, culminating in a landmark Geneva Accord, officially known as the US–DPRK Agreed Framework, on 21 October 1994. The quest for an equidistant neutral stand is also a manifestation of maxi–mini diplomacy – doing less and less to accomplish more and more – as in China’s refusal to join a multinational consortium for managing the implementation of the US–DPRK Agreed Framework. As China’s standard refrain goes, “We can be of greater help being outside than inside the KEDO.” If Beijing succeeded in not antagonizing North Korea in 1993–1994, the same cannot be said with regard to the two-plus-two formula, the four-party peace talks jointly proposed by President Clinton and President Kim Young-sam at their summit meeting on Cheju Island, South Korea, in April 1996. After the proposal was announced, Chinese diplomats privately made it clear to Washington that Beijing was quite unhappy with the joint peace overture, not only because Beijing had not been adequately consulted but also because Washington was acting prematurely. Although never publicly articulated, the Chinese complaint was that Pyongyang and, by implication, Beijing were put into the spotlight unprepared without knowing what was being asked of them, much less what response they should give to avoid being trapped in negotiations destined to work to their disadvantage. Worse, according to Chinese diplomats, Pyongyang was once more being forced into the role of the victim – the demander. Above all, in Beijing’s eyes, Washington had not only acted imprudently but had also jeopardized the stability of its sensitive and delicate geostrategic relationship with North Korea.32 Once the first round of preliminary peace talks were under way in New York in early August 1997, Beijing took a neutral position on differences between North and South Korea, opposing Pyongyang’s demand that the issue of US troops’ presence in South Korea and a US–North Korean peace treaty be included in the agenda, while at the same time refusing to support the joint US–ROK proposal that four-party talks address tension-reducing and confidence-building measures. Instead, Beijing once more advanced the line that the four countries should discuss the improvement of bilateral relations.33 Although China still has a military alliance with North Korea, Beijing let it be known, if informally at first, that it would not support Pyongyang if North Korea attacked South Korea. During Jiang Zemin’s state visit to South Korea in 1995, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that the alliance did not commit Chinese troops to defending North Korea.34 On other occasions, however, the formulation has been that Beijing’s support would not be provided if the North launched “an unprovoked attack,” or that the treaty does not require the dispatch of Chinese military forces, or that China was not willing “automatically” to intervene, and so on. “Both Koreas seek to use their relationship with Beijing to gain an advantage over the other side,” we are told, “while a main component of


Samuel S. Kim

China’s policy toward the peninsula is to try to avoid being used by either of the two Koreas against the other.”35 When Pyongyang was pressing hard for its unilateral two-plus-zero or a threeplus-zero formula in obvious attempts to exclude Beijing, however, China’s surprise response was that it now opposed North Korea’s unilateral two-plus-zero scheme as “unrealistic, unreasonable and impossible.” From Beijing’s perspective, Pyongyang’s formula marginalizes the China factor in the security complex surrounding the Korean Peninsula. “The Korean peninsula issue is no longer a simple dispute between South and North Korea,” according to an unnamed PRC expert. “The different attitudes of China and US on the North Korean nuclear issue is, essentially speaking, a strategic trial of strength between the two countries on the Korean peninsula.”36 As a signatory to the Korean armistice accord, China, according to Yu Shaohua, has every reason and right to be a party in the fourparty peace talks designed to replace the armistice with a peace treaty or mechanism.37 To prevent a situation in which a major power would dominate the region, argues another scholar, “China takes a neutral stance toward the conflicts between the United States, Japan, and Russia” because it is desirable “for China to maintain an equilibrium among America, Japan, and Russia,” ideally to become a “balancer” in the “US–Japan–China or US–Russia–China triangular relations.”38 In an unprecedented trilateral tug-of-war over the Hwang Jang-yop affair, the highest-ranking North Korean leader ever to seek to defect to South Korea, Beijing was forced for the first time to act as a neutral mediating third party between the niggling South and the defiant North. Remarkably, Beijing managed to escape from the predicament by killing two birds with one stone. On the one hand, after weighing image costs and benefits – Seoul’s legal position, espousing accepted principles of international law in favor of allowing Hwang to go to a country of his choice, and China’s own status and reputation as one of the Permanent Five in the Security Council – Beijing decided to let Hwang go. On the other hand, Beijing managed to reduce Pyongyang’s anger by allowing a reasonable interlude in China before “deporting” Hwang to a third country (the Philippines), thus showing compliance with its own domestic law of not granting political asylum. At the same time, China blocked the United States and Japan from assuming any role in the resolution of this inter-Korean crisis even as it extracted Seoul’s promise not to take “political advantage” of the Hwang Jang-yop affair. What about a neutral Korea after reunification? China is not opposed to Korean reunification per se, provided that it comes about gradually and peacefully, that it is a negotiated unification between the two Koreas and not a hegemonic unification by absorption, and that a unified Korea does not harm or threaten China’s security or national interests. “China will use her influence to strive for the peaceful unification of Korea,” we are told, “and to keep unified Korea as a friendly, or at best, neutral neighbor.”39

Conclusion The essential point that emerges from the preceding analysis is that, for the first

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time in its checkered history, PRC foreign policy has experienced a significant and sustained shift from ideology to realpolitik national interest. China’s Korea policy both before and after normalization is no exception to the general reorientation of Chinese foreign policy, not even in the wake of the Tiananmen carnage and the collapse of the Soviet Union and international communism. In the course of implementing its momentous two-Koreas policy, China has pursued with remarkable success a multitasking strategy of seeking different but complementary interests – geostrategic, geoeconomic, and anti-hegemonic – on all three sides of the Beijing–Pyongyang–Seoul triangle. On the first and second sides of the triangle, Beijing sought to maintain its amicable ties, if not “lips and teeth” organic links, with North Korea even as it promoted a new, booming geoeconomic relationship with South Korea. On the third side of the triangle, the most turbulent domain in many respects, Beijing tried hard to keep out of harm’s way by following an indeterminate or equidistance policy. As a way of maximizing its influence over Korean affairs, China often attempts to be all things to all parties, leaving many anxious about its real intentions and final decision. China has seldom put itself on the front line of the Korean conflict as either a mediator or a peacemaker for fear that it might get burned if something goes wrong. Indeed, China’s Korea policy appears primarily defensive and reactive rather than offensive and proactive, with no discernible longer term strategic vision or goals to speak of beyond the preservation of the status quo on the Korean Peninsula. Still, China has played a major role in Korean affairs not only by providing necessary diplomatic and economic support to the DPRK but also by making it clear to Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo that it is in the common interest of all to promote the peaceful coexistence of the two Korean states on the peninsula rather than having to cope with the turmoil, chaos, and massive exodus of refugees that would follow in the wake of system collapse in the North. Despite, or perhaps because of, such an equidistance diplomacy, PRC–ROK relations have been far smoother than PRC–DPRK relations. More than at any other time since the late nineteenth century collapse of the traditional Sino-centric order in East Asia, China’s evolving perspectives and policies seem essential to a consideration of various Korean future scenarios. That the PRC has come to interact with the two Koreas in more ways, and in more depth and complexity, than ever before in its checkered international life leads to one obvious and somewhat paradoxical conclusion. On the one hand, postTiananmen China is arguably a more influential player in the reshaping of the future of the Korean Peninsula than at any time since the Korean War and than any other peripheral power. Despite all the “rise of China” hype, however, it remains an incomplete great power.40 Its capacity to initiate or implement consistent policies toward the two Koreas is increasingly constrained by the norms and practices of important domestic groups – Northeast Asian regional and global regimes, as well as the United States, Japan, and Russia. Like it or not, China’s two Koreas policy cannot be contained in a state-to-state bilateral strait-jacket, as other actors and interests now make up different aspects of China’s multidimensional two Koreas policy. This growing complexity, density, and


Samuel S. Kim

multilateralization has placed inordinate pressure on the Chinese foreign-policy system to develop more effective coordinating mechanisms to monitor and supervise what is really going on.41 There is no simple answer to the question of how long the post-Kim Il-sung system will survive and in what shape or form, because the interplay between North Korea and the outside world, especially China, is highly complex and wellnigh unpredictable. What complicates our understanding of the shape of things to come in North Korea is that all the peripheral countries involved, including China, have become moving targets on turbulent trajectories of their respective domestic politics, subject to competing and often contradictory pressures. Still, the near future will be more or less like the recent past. Of the three futurible scenarios, the system-maintaining scenario seems the most feasible one for the immediate future, as China has cast its lot with system maintenance in the North. Although China today commands a rather unique position and influence as the only major power that maintains a good relationship with both Koreas, the future of North Korea is not for China to make or unmake. China can help or hinder North Korea in taking one system-rescuing approach instead of another, but, in the end, no outside power can decide North Korea’s future. The jury is still out on whether post-Kim Il-sung North Korea can ride out its economic difficulties by means of its tenuous external life-support system without forfeiting its juche identity and without a sudden crash landing.

Notes 1


3 4 5

6 7 8

At a high-level binational meeting held on Cheju Island in April 1996, to cite a more recent example, South Korean and US participants agreed that collapse could come as soon as two or three years. See Michael Green, “North Korean regime crisis: US perspectives and responses,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 1997, vol. 9, no. 2 (Winter), p. 7. For further analysis and elaboration, see Nazli Choucri and Thomas Robinson (eds) Forecasting in International Relations, San Francisco: Freeman, 1978; Samuel S. Kim, The Quest for a Just World Order, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1984, pp. 301–342; Gabriel A. Almond and Stephen J. Genco, “Clouds, clocks, and the study of politics,” World Politics, 1977, vol. 29, no. 4 (July), pp. 489–522; and Robert Jervis, “The future of world politics: will it resemble the past?” International Security, 1991/92, vol. 16, no. 3 (Winter), pp. 39–73. Jervis, op. cit., pp. 42–45. Nazli Choucri, “Key issues in international relations forecasting,” in Choucri and Robinson, op. cit., p. 4. William Drennan argues in his prescient paper that the North Korean state can still survive the collapse or replacement of the system. See his “The United States: role and responsibility in Korean unification,” paper presented at the 1998 annual meeting of the Association of Asian Studies, Washington, DC, 28 March 1998. See US Secretary of Defense William Cohen’s 2000 “Report to Congress: military situation on the Korean Peninsula, 12 September 2000” at . Han Sung-joo, “The emerging triangle: Korea between China and the United States” (lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 1 April 1998). Lo Ping and Lai Chi-king, “Secret talks between Chinese, Vietnamese Communist

China and the future of the Korean Peninsula

9 10 11 12 13 14

15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23


25 26 27


Parties and between Chinese, Korean Communist Parties,” Cheng Ming (Hong Kong), 1 August 1991, pp. 12–13, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service: Daily Report, China (hereafter cited as FBIS-China), 1 August 1991, pp. 1–2. Chen Qimao, “The role of the Great Powers in the process of Korean reunification,” in Amos A. Jordan, Korean Unification: Implications for Northeast Asia, Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1993, p. 70, emphasis added. Lee Young-sun, “Is Korean reunification possible?” Korea Focus, 1995, May–June, p. 13. Park Young-ho, “International perceptions of Korean unification issues,” Korea Focus, 1998, January–February, pp. 72–80, quote on p. 78. Yan Xuetong and Li Zhongcheng, “Zhanwang xia shiji chu guoji zhengzhi” (Prospects for international politics in the beginning of the next century), Xiandai guoji guanxi (Contemporary International Relations), 1995, no. 6, p. 7. Yan Xuetong, “Lengzhan hou Zhongguo de duiwai anquan zhanlüe” (China’s postCold War external security strategy), Xiandai guoji guanxi, 1995, no. 8, p. 24. For a trenchant analysis of North Korea’s unification policy, see Nicholas Eberstadt, “North Korea’s unification policy: 1948–1996,” in Samuel S. Kim (ed.) North Korean Foreign Relations in the Post-Cold War Era, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 235–257. Banning Garrett and Bonnie Glaser, “Looking across the Yalu: Chinese assessments of North Korea,” Asian Survey, 1995, vol. 35, no. 6 (June), p. 530. See Hsin Pao (Hong Kong), 8 April 1994, p. 24, in FBIS-China, 12 April 1994, pp. 13–15, and Hsin Pao, 24 June 1994, p. 25, in FBIS-China, 24 June 1994, pp. 7–8; quotations on p. 14 and p. 7 respectively. See Wang Chunyin, “Chaoxian bandao anquan xingshi zhanwang” (Prospects for the security situation on the Korean peninsula), Xiandai guoji guanxi, 1996, no. 6, pp. 10–12. See Yu Shaohua, “Chaoxian bandao xingshi de fazhan yu qianjing” (The evolving situation and future prospects of the Korean peninsula) Guoji wenti yanjiu (International Studies), 1997, no. 4, pp. 12–16; especially p. 12. Hwang Jang-yop, quoted in Far Eastern Economic Review, 27 February 1997, p. 15. Paul H. Kreisberg, “Threat environment for a United Korea: 2010,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 1996, vol. 8 (Summer), pp. 84–85. For further analysis along this line, see Garrett and Glaser, op. cit. Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), 20 July 1996. Scott Snyder, North Korea’s Decline and China’s Strategic Dilemma, Special Report, Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, October 1997, p. 7; Challenges of Building a Korean Peace Process: Political and Economic Transition on the Korean Peninsula, Special Report, Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace, June 1998, p. 9. In a closed executive session of what may be characterized as a Track II dialogue involving two high-ranking North Korean diplomats – the DPRK’s UN Ambassador Li Hyong-chul and his deputy Ambassador Li Gun – and a dozen of State Department Korea experts and US scholars including this author, in New York in late May 1998, Ambassador Li Gun categorically denied any Chinese aid, saying: “If we wanted Chinese aid, we could get one million tons of grain from China tomorrow but it would come with an unacceptable heavy price of ‘dependence’.” Hwang’s statement in a special interview granted to US journalist Selig Harrison. See Selig Harrison, “North Korea from the inside out,” Washington Post, 21 June 1998, p. C01. Banning Garrett and Bonnie Glaser, “China’s pragmatic posture toward the Korean Peninsula,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 1997, Winter, pp. 69–70. “Grain crisis causes hardship for DPRK people,” Beijing Review, 1997, vol. 40, no. 43 (27 October–2 November), p. 7.

128 28 29 30

31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41

Samuel S. Kim Yi Xiaoxiong, “China’s Korea policy: from ‘One Korea’ to ‘Two Koreas’,” Asian Affairs, 1995, Summer, p. 133. Eric A. McVadon, “Chinese military strategy for the Korean Peninsula,” in James R. Lilley and David Shambaugh (eds) China’s Military Faces the Future, Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1999, p. 287. Alastair I. Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995; “Cultural realism and strategy in Maoist China,” in Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.) The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, pp. 216–69; Alastair I. Johnston, “China’s new ‘old thinking,’” International Security, 1995/96, vol. 20, no. 3 (Winter), pp. 5–42. Field interviews by author, Beijing, June 1998. See McVadon, op. cit., pp. 273–274. Korea Herald (Internet version), 23 August 1997. Korea Times (Internet version), 16 November 1995. Chinese interlocutor, quoted in Garrett and Glaser, op. cit., p. 74. PRC expert, quoted in Jen Hui-Wen, “The Chinese–US strategic trial of strength on the Korean Peninsula,” Hsin Pao (Hong Kong), 8 April 1994, p. 24. Yu Shaohua, op. cit., p. 15. Yang Chengxu, “Dui Dong Ya anquan wenti de fenxi” (An analysis of the East Asian security problem), Guoji wenti yanjiu, 1994, no. 3, p. 20. Zhao Gancheng, “China’s Korea Unification Policy,” in Tae-Hwan Kwak (ed.) The Four Powers and Korean Unification Strategies, Seoul: Institute for Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University, 1997, p. 82 (emphasis added). See Samuel S. Kim, “Assessing China as a great power,” Current History, 1997, vol. 96, no. 611 (September), pp. 246–251. On the problem of instituting more effective coordinating mechanisms, see David Bachman, “Structure and process in the making of Chinese foreign policy,” in Samuel S. Kim (ed.) China and the World: Chinese Foreign Policy Faces the New Millennium, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998, p. 49.


A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula Nikolai Sokov

Introduction Close reading of basic Russian documents on foreign and national security policy in the 1996–1997 period1 would have revealed that Russia did not have a longterm policy toward the Korean Peninsula. Both Koreas were also absent from major speeches or articles by Russian policy-makers: for example, Yevgeni Primakov did not refer to them even once in any of his major articles on foreign policy. One would have been forced to reconstruct policy from occasional remarks by Russian officials during briefings or visits to the region. Non-governmental experts and columnists did not pay much attention to the Koreas either; in fact, they hardly paid any attention at all.2 On the surface, this could be explained by the fact that the Korean Peninsula was just one among a sea of problems that Russia had to cope with. But Russia had a policy on China, Japan, and the US role in the region; Southeast Asia commanded increasingly close attention as well. The apparent absence of attention to the Korean Peninsula, therefore, might seem surprising. After all, according to the criteria established by Col.-Gen. Valeri Manilov, one of the leading authorities on national security policy, the two Koreas fell into the “neighborhood belt” around Russia, which embraced the immediate vicinity of the country and was considered critical for its security.3 The lack of policy on the Korean Peninsula in the 1996–1998 period could be explained by three factors operating simultaneously: (1) Moscow’s lack of interest in the domestic situation in the two Koreas, (2) the global/regional context of the peninsula, and (3) reactive Russian policy. First, Russian policy existed only with respect to the external aspects of the situation on the peninsula, i.e. on nonproliferation problems or international consequences of various scenarios of unification. Even the interest in economic relations with South Korea had not produced discernible interest in its domestic development. No politically relevant interest groups in Russia associated themselves with either of the two Koreas. Second, the peninsula was viewed primarily within the context of a global or at least a regional “game,” in which the main actors were great powers – the United States, China, Japan, and Russia. Of course, both Koreas played an important part in that “game” as well, but the main interest was not how things would evolve within or between them, but rather how the geopolitical landscape might look in


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the end. Different scenarios could have different effects, and the developments in the Korean Peninsula were assessed through the prism of their impact on Russia. Third, Russia was not proactive, but rather reactive. There was apparently no set of goals to achieve. Russia would have liked to avoid certain outcomes, which it considered unfavorable; as long as such outcomes did not materialize, it would be relatively indifferent to other developments or unification scenarios. This explains the lack of defined policy during those years. The initiative was essentially surrendered to others, and Russia simply assessed new data against a set of preexisting criteria. Apparently, one of the most visible and important Russian interests was being on the “inside track” of any negotiations or multilateral settlements that might take place in the peninsula. This would have enabled Russia to keep things under control, or at least be informed in detail about possible outcomes, and hopefully influence them. The Russian policy toward the Korean Peninsula during that period could be summarized in terms of the following three principles: 1 The preservation of the status quo was better than change, because change was likely to lead to a less favorable situation. 2 Reunification, if and when it happened, should be pursued within a multilateral framework with Russia’s participation, preferably within the context of a Russiaproposed forum with participation of both Koreas, the United States, China, Japan, and the United Nations. 3 The key concern, which served as a benchmark for all assessments, was the level of military threat originating from the Korean Peninsula; the current level was low, and Russia wanted it to at least remain the same. A proposal on neutrality of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would have been explored through the prism of these three points. This chapter will demonstrate that, given the limited nature of its interests and concerns with respect to the Korean Peninsula, there was a strong probability that Russia would take a positive stance toward North Korean neutrality. There was, however, a rather narrow range of specific conditions under which the proposal would be acceptable. With few exceptions, these conditions were related to the progressively strained relations with the United States and had little connection with the Korean Peninsula itself.

Russia’s place on the Korean Peninsula Russia’s problems in the peninsula were caused by the simple fact that it did not have serious levers with either of the two Korean states. During the 1996–1997 period, it had been trying to build a “two Koreas policy,” maintaining equal involvement with and equal distance from both, but this was a difficult and timeconsuming task after a decade of sharp turns and about faces. Even during the best of times, North Korea was a closed state to the Soviet

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


Union, and it was unable to penetrate it to the same extent that it penetrated the societies of its other allies. Kim Il-sung maintained strict control over all contacts with the “big brother” and was able to manipulate the Soviet Union and China by playing one against the other. Thus, in an attempt to keep North Korea from association with what was then an enemy or at least an opponent, the Soviet Union had to tolerate free riding by North Korea, but always distrusted the ally. Economic relations were also one-sided: the Soviet Union supplied its ally with whatever products and technology the latter needed without even reaping commensurate political benefits. North Korea remained, however, a useful partner in confrontation with the United States and prevented advancement of US troops and nuclear weapons toward the Soviet territory. Still, for all practical purposes, North Korea represented a neutral buffer rather than a useful ally. The situation changed somewhat under Gorbachev, who sharply increased Soviet assistance in 1985–1986. North Korea even agreed to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT) and open up for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections in exchange for cooperation in a nuclear energy program. The new rapprochement worried China, which, in early 1986, even made a special statement on Soviet–North Korean relations.4 Beginning in 1988, however, relations between Moscow and Pyongyang began to unravel with equal speed, and by 1990 the Soviet Union decided to recognize South Korea in expectation of massive aid and investment. The North saw this step as a betrayal and, according to some reports, even threatened to create its own nuclear weapons if the Soviet Union abandoned it.5 It is little wonder that Russia almost completely broke relations with North Korea in 1992, terminating, in particular, the military assistance article of the 1961 treaty. Obvious political and ideological differences aside, there seemed precious little benefit that Russia could yield from an alliance with North Korea, and, moreover, Russia could not afford to continue subsidizing North Korea. It would, consequently, be a mistake to attribute the break solely to the “proAmerican” policy of Andrei Kozyrev, the first foreign minister of Russia, although Russia obviously went further than was wise. China, in contrast, maintained a more balanced approach and made a smooth transition toward a “two Koreas policy,” even without terminating the 1961 alliance treaty. Apparently, China was as unhappy with North Korea as the Soviet Union was, but it succeeded in maintaining influence over its ally and even defended it, within certain limits, during the 1993–1994 crisis over the DPRK nuclear program. Warning bells sounded when North Korea entered into an agreement with the United States regarding its nuclear program, and, some claim, support of US policy cost Russia both political leverage in the region and potential profits from nuclear energy cooperation with North Korea.6 The latter claim was doubtful,7 and, regardless, leverage had been lost earlier, so Russia could not even have mediated between North Korea and the United States. In 1994, the DPRK also rejected a Russian proposal to resolve the “nuclear crisis” within the framework of an international conference with participation of the United States, China, Japan, the United Nations, and IAEA.8


Nikolai Sokov

After that, Russia attempted to balance its relationship with the two Koreas. In 1995, the Russian Foreign Ministry tabled the draft of a new treaty, to replace the alliance treaty of 1961, and in 1996 it proposed an international conference on the Korean Peninsula. These efforts did not lead to tangible results, and Russia was left out of the four-party talks, which had begun in June 1997. North Korea remained closed to Russia, and no serious bilateral political or economic relationship existed. Subsequently, many proposals were advanced in Russia – mostly from academics, many of whom had made their careers in the Soviet Union – for a new rapprochement with North Korea under the assumption that it would help to restore influence and leverage to Russia.9 The DPRK might conceivably have welcomed such advances if it had decided to improve its position vis-à-vis South Korea and the United States, and possibly China. After the breakthrough in 1990, the Soviet Union, and afterwards Russia, placed considerable hopes on the relationship with South Korea. Expectations of economic and financial assistance, as well as investment and trade, were riding high, but there were, evidently, limits to how far they might go. Eight years later, economic relations continued to develop slowly, and the economic crisis in South Korea in 1997–1998 dimmed their prospects even further. The economic relationship was limited, furthermore, to two categories of interaction: one was between large corporations or governments on both sides (95 percent of all trade was controlled, on the Korean side, by just twenty of the largest companies10), and the other was shuttle trade by entrepreneurial individuals. Arms trade represented a promising sector of trade, particularly after South Korea agreed in 1996 to accept arms against the sizable Russian debt, but its growth was hindered by the traditional orientation of South Korea toward Western sources of arms and, more recently, by direct US efforts to limit purchases from Russia. Without a doubt, the potential of the Russian–South Korean relationship was very significant, but it was going to take longer to mature than both sides had originally hoped. Both traditional orientation toward the United States and the weakness of Russia made it only a moderately attractive counterpart. The “China factor” was also present: China represented a more valuable political and economic partner to South Korea than did Russia. As a result of shifts in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Russia found itself outside Korean politics. It had lost its influence over the DPRK and was unable to use the opening after Kim Il-sung’s death, but did not acquire (and, with hindsight, could not acquire) influence over the Republic of Korea (ROK). Furthermore, in the middle of the 1990s, the situation had become significantly worse than it had been just a decade earlier. North Korean “games” around nuclear weapons created the real possibility of a military conflict near Russian borders: the West could conceivably use military force against nuclear facilities in the DPRK; even a limited war could have led to China’s involvement, and the whole crisis might have resulted in a very serious threat to Russia itself. Stability was restored without Russian participation, but it did not have the power to prevent similar crises in the future, nor to assure continued stability in the present form.

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


Security interests and concerns Security concerns were the most immediate ones for Russia, and they were also the best defined. The Korean Peninsula fell under the blanket provision of the 1997 Concept of National Security, which was copied almost word for word from the 1993 military doctrine: “In the defense area, the preservation or creation of powerful groupings of armed forces by large states (their coalitions) in the regions adjacent to [Russia’s] territory remains a threat to the national security of Russia. Even in the absence of aggressive intentions with respect to Russia, such groupings represent a potential military danger.”11 This provision did not necessarily apply to the United States alone, although the particular implication was obvious: an increase of US troops stationed in South Korea would have been viewed nervously. It applied equally to China, which already had a sizable military presence in the Far East, and the introduction of Chinese troops into North Korea would have been viewed with equal apprehension in Moscow. Based on the principle that large groups of armed forces close to Russia presented a threat, former minister of defense Igor Rodionov came up with a long list of potential threats, which included practically all states bordering on Russia or the former Soviet Union, as well as the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).12 Interestingly, Rodionov did not mention threats emanating from the Korean Peninsula. Without a doubt, neither of the two Koreas presented a threat to Russia by themselves, but both the United States and China could have deployed troops there, and this would have qualified as a threat. Evidently, at least in late 1996, even the Ministry of Defense did not think such deployment was a realistic possibility. Thus, in a sense, the Korean Peninsula represented a rare part of the Russian border – free from this type of threat. Although the US military presence in Northeast Asia might have been classified as a threat according to the official definition, it apparently was not perceived as such. The reason was probably that static situations were not necessarily seen as dangerous. Thus, only a US move into the North after unification (or as a result of an international conflict around nuclear weapons, or in the case of North Korea’s collapse, or any other similar scenario) or just an increase of US military presence in South Korea would likely have created a security problem for Russia. The Russian attitude toward the Korean Peninsula can best be understood in terms of similarity to the European developments (the role of out-of-the-region experience in Russian policy-making will be discussed in greater detail in the last section). If NATO were to be enlarged, the threat at issue would not necessarily be that of an immediate military one but rather the potential threat of greater uncertainty over the intentions and opportunities of NATO, shorter warning times if force were used, greater fear of conflict, and an opportunity for NATO to use armed forces as a political tool. The larger the group deployed in the vicinity of Russia and/or the greater the rapid reinforcement capability, then the more serious the political and military threat would be. A special aspect of this potential threat would be deployment of non-strategic nuclear weapons or nuclear-capable delivery vehicles and/or the ability to introduce them rapidly into a particular region.13


Nikolai Sokov

Unable to balance the perceived threat, Russia pursued a diplomatic approach to countering it. Its position during negotiations with NATO, developed by the General Staff, provided for a legally binding ban on the following four types of activities in the territories of new members: (1) deployment of nuclear weapons, (2) construction or use of storage facilities for nuclear weapons, (3) deployment of additional quantities of conventional forces, and (4) construction of any infrastructure for conventional forces.14 Russia was able to achieve only part of its agenda (the first three items out of the four, and none of them legally binding), but it gave a good idea of what the requirements for the Korean Peninsula might be if Russia decided to seek security assurances. Another relevant parallel was unification of Germany, specifically the conditions agreed within the “two-plus-four” framework. They included reduction of the armed forces of combined Germany below the level that West Germany had prior to reunification, no US nuclear weapons in the territory of East Germany, and no expansion of NATO authority to the territory of East Germany. In general terms, the Russian goals in the Korean Peninsula had been formulated as “normal, good-neighborly, and balanced relations with both Korean states and, in the future, with the unified Korean state, which Russia would like to see peaceful, democratic, non-nuclear, and prosperous.”15 Specific conditions with respect to military security were likely to be shaped along the same lines as the Russian position at the NATO–Russia negotiations. Evidently, Russia would have tried to make sure that neither the United States nor China would deploy troops in North Korea or that, at the minimum, the United States would not increase its current military presence in South Korea; that neither country would obtain capability for rapid deployment of troops in the Korean Peninsula or, with respect to South Korea, that the United States would not increase the currently available rapid deployment capability; that North Korea would remain a party to the NPT and that nuclear weapons would not be reintroduced into South Korea; and, finally, that no new storage facilities for nuclear weapons would be built on the peninsula. From the Russian point of view, there were ample reasons to be wary of unfavorable developments in Korea, and, in particular, of the possibility that Korea might fall under control of a great power. The occupation of the peninsula by Japan in 1910 provided a relevant example from history: it put the Russian Far East in an extremely dangerous situation (the potential threat was realized during the Civil War in the Far East and during a series of Soviet–Japanese conflicts in the late 1930s, including one in the Far East). The shadow of the past continued to influence Russian thinking about the affairs in the peninsula. The accepted wisdom about North Korea also paralleled the approach to new independent states and, until recently, the three East European states which had joined NATO. It also provided a glimpse of the evolution of Russian security concepts: buffers were still viewed as essential, but unlike in the “classic” Soviet view, they did not have to be allies or proxies. Neutrality would have been quite acceptable as a guarantee that territories of buffer states were not used as staging grounds for threat or attack. Apparently, Russia now had more trust in international law and international regimes that enabled it to consider neutral states to be safe,

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


but it did not fully trust the intentions and assurances of great powers or alliances to feel secure if they were close to its borders. An important difference between the Far East and Europe was the role of sea routes to and from Vladivostok, as well as in the Sea of Japan. This problem affected both commercial and military interests of Russia. The Korean Peninsula effectively controlled the neighborhood of the major Russian naval bases in the region. North Korea under unfriendly control would mean that the vulnerability of the Russian fleet would grow. It might also affect the increasingly important civilian traffic between Russia and Southeast and South Asia, as well as between Eastern and Western Russia.16 Thus, the list above should include, at the minimum, the absence of foreign naval bases in the territory of North Korea, the ban on the use of its naval bases by foreign fleets, and a ban on activities of foreign navies in its territorial waters. In view of these concerns, the status quo did not appear to be the worst possible outcome. Some Russian analyses even predicted that reunification of the two Koreas would be outright dangerous for Russia: according to Vadim Tkachenko, in the case of reunification, “the boundary of the US–Korean potential alliance would not only come within close range of Russia’s key strategic facilities on the Pacific coast, but would radically change the military situation that has taken shape there over the last decades.”17 This gloomy scenario was not preordained, obviously. Reunification could have neutral or even positive consequences for Russia. The problem was that Russia had no control over events and would not be able to prevent an unfavorable outcome; consequently, it prepared for the worst outcomes. Nor could it support the status quo indefinitely, which in reality rested in the hands of others, and Russia could only hope that by the time things began to move it would be out of its economic crisis and would have acquired at least some leverage to affect events.

Multilateral diplomacy International politics around the Korean Peninsula closely match the image of a multipolar world, a concept advanced by Yevgeni Primakov as the overriding guide to Russian foreign policy,18 more closely than other regions. Primakov, however, contrasted the emerging multipolarity with the classic systems of earlier periods: the contemporary system is based on cooperation and interdependence rather than conflict and balance of power. Interestingly, in Northeast Asia, both the old and the new definitions of multipolar systems appear to be applicable. Within the classic approach, Russia can attempt to balance the United States and China and “win points” in that competition. Within a multipolar world based on cooperation rather than confrontation, Russia can – and, indeed, should – become part of any negotiated solution and achieve its goals through cooperation with other powers. The first, “classic,” approach is increasingly popular in Russia. A prominent Russian politician and analyst Sergei Blagovolin suggested that Russia should be more active in the Asia-Pacific region, playing the United States, China, and Japan


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against each other “to make up for the time lost” in the early 1990s.19 Gyennadi Bogoluybov – a senior research fellow at the Institute of the Far East, too – suggested that Russia could cooperate with China to stem the advancement of US influence in the Pacific.20 The situation in the Korean Peninsula could be conceptualized as a balance between the United States and China: neither is likely to allow the other to take control of North Korea or the peninsula as a whole, and this is to Russia’s advantage. But even if this image is correct (which is not necessarily the case), the balance works without significant effort on the part of Russia and, furthermore, probably hinges on Russia’s inaction. As soon as Russia increases its economic and political status, the “game” will become more complicated. The existing balance could be disrupted in two ways. One is a collapse of North Korea, in which all sides would scramble to take the advantage over the others. Igor Rodionov hinted at this scenario when he said, speaking in Beijing, that, “in the event of an armed conflict between the two Korean states, the US and China may be embroiled in this conflict by virtue of the existing system of allied relations. Nor will Russia remain aloof.”21 Another option, which has become more feasible recently, is negotiated settlement or even unification achieved without Russian participation. The settlement does not have to be intentionally directed against Russia; in fact, the “Russian factor” might not be taken into consideration at all. But the outcome could well be unfavorable and, as noted above, Russia expects that any change would lead to the worsening of its position in the area. It is little wonder that Russia was seriously concerned about the fact that it was left outside the four-party consultations between the two Koreas, the United States, and China. They helped to institutionalize the de facto existing arrangement, which excluded Russia from participation in decision-making on the future relations in the peninsula. The exclusion from the four-party consultations might mean that even the concept of Russia as a “regional power in a US-led world”22 does not appear to be valid anymore. Primakov, on a visit to Seoul, had to welcome the four-party consultations, but he sounded almost hopeful when he said that, “if the talks fail, another international meeting comprising North and South Korea and other nations should take place.”23 Russia would certainly welcome a transition to a broader forum, which would inevitably include itself. At the moment, however, the chances of that happening are slim, regardless of how successfully the ongoing negotiations proceed: none of the four states appears to be interested in Russian participation. Primakov’s redefinition of multipolarity to stress cooperation instead of conflict does not necessarily improve the prospects for Russia either. Cooperation of the great powers instead of confrontation might actually mean that smaller states will lose the ability to “play” one great power against the other, and, as a result, their leverage would decline; great powers will define outcomes in negotiation instead of in conflict, but within a narrower “club.” This means that if Russia wants to maintain (or reacquire) its status of a great power, it has to be part of the negotiations as an insider rather than as an outsider. The Russian assessments are rather

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


pessimistic, and even moderate representatives of the elite view Western policy as anti-Russian; instead of becoming an integral part of the world economy and international system after the demise of Communism, Russia now has to struggle for acceptance.24 The long-term policy of Russia is aimed at full-scale integration into the network of formal and informal international regimes; it is a policy of “healthy pragmatism, which alone can ensure economic growth and profitable inclusion of the country into the club of the developed states.”25 Integration coupled with economic growth is likely to give Russia enough leverage to satisfy its security and other concerns, including those in the Korean Peninsula. However, the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy defined the emerging international system slightly differently from Primakov, i.e. as a “multilevel, highly fluid international and interstate system, where problems, especially economic ones, occupy the first place and increasingly demand multilateral solutions and new international institutions.” The Council went on to suggest that “Winning within that system requires first and foremost the ability to quickly adapt to its demands and changes and to integrate into it the access to advanced intellectual, information, and communication assets.”26 The different definition, though, does not apparently lead to different policy prescriptions. The Russian policy in the Pacific during Primakov’s years as foreign minister amply demonstrated its determination to become an integral part of formal and informal international regimes. The government was proactive and proceeded from the notion that within a multipolar world Russia would have enough clout and leverage to influence the situation in various regions; in other words, it would no longer be on its own (“a lone rider” image), but would be part of organizations and institutions. Primakov confirmed this attitude in a policy-setting speech in the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy in March 1998. He stressed that “the absence of economic instruments of influence and the decrease of military power” should not cast doubt over proactive foreign policy nor should they lead to neoisolationism. He also underscored the fact that Russia was shifting priority from military–political to economic goals and that it placed “smooth integration into the international economy as an equal partner” second on the list of priorities, immediately after the territorial integrity of Russia.27 Russia was increasingly active in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and in 1997 Primakov launched a drive to include the Korean Peninsula in the agenda of ASEAN’s regional security forum (ARF).28 ASEAN was viewed in Moscow as one of the emerging “poles of power” in the region, on a par with China, India, and Japan.29 Involvement with ASEAN was growing almost daily, and this organization had recently established a mechanism of regular meetings of deputy ministers of foreign affairs to discuss security matters (the first such meeting was held in Moscow). The third phase of foreign policy emerged after the “pro-American” period under Kozyrev and the initial attempts of Primakov to simply restore Russia to great power status. The new direction represented a positive development and


Nikolai Sokov

indicated that Russia was less likely to play old geopolitical games; it foresaw its role as being part of a broader international framework, in which negotiations were the main “tools of the trade.” However, this did not remove concerns about fundamental “classic” security relationships, especially in the short term. This left Russia in a bind. At that time, it lacked the means to ensure that the status quo would continue, or that it could channel change in a direction that would be positive or at least neutral with respect to its interests. It could only demand that other players take Russian interests into account. When the economy improved and Russia was accepted into the network of formal and informal regimes, its leverage would improve. But it was far from clear whether Russia would have enough time before the situation on the Korean Peninsula began to change. It would also be a mistake to disregard the profound psychological impact that being left outside had on Russia. As a former, and potentially future, great power (by some criteria, a great power even today), it can hardly reconcile itself to its new role. Protracted humiliation is bound to explode, sooner or later, and is unlikely to be in a predictable manner. In a way, the current conditions represent a test of maturity for the states in the region and for those that have an extensive presence there, especially the states that participate in the four-party consultations. Today, it is possible to disregard Russia and to achieve an arrangement without taking into account its interests. This risks destabilization in the future, however. As an outsider, Russia will be able, and will have a reason, to be a “loose cannon.” A more far-sighted approach would be to involve Russia in some way in the negotiations around the Korean Peninsula. This could be done directly or through separate consultations; a link to the ASEAN regional security forum is yet another possibility. It is important to ensure that Russia has a stake in the outcome of ongoing and future negotiations and in upholding stability in the region. Efforts to involve Russia will be welcome because they will conform to the image of the emerging international system.

Korean neutrality as a partial solution As noted above, the immediate Russian interest on the Korean Peninsula lies in the security area. Russia wants to ensure that major military powers stay out of North Korea, and, in the future, maybe even stay out of the Korean Peninsula as a whole. North Korea itself should remain non-nuclear. At a minimum, this would guarantee the absence of potential threats both across the Russian–North Korean border and from the sea to the whole Far East. Long-term interests are built around the economic and political integration of Russia into various international organizations and regimes in the region, as well as into mature and robust relations with individual countries. These goals are essentially the same as in other regions. Russia, for example, went to great lengths to join the G-7 (the Group of Seven), the Paris Club, and the London Club, and is negotiating an agreement with the European Union (EU).

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


To a large extent, Russia’s short-term agenda has anti-American overtones. This is the result of a particular interpretation of events over fifteen years or so, such as German unification, and, more recently, the enlargement of NATO and the emerging conflicts in Central Asia/Caucasus and the Balkans. US policy in general is now viewed with suspicion, and almost any American initiative is met with defensive rather than cooperative reaction. The 1997 publications by Zbignew Brzezinski, who proposed to break Russia into three smaller confederated states, of which the “Far Eastern Republic” should fall into “Greater China,”30 elicited an indignant and angry response in Russia from both the elite and the public.31 An anonymous participant in an electronic forum expressed the dominant view on Russian foreign policy: “What the State Department thinks, Brzezinski says.”32 China quickly became one of the pillars of Russian foreign policy as a direct result of the enlargement of NATO.33 After a relatively slow improvement since the late 1980s, 1997 and 1998 saw a genuine breakthrough in relations. China came to be viewed in more friendly terms than the United States, and Russia was trying to create a “triangular relationship” of its own, mirroring the US policy under Nixon. In any event, despite massive conventional superiority and a lengthy common border, China is perceived as being a lesser threat than NATO: a mid-1990s Russian study comparing the level of threat from the East and that from the West came to the conclusion that, measured in absolute terms (based on the numbers and capabilities of armed forces), the threat from China was three times greater than that from NATO, but the “intensity of threat” (i.e. the probability of an attack or use of force apart from war) from NATO was three times greater than that from China.34 Since the publication of this study in 1996, relations with China have improved further, whereas relations with NATO have deteriorated. Probably, today, the indicator of the “intensity of threat” would favor China even more, while NATO’s enlargement would put the threat from it in absolute terms at a higher level than several years ago. Overall, from the Russian point of view, neutrality for the DPRK represents only an interim, but nevertheless useful, solution in the short term, although the exact response would depend on specific provisions of the international arrangements that would legalize the new status, such as Russia’s participation and the issue of South Korea’s neutrality now or in the future. In the short term, neutrality of North Korea would help Russia to achieve several goals. First, although the probability that other great powers would take control over North Korea or its territory and introduce troops there is slim, formal neutrality would decrease it even further. The new status would be institutionalized and would have the power of international law. As a result, the perceived potential security threats to the Far East and especially to sea routes would decrease. Second, a neutral North Korea would have fewer reasons to pursue a “nuclear option” or – if the nuclear crisis in the early 1990s was only a well calculated “game,” as seems likely – it would be less likely to play the “nuclear card” again. Brinkmanship is always fraught with the risk of failure, and such a failure could


Nikolai Sokov

lead to a military conflict near Russia and possibly even to introduction of troops into North Korea. Third, neutrality might mean that North Korea would spend less on defense and more on the economy and social programs. As a result, the domestic situation could stabilize, which would be in Russia’s interest as well. Finally, and probably most important at the moment, Russia would have a chance to re-enter the scene of international politics around the Korean Peninsula as one of guarantors of the DPRK’s neutrality. Since its new status would probably require a UN “blessing” as well, Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, would have a chance to increase further its involvement in the area. It is necessary to emphasize that the role of one of the guarantors of DPRK neutrality would be an absolute condition of active Russian support for the plan. While it is true that in the absence of serious levers Russia cannot decidedly affect the chances of success or failure of neutrality, leaving Russia aside would definitely affect the bilateral relations between Russia and other guarantors and change its long-term stakes in the region. Moscow would closely watch who would be the first to propose leaving it out, and that country would be subsequently treated as unfriendly, and possibly as an enemy, for a long time. Russian planning on the Korean Peninsula will be strongly influenced by the experience of German reunification. After all, the DPRK’s neutrality would be stabilizing only as long as the DPRK itself continued to exist, and many Russian experts suggest that unification is a matter for a not-so-distant future.35 The main problem would be that a unified Korea might become a US ally or, more properly, that the allied status of South Korea would be extended to cover the whole peninsula. This would be the very nightmarish scenario that Russia is afraid of today, and Moscow would attempt to avoid it. Since most Russian policy-makers are not experts on the Far East, they would look for parallels from more familiar regions and issues to frame both questions and answers – European analogies would be both familiar and applicable, at least on the surface. Following on from the lessons learned in Germany, a sequence of the following three options is likely. The first, preferred, option would be neutrality for both South Korea and North Korea. This option would solve all, or almost all, security concerns in both the short and the long run – regardless of when and how reunification took place, Russia would be free from an unfriendly presence on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, a side benefit would be greater permeability of South Korea for Russian arms exports. On the surface, this option would not be impossible, especially since the DPRK’s neutrality would weaken the traditional rationale behind the US–ROK alliance, i.e. the threat from the North. This option would also be the least likely, however, because both the United States and South Korea would probably prefer to retain the alliance, as other chapters of this book amply demonstrate. In this case, Russia would quickly switch to the next option. The second option would be neutrality for a unified Korea. South Korea could remain a US ally, but, once the two halves of the country were reunited, the alliance

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


would be terminated. According to Robert Scalapino,36 this is not unthinkable, but neither is it assured. Neutrality of a unified Korea could be implemented in two ways: it could be made part of a package on the DPRK’s neutrality, i.e. the future status would be defined before unification, or it could be achieved as part of unification itself, without direct linkage to the DPRK’s neutrality. The first variant would be preferable for Russia because it would provide a more stable and predictable context for policy-making. The second variant would be less advantageous because it would postpone the solution for the future and leave the possibility that it could be revised. It appears more likely that the United States would try to avoid precise binding obligations with respect to the future status of a unified Korea because it would be only logical to keep as many options open as possible. The third option would come into play if the United States blocked a neutral status for South Korea or a unified Korea. Then, Russia would be likely to resort to the “German solution” with appropriate modifications, namely it would propose that after unification US military activities in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula should be limited and the unified Korea’s armed forces should be reduced to a level lower than the combined forces of the two Koreas or, preferably, lower than the forces of just one of them. This would provide at least limited security guarantees for the Far East and the Russian seaboard. The specific proposals from Russia would likely follow the relevant elements of its position at the NATO– Russian negotiations in the spring of 1997 and would probably include bans on deployment of nuclear weapons, creation of infrastructure for nuclear weapons, introduction of additional troops into the Northern half of the Korean Peninsula, and construction of infrastructure for rapid deployment of conventional forces. It is worth repeating that the above options, as well as the issue of the DPRK’s neutrality in general, address immediate, narrowly defined security concerns. Longer term prospects of Russian policy in the Pacific encompass participation in the existing international organizations, increased trade and investment, and enhanced institutionalization of interstate relations, including in the security-issue area. These goals do not necessarily overlap with the immediate security concerns and could be pursued independently. The new network of regimes will include the Korean Peninsula, and here Russia has already advanced proposals (within the ASEAN framework) regarding exchange of information about armed forces, a ban on military exercises aimed at other states, invitations of observers to exercises, and direct communication links between general staffs.37 The July 1997 agreement on the establishment of a hotline between Moscow and Seoul apparently represents a step in that direction. In the meantime, the DPRK’s neutrality and, to an even greater extent, the neutrality of the Korean Peninsula as a whole (either before or after unification) are likely to contribute to this lengthy process by improving the international situation around Russia. Neutrality, especially if it applies to South Korea and a unified Korea, will help to defuse a potential hotbed of conflict in the region and remove various political impediments to economic and financial integration. It will also help to switch the focus of interstate relations from primarily security to


Nikolai Sokov

primarily economic affairs. In this respect, Korean neutrality, whether full or partial, will further long-term Russian interests. Since few Moscow-based policy-makers have sufficient knowledge of the specific problems of the Korean Peninsula, decision-making will be strongly affected by prior experience in other regions, especially Europe. Europe has been the scene of the greatest activity, and the majority of policy-makers in the United States or Western Europe are experts. Thus, parallels with Europe will help to compensate for the lack of knowledge. As Jervis noted in his now classic study, “analogies provide a useful shortcut to rationality. But they also obscure aspects of the present case that are different from the past one.”38 Regardless of whether the European experience is applicable, it will serve as a guide. The experience in European politics is dominated by German reunification and NATO enlargement and is generally not conducive to an early and positive response about proposals on DPRK neutrality. The West and, especially, the United States are viewed with distrust, no matter what promises and assurances are offered. A common interpretation in Russia is that during German unification the West, including specifically the United States, promised that there would be no expansion of NATO beyond the eastern border of West Germany; NATO enlargement during 1997 is viewed as a violation of earlier promises.39 As a result, a proposal on the unification of the DPRK is certain to be viewed as the first step toward one specific scenario of Korean unification: the incorporation of North Korea into South Korea and, following that, expansion of the alliance to the entire peninsula. Most likely, the United States will counter Russian concerns by pointing to the benefits that Russia might reap from even that arrangement: after all, continued US presence will balance China’s preponderance in the region, but Russia will hardly be very sensitive to this line of argument. After all, in 1989–1990, exactly the same arguments were advanced by the United States to substantiate Germany’s continued membership of NATO; the Soviet Union accepted the arguments, but seven years later not only was Eastern Germany fully integrated into NATO but also NATO advanced even further to the east and is now considering the inclusion of the Baltic states. Thus, almost any conceivable arguments in favor of the DPRK’s neutrality will be received with suspicion. Furthermore, events in Europe helped to create the rapprochement between Russia and China. With respect to Korea, Russia is less likely to view China as a potential threat than a straightforward balance-of-power analysis would suggest. In world politics, China is viewed as a potential ally rather than an opponent, and the United States is viewed as an opponent rather than a friendly partner. Of course, politics around the Korean Peninsula are different from the global scene: China is closer and vastly more influential in Korea, whereas the United States is more distant, but the analysis of the Korean situation is likely to be dominated by the perception of the international system rather than by a purely regional picture (as mentioned above, few Moscow policy-makers have sufficient knowledge of Northeast Asia). The interests of Russia and China apparently overlap with respect to the

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula


neutrality of South Korea and/or a unified Korea. The rapprochement with China might become even stronger to the extent that China will work toward preservation of North Korea as an independent state or toward a unification scenario, which would prevent an alliance between the United States and a unified Korea. It is not inconceivable that Russia, out of growing opposition to the United States, would simply support Chinese policy in the region. With the help of Russia, China would probably be able to preserve and enhance its influence on the peninsula, but in the process Russia might miss the opportunity of regaining the status of a player, i.e. the issues of neutrality and unification will be solved in the existing four-party format rather than a broader one that includes Russia. Admittedly, Russia might be better off by pursuing a more flexible line between the United States and China, but the European experience will push it toward the side of the latter. In other words, we are likely to encounter a potentially strong deviation from a straightforward, interest-based, rational choice analysis. The decision will ultimately rest with the Moscow elites, who will introduce two criteria into their analysis: the probability of increased US influence and the attitude of China. Although support for North Korean neutrality is very probable in the short term, much will depend on the fact that China is perceived as being more friendly and less threatening than the United States. Thus, the prospect of neutrality for a unified Korea will play a key role in policy assessment and policy-making.

Notes 1


3 4


6 7

Poslanie po Natsionalnoi Bezopasnosti Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii Federalnomy Sobraniuy (The address of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly on national security), June 1996; Kontseptsiya Natsionalnoi Bezopasnosti Rossiiskoi Federatsii (The concept of national security of the Russian Federation), 17 December 1997; Poslanie Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii Federalnomy Sobraniuy (The address of the President of the Russian Federation to the Federal Assembly), January 1998. It is sufficient to note, as an example, that the Foreign Ministry’s official journal, Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn (International Affairs), did not carry a single large article on the Korean Peninsula for more than two years, during the period 1996 to early 1998. Valeri Manilov, “The strategy and policy of national security of Russia,” Military News Bulletin, 1996, vol. 5, no. 11 (November), p. 59. For additional details of the Russian view on this stage of Soviet–North Korean relations, see N. Bazhanova, O Reshenii Severnoi Korei Razvernut Nezavisimuyu Yadernyuy Programmu (On the Decision of North Korea to Initiate its Own Nuclear Program), unpublished manuscript, September 1995, pp. 1–2. The threat, which also included recognition of the Japanese claim on the Kuril Islands, was made in early 1990. See Alexander Platkovski, Severnaya Koreya v Poiskakh Mesta Pod Solntsem (North Korea in Search of a Place Under the Sun), undated manuscript, p. 7. At least, this is the interpretation offered by Anatoli Torkunov, “Problemy Bezopasnosti na Koreiskom Poluostrove” (The security problems on the Korean Peninsula), Diplomaticheskii Ezhegodnik, 1996, p. 187. This view is shared by many, but it is difficult to assess the validity of claims in the aspect of nuclear energy cooperation. North Korea could not pay for a Russian reactor,




10 11






17 18

Nikolai Sokov and Russia could not finance it; it was difficult to believe that Japan and South Korea would have agreed to finance a Russian reactor in North Korea instead of a US one. For additional details of the Russian view, see Vladimir Li, Mezhdunarodnyi Rezhim Nerasprostraneniya Yadernogo Oruzhiya i Severnaya Koreya (The International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime and North Korea), manuscript, December 1995, p. 19. See, for example, Vladimir Miasnikov, “Security in Northeast Asia,” Far Eastern Affairs, 1996, no. 5, pp. 15–37; L. Zabrovskaya, Rossiya i Koreiskaya Respublika: Ot Konfrontatsii k Sotrudnichestvu (Russia and the Republic of Korea: From Confrontation to Cooperation), Vladivostok: Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography, 1996; Vadim Tkachenko, “The consequences of Korea’s unification for Russia and security in Northeast Asia,” Far Eastern Affairs, 1997, no. 4, pp. 33– 34. Czun Mi Ken, “Investitsii Yuzhnokoreiskikh Konglomeratov v Rossii” (Investment by South Korean conglomerates in Russia), MEiMO, 1997, no. 1, p. 136. Kontseptsiya Natsionalnoi Bezopasnosti Rossiiskoi Federatsii (The concept of national security of the Russian Federation), 17 December 1997, internal document of the government, p. 14–15. The military doctrine was published in Izvestiya and Rossiiskie Vesti on 18 November 1993. The word “groupings” is similar to “groups,” but in Russian military jargon has specific connotation, denoting large-scale groups of armed forces composed of at least ground and air forces and capable of conducting operations on the strategic, i.e. regional, scale. Rodionov made this speech at a conference devoted to the strategic partnership of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries in December 1996, when he was still defense minister. See Alexander Goltz, “Igor Rodionov in search of an enemy,” Itogi, 1997, no. 1–2 (available through the RIA-Novosti website:; this website address has changed since 1996, but the information should still be accessible); Konstantin Eggert, “Defense Minister Rodionov goes on the warpath,” Izvestiya, 1996, 27 December (available through the RIA-Novosti website); Alexander Korzhakov, “The Defense Minister is looking for adversaries,” Kommersant-Daily, 26 December 1997, p. 1. The Russian estimates of the combined military–political impact of NATO enlargement upon Russian security are innumerable. For a reasonably short and complete account, see Vladimir Dvorkin, “Narushenie Strategicheskogo Balansa” (A violation of the strategic balance), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 16 May 1996. Interview with the chief of the International Military Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Defense Leonid Ivashov, RIA-Novosti, 22 May 1997. The proposals of the General Staff were adopted by other agencies and became part of the Russian position at the NATO–Russian negotiations in the spring of 1997, which led to the signing of the Founding Act on 27 May 1997. Anatoli Torkunov, “Problemy Bezopasnosti na Koreiskom Poluostrove” (Security problems on the Korean Peninsula), Diplomaticheskii Ezhegodnik, 1996, p. 188. Anatoli Torkunov is the vice-rector of MGIMO, the Institute of International Relations of the Foreign Ministry. See Arkadi Pauk and Igor Sutyagin, The Russian Navy: Now and in the Future, Alexandria: Center for Naval Analysis, 1997. The authors note that by the late 1980s more than 80 percent of all supplies from European Russia to the Far East were transported by sea via the Indian Ocean. Vadim Tkachenko, “The consequences of Korea’s unification for Russia and security in Northeast Asia,” Far Eastern Affairs, 1997, no. 4, pp. 33–34. See, for example, Yevgeni Primakov, “Na Gorizonte Mnogopolyarnyi Mir” (There is a multipolar world on the horizon), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 22 October 1996, pp. 1, 5; Yevgeni Primakov, “Mnogopolyarnyi Mir i OON” (The multipolar world and the

A Russian view of the future Korean Peninsula

19 20 21 22 23 24



27 28 29 30

31 32 33


United Nations), Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, 1997, no. 10, pp. 3–8; press conference of Primakov on the results of foreign policy in 1997, 23 December 1997 (available at the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation website: Sergei Blagovolin, “New geopolitical situation and the problems of Russian security,” Legislative and Executive Newsletter, 1997, no. 23 (an electronic publication of RIANovosti). Gyennadi Bogoluybov, “Rasshirenie NATO na Vostok i Rossiisko-Kitaiskie Otnosheniya” (NATO expansion to the east and Russian–Chinese relations), Problemy Dalnego Vostoka, no. 6, 1997, pp. 31–41. RIA-Novosti, 22 April 1997. The phrase was used by a columnist of Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Alexander Sabov: Alexander Sabov, “Three centuries of chasing the Leader,” Rossiiskaya Gazeta, 5 February 1998. Reuters, 25 July 1997. An example of this line of thinking is an article by Sergei Kortunov, “‘Imperskoye’ i Natsionalnoe v Rossiiskom Soznanii” (The ‘imperial’ and national in Russian thinking), Mezhdunarodnaya Zhizn, no. 5, 1998. The fact that Sergei Kortunov shares these views is significant since traditionally he has been one of the more liberal experts, both within and outside the government. “Strategiya Rossii v XXI veke: Analiz Situatsii i Nekotorye Predlozheniya (Strategiya-3)” [Russian strategy in the twenty-first century: The analysis of the situation and some proposals (strategy-3)], Part 1, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 18 June 1998, p. 8. The document was prepared by the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a highly influential non-governmental organization (although many of its members are drawn from the government and participate in individual capacity). Reports of the Council can be viewed, with some limitations, as a more open representation of the views held by the government. “Strategiya Rossii v XXI veke: Analiz Situatsii i Nekotorye Predlozheniya (Strategiya-3)” [Russian strategy in the twenty-first century: The analysis of the situation and some proposals (strategy-3)], Part 2, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 19 June 1998, p. 8. Dmitri Gornostaev, “Novoe v Staroi Kontseptsii Primakova” (New elements in the old Primakov concepts), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 17 March 1998, p. 1. See the report about Primakov’s speech at a meeting of the regional forum in RIANovosti, 27 July 1997. Grigori Karasin, “Eastern horizons: Russia and China – partners for the next century,” Vek, no. 15, 1997 (available at RIA-Novosti’s Daily Review, 28 April 1997); Grigori Karasin was the chief of the information department of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Zbignew Brzezinski, “A geostrategy for Eurasia,” Foreign Affairs, 1997, vol. 76 (September/October); Zbignew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, New York: HarperCollins, 1997. It is interesting to note that in an interview in a Russian newspaper Brzezinski carefully avoided any mention of these ideas and posed as a “friend of Russia” (see Komsomolskaya Pravda, 16 January 1998, p. 1). See, for example, Sergei Glaziev, “Rossofobia” (Russophobia), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 18 November 1997, p. 5. His assessment of Brzezinski (although not necessarily policy prescription) is widely shared in Russia. The forum is hosted by Russkii Zhurnal at Vasily Mikheev, “The anti-NATO gambit and Russia’s policy in the Far East,” Far Eastern Affairs, no. 5, 1997; Grigori Karasin, “Eastern horizons: Russia and China – partners for the next century,” Vek, no. 15, 1997 (available at RIA-Novosti’s Daily Review, 28 April 1997); Dmitri Trenin, “Kak Prikryt Vostochnyi Geostrategicheskii ‘Fasad’ Rossii?” (How can we secure the eastern geostrategic ‘façade’ of Russia?), Nezavisimoye Voennoe Obozrenie, 17 May 1997, p. 4.

146 34 35


37 38 39

Nikolai Sokov V. Tsygychko, “Geostrategicheskie Aspekty Kontseptsii Natsional’noi Bezopasnosti Rossii” (The geostrategic aspects of Russia’s national security), Voyennaya Mysl’, 1996, no. 9. For example, see Igor Kravchenko, “The approaches in Russia to problems of conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” paper prepared for the conference on “Rethinking Scenarios for Conflict Resolution on the Korean Peninsula,” Center for East Asian Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies International, Monterey, California, 20–21 February 1998. Robert Scalapino, “Korea: the options and perimeters,” paper prepared for the conference on “Rethinking Scenarios for Conflict Resolution on the Korean Peninsula,” Center for East Asian Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies International, Monterey, California, 20–21 February 1998. Reproduced in this volume as Chapter 1, pp. 9–25. Primakov’s statement at an ASEAN regional security forum, RIA-Novosti, 27 July 1997. Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Relations, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976, p. 220. For the history of German reunification, see Michael Beschloss and Strobe Talbott, At the Highest Levels, Boston: Little, Brown, 1993, and Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice, Germany Unified and Europe Transformed, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997. Although these two books present a detailed account of the events, Russian sources disagree with the interpretation of certain obligations. In particular, Russian experts believe that there existed firm Western obligations not to expand NATO to the East of the then current territory. See Alexei Pushkov, “Lidery Zapada Ne Sderzhali Obeshchanii” (Western leaders have not abided by their promises), Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 19 March 1997, p. 2, and Sergei Kortunov, “Treaty with NATO cannot be a quid pro quo for expansion,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 13 February 1997, p. 2.


Russia and North Korea Ten years later Georgi Toloraya

Introduction Russian President Putin’s visit to Pyongyang in the summer of 2000 highlighted the new Russian role on the Korean Peninsula – or at least the efforts to acquire one, which was quite unexpected for many outside observers. Many of them spoke about the illogicality or even adventurism of such a diplomatic demarche by Moscow, which seemed suddenly to try to take the cream of the milk boiled by others. Other outside observers sought explanations in the areas far from the Korean situation per se. They saw anti-American motives behind Russia’s courtship of “rogue” states – North Korea also being a protégé of China, which gives ample room for speculations about the possible formation of a “triangle” – or Russia’s desire to undermine the American National Missile Defense (NMD) plans by demonstrating that the North Korean missile program carried no threat. Russian policy-makers were also accused of reactivity, the whole exercise of the presidential visit being interpreted as a reaction to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s visit to China in May 2000, or as an aftermath of Putin’s unsuccessful summit with US President Bill Clinton in Moscow in June 2000. The timing of the visit – right before the G-8 Okinawa summit – indeed made Putin’s visit to Pyongyang quite a spectacular event, and it helped to promote Russia’s cause to keep intact the ABM Treaty of 1972 with the United States. President Clinton’s subsequent decision to postpone the decision on NMD deployment1 and the US decision to discuss the idea of launching North Korean satellites in exchange for a freeze on the development of long-range ballistic missiles by Pyongyang2 can be interpreted as the result of Putin’s Pyongyang trip. And developments in the Korean Peninsula in the summer of 2000 proved that Russian moves to restore its ties with North Korea were quite timely. In fact, however, the Putin visit itself only crowned the long-term efforts, which had been mostly obscure or not seen by those who had convinced themselves that Russia had no role in Korea whatsoever. A retrospective is needed to put the record straight.

Freezing and thawing The relations between Moscow and Pyongyang became strained not in the wake


Georgi Toloraya

of the collapse of communism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and subsequent denunciation of Communist ideology in Russia, as is commonly believed, but much earlier, in 1990, because of Moscow’s establishment of relations with the Republic of Korea. The Soviet leadership then took this step – in fact long overdue and absolutely natural – in such an awkward and undiplomatic manner that it severely hurt the pride of the North Koreans (promising and then changing the terms of the promises, publicly criticizing the North Korean leadership, etc.). The North Koreans in turn acted in an extremely rigid and sometimes offensive manner.3 The North Koreans presented an “ultimatum” to the Soviet foreign minister, which proved that they saw the international situation in a rather distorted manner. For example, they tried to “scare” Moscow not only by the threat of development of nuclear weapons but also by indicating that they would establish relations with Japan, probably seeing Japan as a sworn enemy of the USSR because of the territorial issue between Tokyo and Moscow.4 Such behavior left little room for compromise between Moscow and Pyongyang. At the same time, the Soviet economic and military assistance to North Korea virtually ceased, mostly because of economic reasons, but suspicious North Koreans also saw the move as an ill-meant intrigue. The so-called “Gorbachev directive” of 2 April 1991 instructed relevant Soviet organizations to curtail military–technological cooperation with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and arms sales, but not economic cooperation. The subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union and Russia’s democratic market reforms made the North Korean leadership believe that every Russian step in bilateral relations was virtually anti-DPRK and was aimed at subverting the regime and introducing Russian-style reforms into that country. For example, all the students who had studied in Russia in the late 1980s were viewed with suspicion on their return, and many were even purged on charges that they were instructed by the KGB to undermine and overthrow the North Korean regime. The case of Kim Myong-sae, a North Korean student who, under the influence of a South Korean pastor, sought refuge in Russia but was subsequently moved to South Korea, seemed to support the suspicions of North Koreans, i.e. that all of Russia’s actions were carried out “under instructions of US imperialists and their South Korean puppets” and thus were detrimental to North Korea. Many similar episodes followed, including the so-called “North Korean lumberjacks’ labor camps,” also initiated by South Korea. North Koreans were well aware that President Yeltsin despised the Pyongyang regime as a manifestation of Communist totalitarianism against which he vehemently struggled and that his steps were sometimes more radical than his professional subordinates were advising him to take. President Boris Yeltsin’s visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1992 carried more anti-North Korean connotations than was necessary, and subsequent Russian actions aimed against the North Korean nuclear program were demonstratively hostile and offensive. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev publicly threatened sanctions against North Korea, albeit on a “step-by-step” basis.5 All these developments made the North Korean leaders suspect that Russia would rejoice should the Pyongyang regime

Russia and North Korea


collapse, and that it would actually follow the same line as that of the United States and South Korea. These were not Moscow’s intentions, however. Serious experts and decisionmakers in Russia never anticipated a collapse of the DPRK nor the fragility of the regime, even after the death of Kim Il-sung. Moreover, Russia did not regard the North Korean nuclear program or even its missile program as an utmost threat to the fate of mankind, although of course Moscow clearly did not and would not welcome their progress in the context of its own non-proliferation efforts. Although Russian policy-makers and the general public, with the exception of die-hard Communists, did not approve of the internal situation in the DPRK, the consensus in Moscow was that forceful or even uncontrolled changes in the neighboring country would do more harm than good both to the Korean people themselves and to the strategic situation on the Russian borders and that they could be detrimental to Russian national interests. The rationale behind Moscow’s approach is as follows. Russia can with utmost sincerity state that it would welcome unification of Korea without any second thoughts or a hidden agenda. Russia and Korea have no contradictions, unlike the case with other bordering nations, and a strong and friendly Korea as a neighbor would clearly be an asset for Russian positions in the Far East, both politically and economically. Especially in the economic sphere, a unified Korea could become an important factor in the development of Russia’s Far Eastern territories. As well, with a unified Korea Russia would lose a source of constant tension at its threshold, and the delicate issue of US troops would have to be solved sooner or later. A blind reliance on good wishes should not guide the future. Having a wellestablished century-old Koreanology and the experience of intense relations with North Korea for half a century, as well as a decade of cooperation with South Korea, Russia seems to be in a good position to understand the complexity of reunification. An overnight and forceful unification by absorption – given the comparative economic power of the two Koreas, no other way is possible at this stage – would bring enormous sufferings to the Korean nation, similar to the Japanese colonization in the early part of the last century. Open or latent internal conflicts would follow, and hostility between the northern and southern peoples would persist for generations. Humanitarian and economic consequences would also be enormously negative. It should be noted that this line of thinking found some receptive ears in Kim Dae-jung’s administration and Seoul’s engagement policy seems to be based on similar assumptions. The Russian government has always proceeded from the basic goal of its policy in Korea, which can be described in two words – peace and stability. To maintain the stability of a system, it is necessary to preserve the stability of its constituents. So, a stable and progressing North Korea is the key to the stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, provided it acts responsibly on the international stage. The North Korean regime is peculiar, to say the least, but that does not mean it could not undergo positive changes with the passage of time – witness China or Vietnam – provided the security assurances and guarantees of non-


Georgi Toloraya

interference are given to its elite. And there is simply no other way, as any meaningful sudden change of the political system – if not a simple palace coup d’etat – would immediately invite outside intervention and the above-mentioned consequences. Russian analyses also showed that after the break-up of world Communism and loss of allies by Pyongyang a threat of aggression by North Korea was purely hypothetical and could become a reality only if the very existence of the DPRK was at stake. Self-preservation, rather than expansion, had become the paramount cause of the Pyongyang regime in the 1990s. From this perspective, the activation of the North Korean nuclear and missile programs could be well explained. That is, those programs were nothing but measures against external interference. Would Kim Il-sung really spend half of the country’s budget on developing weapons that would prove useless in an aggressive war against the South? Imagine starting an offensive against the South and bombing the United States with nuclear weapons simultaneously; that would be a perfect suicidal scenario for North Korea. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Russia has confronted many new challenges – from Iraq and Yugoslavia to Afghanistan and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) conflicts. Against this background, the Korean situation was also considered to be a threat, but instead a potential one. Russia did not have enough resources and power to react adequately even to real threats. How could it afford strong reaction to imaginary ones, especially when its influence in Korea had severely diminished? This became quite evident in the course of the nuclear crisis in Korea in 1994. While the United States was prepared to go to war to resolve the issue, Russia was rather reluctantly persuaded that North Korea’s potential nuclear problem was a priority issue in international relations. Of course, the problem was important for Russia in the context of its global non-proliferation agenda and in its relations with the United States. Without those, North Korea’s nuclear program would hardly be more noticeable for Russia than that of Israel or Pakistan. The nuclear crisis and the subsequent signing of the Agreed Framework in 1994 decisively increased the role of the United States in Korea, putting Russia on the sidelines. The diminished Russian influence was once again evident in April 1996, when the US and ROK presidents jointly proposed four-party talks that would include the two Koreas, China, and the United States, in defiance of the earlier Russian proposal of six-party talks that would also have included Russia and Japan. Since the idea surfaced in August 1995, Russia had vehemently opposed the idea through diplomatic channels, but was informed about the forthcoming announcement only hours in advance by South Korean officials. It is interesting that both the Americans and the South Koreans in subsequent talks with their Russian colleagues claimed the idea of the four-party talks originated from the other side, thus acknowledging that they knew it was offensive to Russia and that they wanted to shift the responsibility to the other side. Russian pleas and suggestions to become a substantial part of the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organization (KEDO) were also ignored. Russia had gained experience in nuclear cooperation with North Korea, and, in accordance with a

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1985 agreement with the DPRK on the construction of a nuclear power plant, a site had been chosen and a geological survey carried out. It is worth noting that the results of this research were never officially submitted to the North Korean side nor were they paid for, but they were nevertheless used by KEDO, which chose the same site.6

The new approach The need to mend fences with the DPRK without, of course, sacrificing established values or relations with other countries, including the ROK, was becoming increasingly urgent in the second half of the 1990s. Many Russian experts and public figures pointed out that this was essential for the defense of Russian national interests in the Far East. Russia could no longer ignore the 20-odd million neighbors and needed to exert a positive influence on the Korean situation to preserve its security. From a geopolitical perspective, proponents of this point of view argued that it was important to “walk on both legs” in Korea.7 Given dynamic progress in Russia–ROK relations in the 1990s, it was obviously necessary to “strengthen the weak link.” The internal situation in Russia, where the Communists had become an opposition from within the system after the defeat of violence-prone left-wingers and were no longer a threat to Russian statehood, also favored such moves. International developments, for example the growing dissatisfaction among the Russian elite and society with Western pressure on Russia in the wake of the expansion of NATO, also encouraged Russia to move in this direction. The attitude in North Korea was also changing. In the internal North Korean propaganda, Russia was presented as a frightening example of evil brought about by the “loss of Socialism” (poverty, criminality, and wars). However, on the political level, a more sober view prevailed. Russia still was not seen as a friendly country, but it was no longer considered to be a hostile or a dangerous one. It might be assumed that Kim Jong-il, unlike his father, who perhaps would have been indignant because of the “treachery” of “old comrades” and felt betrayed, was more realistic in the assessment of Russia as a country not interested in the decline of the DPRK. He might well have grasped the pragmatic need for both countries to be on mutually beneficial terms. The movement of Moscow and Pyongyang toward each other became visible in the middle of the 1990s when Moscow proclaimed the need for balanced relations with both Koreas. This movement accelerated especially in 1998, when Pyongyang seemed to be less concerned with the possibility of Moscow’s coordination of its Korean policy with the “troika,” the United States, Japan, and the ROK. Russian diplomats noticed a change in North Korean behavior in the middle of 1998, which can now be considered to be a prelude to the “diplomatic offensive” of the DPRK in 1999–2000. It seems quite natural that North Korea would choose Russia as a “trial balloon” for what now seems to be a top-level decision to crack the shell of its isolation. First, Russia is a familiar, understanding, and non-hostile


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country whose diplomats, some of them known by North Koreans for decades, well appreciate the needs and possibilities of their North Korean partners. Second, Russia is not powerful enough at this point of time to resort to pressure or blackmail. Third, Russia still possesses international authority. As a democratic state, a member of the G-8, and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia can help the DPRK to “come out into the open” both by advice and by direct assistance. The new approach of North Korea became visible over the course of the directorlevel consultations between the foreign ministries of the two countries in fall 1998, at that time the only regular intergovernmental channel between Moscow and Pyongyang. The North Koreans were remarkably constructive in the course of discussion on the text of the new basic treaty between the old allies. Many compromises were found on issues that previously seemed unsolvable, e.g. in references to the United Nations and support for Korean unification. It could be speculated that, by that time, the political decision to improve relations with Russia had already been adopted at high levels in Pyongyang. In March 1999, the Russian Vice-Foreign Minister G. Karasin initialed the text of the new treaty in Pyongyang. This was the first time that North Korea had formally agreed to the text of an international treaty based on universally accepted norms. It can be surmised that a relevant political decision was taken at the highest political level. Kim Jong-il probably chose to change. This marked a decisive upturn in bilateral relations. The international atmosphere seemed favorable for that. The ROK’s President Kim Dae-jung’s consistent promotion of the non-confrontational “sunshine” policy and the thaw in Pyongyang–Washington relations in the wake of the Perry report are especially worth noting. However, at this time, neither the Russian establishment nor certain parts of the DPRK elite were ready for a bilateral breakthrough. The DPRK was just preparing for its “diplomatic offensive.” Russia was entering a sequence of electoral and military campaigns, and the war in former Yugoslavia made Pyongyang wary of Russia’s ability to assist in emergencies. Therefore, the postponement of the signing of the treaty turned out to be a blessing. The Russian foreign minister’s visit to Pyongyang in June 1999 was postponed because of North Korea’s dissatisfaction with the South Korean President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Russia in May, Russia’s inability to change the Yugoslav situation, and North Korea’s focus on Kim Yong-nam’s visit to China. However, it gave both sides an opportunity once again to check each other’s positions and to consider the pros and cons. “Quiet diplomacy” played a role, including semi-official contacts with the number two man in the North Korean hierarchy with vast international experience, Kim Yong-nam. During his unofficial two-week stay in Moscow in November 1999, an unprecedented meeting took place between Kim and Foreign Minister Ivanov on the premises of the DPRK embassy. As a result, Ivanov’s visit to the DPRK took place after the de facto coming to power of Vladimir Putin in February 2000, making the visit a watershed event. Pyongyang noted with satisfaction the new pragmatism of Russian foreign policy, putting the defense of national interests as the highest priority.8 Russia’s

Russia and North Korea


desire to introduce “multipolarity” is well correlated with Pyongyang’s official goal of “turning all the world into an independent one.” Pyongyang shares Russia’s approaches on such issues as missile defenses, the NATO expansion, and “humanitarian intervention.” Russia’s new partnership with China, the DPRK’s most formidable ally, did not go unnoticed in Pyongyang either. As a result, if then Soviet Foreign Minister Shevardnadze’s visit to Pyongyang in 1990 symbolized the end of the era of “fraternal friendship” and ushered the two countries into a period of cool relationship, Russian President Ivanov’s visit ten years later opened a new stage of cooperation between Russia and North Korea. The new Treaty on Friendship, Goodneigborliness, and Cooperation, signed in Mansudae Palace on 9 February 2000, became a political, legal, and formal base for the renewed relationship. It is important to note that the treaty is one of the first to be signed by the DPRK that stresses adherence to the UN Charter and universal norms of international law. It declares both sides’ intentions to work toward peace and security in Northeast Asia and is not directed against any third party. Including that kind of language in the bilateral treaty with Pyongyang is a credit to Russian diplomacy. According to the treaty, the sides will have both regular political consultations and “immediate contact with each other in case of aggression against one of them or in a situation menacing peace and security.”9 This can be considered a “soft guarantee” formula for the DPRK. Both sides expressed support for the reunification of Korea as soon as possible, based on the principles of independence, peace, and national consolidation. These same principles, which had been agreed upon by North and South Korea on 4 July 1972, were reinstated by the leaders of the two Korean states in their historic summit statement of 15 June 2000.10

Moscow–Pyongyang: a special relationship? The outcome of Ivanov’s visit to Pyongyang signaled the break of the diplomatic isolation of the DPRK, for which Russia served as an “ice-breaker.” The subsequent establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and several other countries, the DPRK’s new membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the resumption of dialogue with Tokyo were all obvious signs of Pyongyang “coming into the open.” However, what North Korea needed most was economic assistance, but Russia’s ability to provide it was (and still is) limited. To increase its positive impact on Korean affairs and to help Pyongyang further to “come to terms” with the world, Russian diplomacy had to initiate bold moves. A summit between President Putin and Kim Jong-il, unimaginable only a few months earlier, was one of them. The news about the forthcoming inter-Korean summit became a real starter for the implementation of this idea. Circumstances were favorable, since President Putin’s schedule included a trip to the Okinawa G-8 summit and a trip to China on his way to Okinawa. Thanks to newly established close contacts between Russian and North Korean diplomats, at the beginning of May 2000 President Putin had


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already received an invitation letter, personally signed by Kim Jong-il, the first of its kind in the DPRK’s international practice. It should be noted in this regard that many aspects of the Putin–Kim summit were unprecedented. It represented the first visit of a foreign leader by personal invitation of Kim Jong-il, was the first international summit in Pyongyang after his coming to power, and produced the first international document signed by Chairman Kim. The only exception may be the inter-Korean summit, but it is not considered to be an international event by either party. Certain details of President Putin’s visit to Pyongyang were highly symbolic. Not only was a spectacular welcome arranged, with a million people cheering in the streets, but also Kim Jong-il accompanied President Putin to the wreath-laying at the monument to Soviet soldiers, the liberators of Korea in a highly valued reminder the of historical roots of the bilateral relations. The leaders of the two countries spent more than seven hours together and established excellent personal contact, which in itself was the most important outcome of the visit. The joint Russian–Korean Declaration was signed by the two leaders, making it the most important bilateral document in the eyes of North Korea, and reaffirmed the principal clauses of the basic treaty, which by coincidence was ratified by the Russian Duma just at the time of the summit talks in Pyongyang.11 It declared that cooperation between Russia and the DPRK was “in line with the trends in shaping up a multi-polar world and building a new, equitable, and rational international order,” which could “ensure reliable security for all the countries…” Both parties stressed the role of the UN, declared their intention to interact within it, cited the “unacceptability” of the use of force in violation of the UN Charter, and condemned “humanitarian intervention.” It called for “further reduction of the factor of force” and “simultaneous strengthening of strategic and regional stability.” International terrorism and separatism were also condemned. The convergence of views on international issues between Moscow and Pyongyang radically increased over a rather short span of time after the signing of the basic treaty. The most important part for Moscow was the support of its efforts for the preservation of the 1972 ABM Treaty as a “cornerstone of strategic stability” and the confirmation of “the utmost fallacy of references to the so-called ‘missile threat’ allegedly posed by certain countries as justification for the plans to revise the 1972 ABM Treaty.” The Russian side considered it to be a success that for the first time the highest level of the DPRK officially “assured that its missile program poses no threat to anyone and that it is of exclusively peaceful nature.” The two heads of state personally agreed on this formula during their tête-à-tête talks. Kim Jong-il unexpectedly stated that, if any country that was concerned about the missile program of the DPRK would agree to launch two or three North Korean satellites a year free of charge, the DPRK would not need its own missiles (rockets) capable of putting satellites into the Earth’s orbit. With his counterpart’s consent, Putin made public this proposal to the journalists after the summit talks. Kim Jong-il was not scheduled to meet the journalists. That proposal became a “big hit” at the G-8 meeting at Okinawa: “Putin stunned the seven other leaders by relaying an offer from Kim: Pyongyang will abandon its missile development program if the industrialized nations assist in the launching of North Korean satellites.”12

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Later, there were certain speculations fueled by Kim Jong-il’s remarks to South Korean journalists that he had expressed this idea in a “funny talk” (joking) way.13 In fact, the two leaders joked not about the proposal itself but about the irony of the situation, in which little possibility existed for anybody to take this proposal seriously. Later, however, the United States administration declared that it took such a prospect seriously and was ready to have talks on the issue with Pyongyang.14 For North Korea, the stress on the “inadmissibility of an external intervention” into “independent resolution of the issue of the reunification of Korea through the joint efforts of the Korean nation and in accordance with the North–South Joint Declaration” was of utmost significance. For Russia, the agreement on bilateral cooperation to turn Northeast Asia into “a zone of peace and good-neighborly relations, of stability and equitable international cooperation” was also important, as well as to jointly “make a worthy contribution to the activity” of the ARF, which DPRK formally joined several days later. The restoration of cordial political relations was the most significant outcome of the summit. Kim Jong-il firmly expressed his desire to visit Russia. After the visit, the two heads of state made it a custom to exchange personal messages on important bilateral and international issues. Taking into consideration the highly centralized system of the DPRK, the importance of this channel of communication between the two countries can hardly be overstated. The contacts between the military of the two countries, resumed as a result of the Pyongyang summit, are very important politically, given the dominant role of the military in North Korean society. Such contacts increase the predictability of the Korean situation and the overall security there. It is noteworthy that the North Koreans were not totally unprepared for humanitarian cooperation. For example, they expressed their desire to cooperate on Russian language teaching, including the possible preparation of new standard textbooks. Even student exchanges do not seem impossible any more.

Conclusions There is no doubt that the deep economic crisis in North Korea and Russia’s own economic problems severely limit the possibilities of meaningful economic cooperation. The lingering problem of the North Korean debt (about US$5 billion) to Russia, not being properly serviced or rescheduled since the beginning of the 1990s, also put a brake on bilateral business ties. However, after a long pause, these problems have at least come into the limelight. The heads of state instructed the Intergovernmental Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation to discuss cooperative projects in metallurgy, transportation, timber-cutting, the oil and gas industry, and consumer goods production. Stress was to be placed on the modernization of plants constructed with Soviet assistance. Among these, the Pyongyang and East Pyongyang thermal power plants, the Kim Chaek steel plant, the Syngri oil refinery in Sonbong, and several plants in Pyongyang should be noted. However, the Russian side made it clear that it was not in a position to grant aid or credits and that financing for these projects should be sought on a commercial basis.


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The most interesting “trilateral” project involving Russia and North and South Korea is the re-establishment of the South–North railway connection and subsequent transit of goods from the South via the Trans-Siberian railroad to Russia and Europe. Russia could also take part in the modernization of North Korean railroads, provided international sources of financing for this project are found. With the South and North already agreeing on the re-linking of the West coast line – the ground was broken in September 200015 – the reconnection of the East coast line leading directly to the Trans-Siberian railroad is a priority. The issue was discussed during the Putin–Kim Jong-il summit and the Putin–Kim Daejung meeting in New York in early September 2000.16 Russia considers this project to be extremely important not only from a purely economic point of view but also from a political point of view. It would build trust between the two Koreas and become an important factor in the modernization of the DPRK economy. An international consortium to implement this project is worth serious consideration. Increasing cooperation between Russia and the DPRK is not meant to be directed against any third country. With regard to the two Koreas, the Russian policy is not “equidistance” but rather “equal involvement,” i.e. development of friendly relations to utilize fully the potential of cooperation with both North and South Korea with the desire to secure peace, stability, and prosperity in the neighboring area. Therefore Russia has no plan to “squeeze somebody out” of Korean settlement. Rather, Russia prefers to work hand in hand with all the parties concerned for a lasting peace and reconciliation in Korea. The goals of Russia in this region are transparent and could be coordinated with the goals of other players. For a “package deal” to be effective in eliminating various concerns, it could and should be multilaterally developed. The new Russia–DPRK relationship thus becomes one of the important pillars of regional and strategic stability.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Jane’s Defence Weekly, 1 September 2000. ITAR-TASS from New York, 8 September 2000. Vladimir F. Li, Russia and Korea in the Context of Eurasian Geopolitics, Moscow: Diplomatic Academy, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2000, pp. 234–238. Ibid. Izvestia, Moscow, 18 June 1994. Korus Forum, Moscow, 2000, no. 7, p. 95. Russia and Korea – on the Threshold of a New Century, Moscow: Institute of Far Eastern Studies (IFES), 1999. “Concept of Russian foreign policy,” Diplomaticheskii Vestnik (Diplomatic Bulletin), 2000, no. 8, pp. 3–5. Far Eastern Affairs, 2000, no. 2, pp. 7–8. Choson Ilbo, 15 June 2000. For the text of the declaration, see Diplomaticheskii Vestnik, 2000, no. 8, pp. 38–40. Far Eastern Economic Review, 10 August 2000, p. 29. Korea Times, 14 August 2000. ITAR-TASS from Washington, 1 September 2000. Korea Herald, 19 September 2000. ITAR-TASS from Seoul, 9 September 2000.

10 The European Union and North Korea Reinhard Drifte

Introduction The European Union (EU) is a relatively new player on the Korean Peninsula. It has, therefore, received only scant attention despite its considerable financial contribution to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as a member of its board (ranking third, before Japan!), and its humanitarian aid to North Korea. From 2000 onward, the EU’s involvement deepened with the establishment of diplomatic relations with Pyongyang by most of its member states. At the beginning of 2001, the EU’s North Korea policy gained additional importance when the EU tried to maintain through its diplomatic activities the political momentum created by the Clinton Administration and the North–South Summit of June 2000 – a momentum that was threatened by the policy review process of the new Bush Administration. Until a few years ago, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was in many ways very far from Europe’s horizon of perception and interests. In addition, the protection of its relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and with the United States limited Europe’s role. South Korea and the United States have a considerable stake in North Korea, and the EU had to take this situation into account in order not to harm relations with these two important partners. Economic relations with North Korea were not attractive to European countries either. Owing to these circumstances, commercial relations still hardly exist, and in 1999 only five EU member states had diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.1 This situation has gradually changed since about 1997. The main reason for this change was the end of the Cold War, which gave many countries more opportunities to enhance their diplomatic weight, but at the same time also forced them to react to new challenges and developments. For the Korean Peninsula, it meant that both Korean states had to allow other countries to become more involved for strategic, diplomatic, and economic reasons. In the case of the EU, greater attention to East Asia was prompted by the economic success of most East Asian countries; institutional, economic, and political pressures for a more unified foreign and security policy at the EU level; the fear of Europe becoming diplomatically and economically peripheral in Asia; pressures from the United States and Japan to shoulder a larger international burden; and an increased awareness of the security challenges resulting from the instabilities on the Korean Peninsula, e.g. concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missiles.


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To respond to these developments, the EU began issuing a series of policy papers on various countries in Asia in 1994, started to provide food aid to North Korea in 1995, joined KEDO as a board member in 1997, and finally opened up a political dialogue with Pyongyang in December 1998. The resulting policies have not always been supported by all EU member states at all times because of differing domestic circumstances and foreign policy interests, but they have certainly established the EU as an important player on the Korean Peninsula. This chapter traces the development of the EU’s North Korea policy and the institutional, political, and economic interests which lie behind it. It concludes that the EU has played an important supportive role for the relaxation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but that its impact is limited by the overriding dynamics of the South Korea–North Korea–US triangle as well as by the institutional limitations of the EU as an international actor.

North Korea in the EU’s Asia policy North Korea came into the EU’s focus within the framework set out in its Asia paper of 1994 (“Towards a New Asia Strategy”) and as a function of North Korea’s relationship with both Japan and the United States.2 According to this EU document, which was agreed by the foreign ministers of all fifteen member states (Council of Ministers), the “Union needs as a matter of urgency to strengthen its economic presence in Asia in order to maintain its leading role in the world economy.”3 As a result of its growing economic weight and the “unparalleled political fluidity” in Asia, the region warrants much closer attention in order to maintain the peace and stability which is essential for the EU’s economic interests in that region, but also to maintain the “respect of international obligations and agreements on which the Union itself depends for its security, e.g. regarding nuclear non-proliferation.”4 Apart from arms control, the paper mentions human rights, which include the development and consolidation of democracy, as a second subject for political discussion. North Korea itself is only mentioned in the context of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) because it was not yet then a member.5 The EU document stated also that the EU did not contemplate diplomatic relations with North Korea without progress on a commitment on nuclear inspections, respect for human rights, renunciation of terrorism and of arms sales, and progress in North–South relations. The reasons for not having diplomatic relations with North Korea (in addition to the lack of economic incentives) were mostly related to the EU’s relationship with the United States and Japan. Conversely, the regional agenda of the United States and Japan has recently provided the most direct impetus to becoming more involved in North Korea. The United States has been urging the EU to shoulder more international burden, notably in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, i.e. the KEDO and humanitarian aid in which it is itself hampered by domestic opposition, notably from the US Congress. Nuclear non-proliferation is part of the EU–US Atlantic Agenda, and the United States has been pressing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to address this issue as part of NATO’s new

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agenda. Japan has similarly been urging the EU to support KEDO as a quid pro quo for its support of interests important to the EU, notably the safety of nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe and the economic and political rehabilitation of the countries of former Yugoslavia. As a result of this review of the EU’s East Asia policy, the EU agreed on funding of KEDO, followed by membership of its board, and the commencement of food and agricultural aid in 1995. The advent of the Kim Dae-jung presidency in 1998 clarified and widened the scope of EU diplomacy towards North Korea because it did not adopt the same approach as the previous South Korean government, which had often confused its allies with a policy that swerved between allowing and discouraging them from pursuing a policy of engagement towards North Korea. President Kim Dae-jung has been consistent in his North Korean engagement policy and has actively sought the support of all friendly countries for his “sunshine” policy. In 1998, the EU Commission suggested that the member states should go even further. In September, the Commission organized a workshop on “EU–North Korea relations” to enable closer attention to be paid to North Korea. A Communication of the Commission of 9 December 1998 “strongly backs the South Korean policy of seeking to engage, rather than isolate the communist North” and added that the EU would “seek to actively engage North Korea with the international community.”6 The first result was the beginning of a political dialogue at the level of senior officials (Regional Directors) between the EU and North Korea, which took place on 2 December 1998. At the same time, a delegation from the European Parliament went on a fact-finding mission to North Korea. In January 1999, the EU dispatched three top-level officials, including the head of a bureau of the EU executive committee, to North Korea – the first of its kind. On 23 July 1999, the Council of Ministers responded to the Commission’s Communication and published the Council Conclusions on the Korean Peninsula. While the first three points dealt with relations with South Korea, the last three referred to: enhancing support for international efforts to maintain stability and to find a lasting peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula; continuing to press the DPRK to behave more responsibly, particularly on security issues and human rights; and reviewing bilateral relations in the light of the DPRK’s response to the policy of engagement. A more coordinated approach towards the Korean Peninsula was outlined in the Council Conclusions of 9 October and 20 November 2000. They envisaged expanding the EU’s assistance, but this depended on North Korea’s response to the EU and international concerns regarding progress on inter-Korean reconciliation, non-proliferation issues, respect for human rights, and economic reforms. The third round of political dialogue with North Korea took place in December 2000. The Stockholm European Council of 23–24 March 2001 agreed to enhance the role of the EU in support of peace, security, and freedom on the Korean Peninsula, and envisaged stepping up the EU’s diplomatic stance by sending the President of the European Council, i.e. the Swedish Prime Minister, to Seoul and Pyongyang in May 2001. Depending on North Korea’s responses to the EU’s concerns, the member states would consider the establishment of


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diplomatic relations between the EU and North Korea, a goal very much desired by Pyongyang.

Participation in KEDO The most important sign of the EU’s greater interest in the Korean Peninsula has been its involvement in KEDO. It is therefore important to analyze closely the various motivations for the EU to do so. When KEDO was launched in 1994 as an outcome of the US–North Korea Agreed Framework, several EU member states immediately promised some financial contribution at the request of the United States and Japan. Individually, Finland has been a member of KEDO since 1995. However, the EU soon realized that a common approach was needed to realize its policy goals enunciated in the Asia paper of 1994, and, most urgently, to provide tangible evidence of its commitment to Asia at the first Asia Europe Summit meeting (ASEM) in Bangkok in April 1996. In addition, Japan made it quite clear that its financial commitment to the economic and political rehabilitation of the countries in former Yugoslavia, notably Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, and its help with the safety of nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine might be jeopardized if the EU did not reciprocate with financial contributions to KEDO.7 The driving force at the beginning was therefore the ability of the Commission to convince the member states to use KEDO as a means of giving substance to the growing Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU. The CFSP goes back to timid beginnings in the 1960s, and has been strengthened and increasingly institutionalized by the Maastricht Treaty of 1993 and the Amsterdam Treaty of 1999. The Maastricht Agreement gave it two instruments: “common positions” to establish systematic cooperation on a day-to-day basis, and “joint actions” to allow member states to act together in concrete ways on a specific issue. On the occasion of the Madrid EU summit on 16 December 1995, the EU decided to launch a CFSP Joint Action for the Korean Peninsula. Just in time for the ASEM in Bangkok, the EU Council of Ministers agreed on 26 February 1996 to provide a one-off payment of 5 million ECU to KEDO as part of its CFSP Joint Action for the Korean Peninsula and also agreed to support KEDO in the future. In addition, the Council decided to give 10 million ECU more for 1996 and 15 million ECU annually thereafter for a total of five years, once an Agreement of Accession as a member of the Executive Board of KEDO was signed. The EU formally became an executive board member of KEDO in September 1997 when the KEDO Board signed the accession agreement after the EU Commission had signed the Agreement on 30 July 1997. The EU’s membership was finally passed by the original Board members after South Korea withdrew its opposition; initially, South Korea had not thought it appropriate for the EU to become an equal member. For a relatively modest amount – 75 million ECU until the end of 2000 – the EU became a member of KEDO’s executive body. Since the EU is not a state, KEDO also had to change its rules to allow the membership of international organizations,

The European Union and North Korea


including regional integration organizations, of the KEDO Board on the basis of “substantial and sustained support” for KEDO.8 Negotiations had not been easy because the EU took a very legalistic approach, and the three KEDO Executive Board members discovered that they had hitherto not paid attention to many practical and legal aspects. Quite naturally, they had been very preoccupied with the political difficulties of setting up KEDO and negotiating various protocols with North Korea. The EU achieved considerable success in prompting the three Executive Board members to abandon the principle of unanimity in favor of majority voting. Although the EU is formally an equal board member, it is understood that South Korea is the economic, and the United States the political, primus inter pares. Discrepancies among the fifteen-member EU were illustrated by the kind of EU representation on the KEDO Board. On the EU side, it is formally EURATOM that represents the EU on the Board. France and Britain objected to EURATOM representing the European side entirely on its own because of the nuclear nonproliferation aspects of KEDO. It was therefore agreed that the Council of Ministers would also be involved. In March 1998, the first European employee joined KEDO headquarters in New York (Assistant Director, Policy and DPRK Division), a second European employee took up his post at KEDO in May 1998, followed later by a third. The most senior European, who is Dutch, is now Director of the newly created Public and External Promotion and Support Division. Another problem relating to the EU’s accession arose from a conflict between the EU and the European Parliament (EP). Apart from its constant tug of war with the Council of Ministers and the EU Commission about influence and budget, some European parliamentarians (MEPs) argued that supporting North Korea’s substantial coal industry would be more appropriate since it would assist the predominant energy resource supplier.9 In addition, some MEPs opposed the EU’s membership because of their opposition to nuclear energy in general. The composition of North Korea’s energy supply in 1994 was around 20 percent hydroelectricity, 4.7 percent oil, and the remainder coal. The lack of an adequate power grid to distribute the electricity produced by the planned two power stations is still an unresolved problem. But whatever the economic merits of helping the country’s coal industry, North Korea would never be willing to forgo the present project. Coal power stations could not be built with South Korean technology, and therefore South Korea, the only major financier, would not be interested in financing them. Coal-powered stations may be quicker to build, but KEDO would have to restart negotiations of the necessary protocols, effectively saving no time. The total contribution by the EU from March 1995 to July 1999 has been $52 million, compared with Japan’s $35.7 million (which includes a refundable collateral of $19 million!), South Korea’s $62.2 million and the United States’ $152.5 million (see Tables 10.1 and 10.2). While the contributions by the EU as well as by individual member states were substantial between 1995 and 2000, as of April 2001 the EU as a whole had not reached an agreement over its contribution for the next five-year period from 2001. After several rounds of negotiations, the Commission has only been entitled


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Table 10.1 The EU’s contribution to KEDO, 1996–1999 1996

$3,792,000 $2,470,000


$11,195,000 $17,197,497





Source: KEDO, Annual Report 1998/1999.

Table 10.2 Individual EU member states’ additional contributions to KEDO, 1995–1999 Germany UK The Netherlands Italy France Finland Greece

$1,011,485 $1,000,000 $793,192 $571,429 $503,778 $493,235 $25,000

Source: KEDO, Annual Report 1998/1999.

by the Council of Ministers to offer 20 million ECU per year to KEDO, while at the same time demanding a greater personnel presence in KEDO’s headquarters in New York and greater access to procurement orders for the two light-water reactors (LWRs). France, which has a substantial nuclear industry, has been annoyed about the limited amount of procurement orders open to EU bidders. The Green Party, which is the main political force in Germany and which supports the phasing out of nuclear power in Germany as a coalition partner of the ruling Social Democratic Party, is unhappy about Berlin paying for nuclear power in North Korea. In addition, the German government is concerned about the unclear issue of liability for the future two LWRs. The EU’s budgetary constraints also make a bigger EU contribution to KEDO difficult, although the actual construction of the two LWR during 2001 onwards will entail much higher expenditure than previously, risking the EU’s budgetary share being dwarfed and perhaps casting doubt on the financial viability of the whole KEDO project. There is still a considerable difference between the estimated costs of the project and the committed funding by South Korea and Japan.

The EU’s motivations for KEDO Apart from the importance of KEDO for enhancing the EU’s CFSP, European interests in KEDO are primarily in the political arena. First, KEDO is the first operational organization in Northeast Asia that involves North Korea, and could serve as a regional model for bringing North and South Korea together in a constructive way. The success of KEDO would prepare the

The European Union and North Korea


way for managing the huge task of eventual reunification which, to be realistic, will be highly disruptive in political and economic terms, even under the best of circumstances. It can only be beneficial for the EU to be associated with such a venture. Second, the EU’s involvement in KEDO would be confirmation of the EU’s professed interest in a close relationship with Asia. Third, it would be a clear indication of the EU’s interest in a global nuclear non-proliferation and safeguard regime. In addition, Europe is directly threatened by the reported sales of North Korean missiles and missile technology to certain Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Libya, Syria), with which North Korea trades primarily for economic reasons. On the commercial side, KEDO involves commercial and industrial interests that go beyond North Korea and the energy sector. Although most of the procurement will go to South Korea, which contributes 70 per cent of all costs, the EU’s accession agreement stipulates equal access for all tenders (“balance of plants”) except for the nuclear steam supply system and the turbine generators. In addition, European companies will benefit financially from being associated with the construction of these nuclear reactors because of their know-how in nuclear engineering and reactor safety, and their ability to deliver technology, components, and fuel. While the fuel elements will most likely be manufactured by South Korea, European companies could provide conversion and enrichment services. The British nuclear industry has already been consulted by the United States about the stabilization of the water pool for the fuel rods, which were extracted from North Korea’s graphite-moderated nuclear reactor. This reactor is very similar to Britain’s magnox reactor (Calder Hall), and Britain and France both have experience of decommissioning such a “nuclear dinosaur.” Britain also built one of these reactors in Spain, and France built one in Italy; additionally, the UK delivered one to Japan in 1960 – Japan’s first nuclear reactor (Tokai I). In addition, the whole KEDO project necessitates huge associated civil engineering works, and the EU hopes to get a share. One of the major problems is the totally insufficient power grid, which would not be capable of supporting the huge increase in electricity supply from the two LWRs that are now under construction. North Korea has applied for membership of the Asian Development Bank in Manila in order to become eligible for infrastructure loans. KEDO estimates the costs of upgrading the power grid to be about $200–300 million.

EU food aid and rehabilitation programs Since its inception in 1995, the EU’s food aid to North Korea, amounting to 205 million ECU in 1995–2000, has been even more substantial than its contribution to KEDO. Most of the EU’s food aid, notably since 1998, has been provided bilaterally but shipped by the EU to North Korea, and its distribution is monitored by expatriate technical assistants. In addition, the EU has made supplementary contributions of food aid to the World Food Program (WFP). In 1997, the EU was the largest donor among all the industrialized economies.


Reinhard Drifte

In March 1997, North Korea allowed two EU-sponsored experts into the country to assess the situation independently, which became the basis for further aid.10 In May 1998, the EU sent a humanitarian aid mission of sixteen people to North Korea to evaluate the situation. Other missions have since followed. In order to relieve North Korea from the necessity of food aid, the EU has packaged it with aid to support the country’s agricultural rehabilitation. This has comprised the supply of inputs (especially fertilizers) as well as funding for pilot projects on cooperative farms. Agricultural rehabilitation actions are mostly implemented through European non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have established an expatriate presence in North Korea. European NGOs have also been involved in various non-food humanitarian assistance, e.g. supply of medicines and support for improved water/sanitation. In 2000, the EU announced 800,000 ECU ($880,000) as aid to the DPRK for a public health project. The fund, collected by non-governmental organizations such as CAD of Britain, CONCERN of Ireland and CESVI of Italy, went to public health centers and hospitals and to buy clothing and coal (Tables 10.3 and 10.4). The questions for the EU as well as for any other donor are “How much does North Korea need in famine relief?”, “How can distribution of this be independently supervised?”, and “How can food aid be replaced by sustainable rehabilitation and development programs?” International relief organizations have complained about North Korea obstructing the distribution of aid by verifiable means. However, the May 1998 EU delegation considered food distribution to be fairly reliable. In 1998, the EU had its first assignment of aid distributed by the WFP, and part of the aid was given to the North Korean government for distribution because the WFP could not handle more than 200,000 tonnes.11 The greatest problems are encountered with sustainable rehabilitation and development programs, which depend almost totally on NGOs and need close

Table 10.3 International humanitarian aid to North Korea, 1998 US PRC ROK EU

US$207 million (53% of total) US$78.6 million US$46.8 million US$37.4 million

Sources: The Korea Herald, 31 March 2000; Chosun Ilbo, 30 March 2000; and The Korea Times, 30 March 2000.

Table 10.4 Total of international humanitarian aid, 1996–1999 1999 1998 1997 1996

US$380 million US$330 million US$260 million US$90 million

Sources: The Korea Herald, 31 March 2000; Chosun Ilbo, 30 March 2000; and The Korea Times, 30 March 2000.

The European Union and North Korea


contact with the population. NGOs are often more stringent with their demands for autonomous supervision of aid distribution and access to the suffering population than are national or international agencies. Médecins sans Frontières announced its withdrawal from North Korea in September 1998, and Médecins du Monde withdrew at the beginning of August 1997. The doctors complained about the difficulties in getting access to patients and to some regions of the country. In December 1999, the British agency Oxfam put an end to its activities in North Korea. In March 2000, the French aid organization Action Against Hunger (ACF) announced its withdrawal from North Korea because the massive UN aid effort, principally run by the WFP and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) with significant US funds, was essentially a political and diplomatic operation, providing food aid but not humanitarian aid. These aid agencies also complained about difficulties of access to the population. Today, only the following five European NGOs remain in the country, running mainly agricultural aid programs: Concern Worldwide (Ireland), ADRA (Switzerland), German Agro Action (Germany), Children’s Aid Direct (Britain) and CSVI (Italy). This wave of resignations is not only to be found with European NGOs but also with others. In January 2000, twenty-one UN agencies and non-governmental organizations that were operating in the DPRK expressed concerns about restrictions to their aid activities. The Report to the Speaker of the US House of Representatives in November 1999 by the North Korea Advisory Group mentioned that, in 1997 and 1998, the EU attempted to engage North Korea in a limited dialogue on the subject of economic reform, the key points being legalizing larger private plots of private land, liberalizing trade in agricultural inputs, and granting international access and aid to farmers’ markets. All proposals were rejected, and the EU also shelved plans for some development projects.

Deeper relations at EU and bilateral levels The year 1999 saw the beginning of a worldwide North Korean diplomatic offensive that also included the EU as a whole as well as individual member states. Motives for this new North Korean diplomatic activity are the need to overcome North Korea’s economic crisis and to insure continued food aid; to enhance its outside profile to counteract the end of the Cold War, which weakened its major links to China and Russia; and to complement a much greater openness by South Korea, which now actively encourages its foreign allies and partners to increase contacts with North Korea. The Council Conclusions on the Korean Peninsula of 23 July 1999 had shown the commitment of the Europeans at the EU level. In view of the relative success of KEDO and the enhanced coordination by the United States, South Korea, and Japan of their respective policies towards North Korea, the Council of Ministers declared itself “ready to further contribute to a coordinated and comprehensive international approach towards the DPRK.” During 1999 the North Korean side showed great interest in continuing the


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high level contact with the EU. In September, the DPRK offered to hold foreign ministers’ meetings with European countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, but not all European countries were yet willing to do so. The Council Conclusions had also mentioned the “DPRK’s repeated request for a liaison office to be established in Brussels,” but the foreign ministers made it conditional on “identifiable progress in the political dialogue.” On 24 November, the EU and North Korea held their second round of political dialogue. The North Korean delegation was led by Foreign Ministry Director General Kim Chung-uk. The talks included further economic aid, human rights, and security issues. The EU Commission on 2 February 2000 recommended a stronger EU role in nuclear proliferation in North Korea, proposing guidelines and conditions for the EU’s new agreement on supporting KEDO. Finally the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly requested in a letter to European Parliament President Nicole Fontaine in January 2000 that the EP send a delegation to North Korea. The parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee “agreed in principle to accept” the North Korean request.12 After the historic North–South summit meeting in June 2000, the EU and its member states expressed in various declarations full support for the North–South summit. With the advent of the new Bush Administration in January 2001, the momentum of political rapprochement between North and South Korea as well as between North Korea and the United States seemed endangered. The EU saw a need to counter this development, and this perception was strongly promoted by the activist Swedish government, which had the EU Presidency from January to June 2001. At the Stockholm EU summit in March 2001, the EU leaders announced the dispatch of the Swedish prime minister and top EU officials to Seoul and Pyongyang to help invigorate the peace process between North and South Korea. There were reports that European officials saw the need for a bold new initiative to compensate for the delay caused by the new US Administration’s review process.13 The EU’s spokesman clarified that the planned visit to North Korea and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and North Korea were preceded by consultation with the United States. He also stressed that the conditions for diplomatic relations were that Pyongyang should respect human rights as well as move toward economic reform and take steps against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.14

Bilateral level The moves towards diplomatic relations between the EU and North Korea have been preceded by the establishment of diplomatic relations between individual EU member states and North Korea, beginning with Italy in January 2000, followed by the visit of Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini to Pyongyang in March. The reason for this breakthrough was reportedly the influence of the reformed Communist Party in Italy as well as an Italian drive to enhance its diplomatic profile as a middle power. Italy was among the first to unblock 1.5 billion lire (US$803,000) in food aid when the DPRK reported its famine. Foreign Minister

The European Union and North Korea


Dini was quite explicit when he stated that Italy’s decision to normalize relations was not in recognition of any democratic progress in North Korea but to encourage a dialogue between South and North Korea. By April 2001, thirteen member states had announced the establishment of diplomatic relations with North Korea. But the uncoordinated nature of these announcements, as well as the failure of an important member state such as France (in addition to Ireland) to make such an announcement (at least as late as April 2001), betrayed considerable differences in emphasis and interest among the EU member states. In the absence of any substantial North Korean policy change except increased dialogue with South Korea and adherence to the Agreed Framework, the European countries can only hope that their move will encourage North Korea to continue on the path of reconciliation with the South and to start genuine political and economic reform. In the case of the UK and France, which are both nuclear powers, the issue of nuclear non-proliferation is a particularly important point. Germany enhanced its relationship with North Korea “by default” when it inherited the North Korean embassy in East Berlin after reunification. Although the embassy was immediately downgraded to an “interest section” of the Swedish embassy, several North Korean diplomats continued to be permanently stationed in Germany. Berlin was therefore in no rush to go further than other major European countries, and preferred to wait for a change in the general climate. Once the time was judged to be more appropriate, Germany recognized Pyongyang. Moreover, it managed to extract the commitment for the free movement of its diplomats in North Korea, but only time will tell whether this will be honored by Pyongyang. Some European companies are also showing signs of being interested in some involvement in North Korea, although so far these signs rely more on declarations of interest and visits rather than ongoing activities. Several major European companies have sent delegations to Pyongyang. Most of the interest is centered on the energy sector, where North Korea would need considerable investment in upgrading its ailing infrastructure. These companies are hoping that diplomatic relations between EU member states and Pyongyang will facilitate North Korea’s admission to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, which would then provide the necessary finance.

Conclusions The EU’s board membership in KEDO, the provision of humanitarian aid, and the growing ties at multilateral and bilateral levels with North Korea are a clear signal to East Asia, and notably to the American and Japanese partners, that the EU is willing to be increasingly active as a joint political entity in a subregion which is relatively far removed from European concerns. Direct economic interests are only marginally at stake. This may be useful in demonstrating that the EU is no longer just about coordination of trade matters. There are, however, major problems associated with KEDO, humanitarian aid, and the expansion of relations with North Korea. Reviewing the years since the


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beginning of the project, it would appear that the oil deliveries made by KEDO have always been under threat from political incidents and lack of money. Nevertheless, KEDO still managed to continue because of the political interests of the United States, South Korea, and Japan (nuclear non-proliferation, economic “soft-landing” of North Korea, and furthering of North–South dialogue), and KEDO now also has the support of the EU. Contrary to the various North Korean threats – restarting the old nuclear reactors, missile tests, spy incidents, complaints from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about North Korea’s less than full cooperation with its safeguard activities, and the mystery of a huge underground site in 1999 – the United States maintains that North Korea is, strictly speaking, still in compliance with KEDO. The hawkish attitude of the new Bush Administration, its fundamental distrust of North Korea, and rising calls for conventional power stations may, however, stall the whole KEDO project. The EU’s humanitarian aid is very ambitious. Not only does it aim at famine relief but also it tries to support agricultural rehabilitation. However, the experience so far is not very positive. Contributions to KEDO, humanitarian aid, and the expansion of relations with North Korea demand close coordination with Japan and the United States, and careful management in order to guarantee reciprocity by North Korea in areas of interest to all three Western partners. The situation is not helped by the different interests among the fifteen member states. In addition, the European Parliament is jealously observing the EU’s commitments made by the Commission and the Council. There are doubts about the advisability of helping North Korea with its nuclear industry, and there is an insistence on the guarantee of basic human rights. However, when the EU brought up the issue of human rights at the December 1999 political dialogue, the North Korean side simply claimed to be free of human rights violations. Relations with North Korea involve issues on which the EU has hardly any influence. In the case of KEDO, the EU is almost totally dependent on American and South Korean policies. Developments since the beginning of the new Bush Administration have yet again demonstrated the overriding dynamics of the South Korea–North Korea–US triangle. On the positive side of this, however, is the fact that the EU hardly runs any risks. Support of KEDO and humanitarian aid can be criticized on the grounds of stabilizing an unpredictable regime that will not hesitate to diminish the life expectancy of its people and put a whole subregion at risk for the sake of regime survival and dogmatic policies. The regime in Pyongyang does not seem to recognize the moral legitimacy of any capitalist country and seems to consider international relations to be a zero-sum game. This raises the question of whether any longer term or stabilizing interaction along the stark realist terms of mutual distrust and balance of power can be pursued, given the openness, conflicting domestic interests, and relative rationality of democratic countries. Moreover, with regard to humanitarian aid, we cannot expect much gratitude from the North Korean leaders nor from the North Korean people because of the leadership’s control over the minds of its people and the distance kept between the people and those foreigners providing the humanitarian aid.

The European Union and North Korea


The EU’s increased involvement on the Korean Peninsula will draw it into the debate over whether the West is willing or able to deliver those incentives which are implicitly or explicitly part of the Agreed Framework, humanitarian aid and closer relations with North Korea (e.g. lifting of economic sanctions and allowing a North Korean representation in Brussels), and over what stage of North Korean reciprocal steps (e.g. the resumption of North–South dialogue) these incentives can be given. Because North Korea is suspected of selling missiles or missile technology to some Middle Eastern countries, the EU’s incentives would also have an impact on European relations with Iran, Syria, and Libya, which can only be addressed in the whole context of the EU’s Middle Eastern policy. These suspicions would also affect European nuclear (and other weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems) non-proliferation policy, notably toward India and Pakistan. How far can a state be rewarded for doing what is anyway its contractual obligation, i.e. complying with international agreements, and what rewards/penalties should be applied in case of non-compliance or (apparent?) recompliance? Unfortunately, buying time (a major function of KEDO and humanitarian aid) can work both ways, and everything depends on the time lag between providing incentives and North Korean reciprocity that the West can afford in terms of its own domestic politics. Because North Korea is geographically and politically far removed, the EU can afford greater patience with North Korea than can the United States or Japan. This author believes that the risks of continuing and even expanding the support for KEDO and humanitarian aid as well as enhancing relations multilaterally as well as bilaterally with North Korea are more than bearable for the West, and notably for the EU with its very limited exposure. While the risks are negligible, the gains are considerable: Continued and even expanded support of KEDO and humanitarian aid as well as increased EU diplomatic involvement will provide credibility to the EU’s Asia policy; it will strengthen the EU’s relations with the United States, South Korea, and Japan; and it will contribute to the further development of the CFSP. Most importantly, it will allow the EU to play an important, though limited, role in reducing tensions and contributing to reconciliation between North and South Korea.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

These countries were Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Finland, and Portugal. Commission of the European Communities, Towards a New Asia Strategy, COM (94) 314 final/2, 27 July 1994. Ibid. Ibid. The DPRK became a member of the ARF in July 2000 after normalizing diplomatic relations with the Philippines. Associated Press, 9 December 1998. Japan contributed to the financing of the elections in Bosnia in 1996 and 1998 through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Since March 1992,


8 9

10 11 12 13 14

Reinhard Drifte Japan has provided $340 million for refugees in former Yugoslavia. For the reconstruction of Bosnia, it pledged $130 million for 1998 and about $500 million for the four years between 1996 and 1999. The EU and the United States pledged $720 million and $280 million, respectively, for 1996. Japan’s contribution to the economic rehabilitation of Bosnia-Herzegovina ranks next to the EU and the United States in terms of assistance. (Information provided by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, Annual Report 1998/1999, New York: KEDO, 2000, p. 14. For the tug of war over competence and budgetary allocation issues, see Draft Opinion for the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defense Policy, European Parliament, 5 March 1998, and the Draft Opinion for the Committee on Research, Technological Development, and Energy, European Parliament, 17 February 1998. “Strategic largesse,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 5 June 1997, p. 21. Ibid. Japan Economic Newswire, 25 May 2000. “EU Steps into vacuum in N. Korea left by US,” Japan Times, 26 March 2001, p. 3. “European Union takes step towards ties with Pyongyang,” 2001/03/31/world/31euro.html.

Conclusion The future of Korea Tsuneo Akaha

I believe the foregoing analyses have succeeded in highlighting the uncertainty, complexity, and recent fluidity of the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula. Let us now summarize the main conclusions of the ten chapters about the desirable and/or likely futures of North Korea. According to Scalapino, the major nations have a common interest in seeing an evolutionary change in the DPRK, which would allow for intensifying relations with the international community and confidence-building in the security realm. He cautions, however, that evolutionary change and gradual opening to the world are by no means assured, but that they constitute only one of the several possible future courses for North Korea, the others being collapse, emergence and regionalization of internal conflict, minimum change, and open conflict. Unification of Korea – the professed desire of both North and South Korea – may still be anticipated at the end of these alternative scenarios, but from the point of view of minimizing the human and material cost of transition on the peninsula the scenario of evolutionary change is clearly the most desirable. How does South Korea’s engagement policy relate to the scenario of evolutionary change in the North? As Moon points out, Kim Dae-jung’s engagement policy is based on three fundamental principles: deterrence against military threat or armed provocation by North Korea, abandonment of unification by absorption or other measures of undermining or threatening North Korea, and promotion of exchanges and cooperation. The current ROK policy is at least compatible with the evolutionary change scenario, and, if effectively pursued, the policy may even facilitate a peaceful transformation of North Korea. Beyond that, however, an uncertain gulf exists between the two sides’ proposed paths toward the eventual goal of reunification. More immediately, both Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung face domestic challenges to carrying out the promises that they made at the June 2000 summit. A real test of the post-summit inter-Korean relations will be whether Chairman Kim will visit Seoul in 2001 as he promised and whether President Kim will be able to overcome the domestic divisions over the wisdom and efficacy of his engagement policy toward North Korea. As Moon states, peaceful coexistence is essential for reunification and it requires not only the North and South Korean leaders’ commitment to the improvement of interKorean relations but also supportive policies of other regional powers.


Tsuneo Akaha

Mansourov’s analysis reveals that neutralization of Korea has never been part of the mainstream of political discussion surrounding Korea. He maintains, however, that the idea should be seriously explored today because it may very well be a desirable, if extremely difficult, means of preventing great-power rivalry from destabilizing the peninsula and the broader region. This very much echoes the analysis of Russian policy toward the Korean Peninsula by Sokov and Toloraya. According to these Russian analysts, Moscow also wants peaceful coexistence and a gradual opening and transition in the North. Russia is deeply concerned, however, that the process of change in the North and the unification of the peninsula may proceed without a major Russian role. With its material resources seriously constrained and its influence in Korean affairs severely diminished, Moscow may very well favor the neutralization of North Korea or the entire Korean Peninsula, for neutrality would assure equality among the peripheral powers in the future development of Korea. Moscow would prefer neutrality for the entire peninsula, before or after reunification, to one-sided neutrality – a neutral North Korea and a South Korea allied with the United States. It is difficult to say whether neutrality in North Korea would facilitate more or less change. Neutrality for the entire peninsula is highly unlikely because there is very little interest in the South and because the United States would not voluntarily surrender the privileges it currently enjoys as South Korea’s ally. According to Moltz, however, there is little reason to believe that the United States would support neutrality for North Korea, much less neutrality for the entire peninsula. US endorsement of North Korean neutrality is not entirely out of the realm of possibility if – and this is a big if – North Korea took substantial and unilateral steps to establish the credibility of its neutrality declaration. As Moltz puts it, the burden of proof is on North Korea. James Auer expects a more forthcoming Washington in the face of possible North Korean neutrality. He does not necessarily see a contradiction between a neutral DPRK and the US–Japan security alliance, the most important foundation of US policy in East Asia. On the contrary, he believes that a neutralized North Korea is quite compatible with the US goals of avoiding war and protecting US and Japanese interests in the region. I pointed out that Japan would be as cautious and skeptical as the United States about a North Korean declaration of neutrality. I also maintained that Tokyo would adopt a more favorable view of Pyongyang’s move if the latter unilaterally undertook to substantiate its desire to become neutral and successfully sought international support, particularly from the United States and South Korea. Japan’s conservative approach to North Korea is guided by its alliance with the United States and its sensitive relationship with South Korea. Tokyo also has a number of outstanding issues to settle with Pyongyang, and the domestic political dynamics in Japan support continuity and not change in Tokyo’s policy toward Pyongyang. For these same reasons, Japan prefers the scenario of evolutionary change in North Korea and selective engagement. Tokyo supports Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy because the policy is based on the same premise of stability and peaceful coexistence that Japan seeks. According to Samuel Kim, there is no simple answer to the question of how



long the post-Kim Il-sung system will survive and in what shape or form. If one weighs the probability of the three scenarios he entertains, system maintenance appears to be the most likely, system reform the most desirable but fraught with difficulty, and system collapse is unlikely. Kim states that China has cast its lot with system maintenance in the North. Although China today commands a rather unique position and rather unique influence as the only major power that maintains a good relationship with both Koreas, as Kim reminds us, neither China nor any other outside power can make or unmake North Korea’s future. This is certainly the case with the European Union and its constituent states. They can only assist North Korea in limiting the pain of its system maintenance or gradual change. As Drifte observes, the EU has played an important supportive role for the relaxation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but its impact has been and will continue to be limited. In short, all the great powers share one common interest: prevention of violent conflict on the peninsula. If this means preserving the status quo, as it may very well do, the great powers appear willing to take the necessary steps. However, their influence on the peninsula, particularly in the reclusive North, is severely limited. The self-imposed isolation of the North has been the main reason for the lack of international initiatives to pry open Pyongyang’s diplomatic door. Another reason has been the unpredictable, reckless, and even threatening actions by Pyongyang, including weapons exports, terrorism, nuclear development, and missile tests. Another reason is that it is virtually impossible to forecast how seemingly minor changes in the North or in North–South relations today may affect the longer term stability of the peninsula and the balance of power in Northeast Asia. Even if North Korea chooses peaceful coexistence with South Korea, gradual transformation of itself, and a peaceful path toward reunification with the South, the outside powers will be able to influence these processes only at the margin. Ultimately, the future of the Korean Peninsula is for the Koreans themselves to forge. The international community can either frustrate or support their efforts. Until the North and South Koreans find a common path toward reunification, peaceful coexistence is the best short-term future that they can strive for, and the international community appears ready to lend its support. The great powers today are as deeply divided over the future of the Korean Peninsula beyond the short term as they were at the turn of the previous century. Let us hope that the history of the twentieth century has given the leaders of the twenty-first century enough wisdom to prevent their disagreements over Korea’s future from degenerating into wasteful competition and open conflict.


absorption (of North Korea by South Korea) 39, 56, 78, 105, 107, 112, 118, 120, 124, 149, 171 Agreed Framework 14, 64, 66, 69, 80, 82, 89, 116, 120, 150, 160, 167, 169 aid (to North Korea) 10, 14, 91, 92, 111, 120, 165; see also food aid Albright, Madeleine (US Secretary of State) 15, 70 Amsterdam Treaty 160 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty 147, 154 armistice 13, 33, 40, 41, 61, 64, 80, 124 arms control 31, 33, 41, 43, 158 arms race 79, 106 Asia: EU policy 158–60, 169; US commitment 16; see also Asia-Pacific Asia Europe Summit meeting (ASEM) 160 Asia-Pacific, 79, 81, 106, 135; balance of power 16; US policy 16 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) 16, 79, 91 assistance see aid Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) 16, 137 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) 16, 34, 82, 137, 138, 153, 155, 158 balance of power 16, 33, 54–5, 60, 142, 168 Basic Agreement (North–South Korea, 1991) 27, 32, 39, 82 biochemical weapons 31 biological weapons 69, 89 border war (China and the Soviet Union) 105 Britain 163 Brzezinski, Zbignew 139 Bush, George W. 14, 70, 166, 168 Carter, Jimmy 27 chaebol 22, 42 chemical weapons 69, 89

China 2, 12, 43, 49, 53, 60, 67, 68, 71, 72, 90, 97, 99, 102, 104–26, 136, 139; aid to North Korea 120; border disputes 117; division 114; economic power 105; ethnic separatism 117; foreign debts 110; foreign policy 105, 125; future 106; military power 105; minority nationalities 119; open-door policy 109; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 4–5, 16–18, 105–6, 112–15, 119, 123–6, 172– 3; reform 109; Russian view 139, 143; two-Koreas policy 4, 16–17, 112–15, 116, 125 China–DPRK alliance 17, 58, 66, 90, 120, 122, 123 China–DPRK relations 17, 59, 106, 112, 118, 122, 125 China–ROK relations 17, 113, 114–15, 119, 125 China–US relations 88, 115, 118–19 China–USSR relations 113, 115, 131 Chosen Soren (General Federation of Koreans) 18, 109–10 Chun Doo-hwan 29 Clinton, Bill 15, 19, 123 Cold War xii, 1, 3, 30, 33, 66, 75, 79, 80, 81, 95–9, 101, 115, 122 collapse (of North Korea) 17, 21, 22, 32–3, 74, 87, 105, 107, 108–9, 120, 149, 171 Commission (EU) see European Union communism 96 Communists (Soviet Union) 148–9, 151 Confederal Republic of Koryo 116 confederation 32, 37–38 confidence-building 31, 40, 73, 123, 171 conflict (on the Korean Peninsula) 13, 21, 22, 88, 171, 173 Council of Ministers (EU) see European Union Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (Russia) 137

Index Cultural Revolution 109 demilitarized zone (DMZ) 11, 13, 69, 89, 106, 111, 112, 122 democracy (in South Korea) 22, 33 Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo (DCRK) 59 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) see North Korea Deng Xiaoping 109, 113 deterrence 29, 171 divided families 13, 34, 38, 41 domestic politics: in North Korea 56; in South Korea 29–30, 33–5, 43; in the United States 4, 68 Dulles, John Foster 65 East Asia 157 economic crisis (in North Korea) 34, 121, 155, 165 energy 14, 161 engagement policy 1, 14, 28–9, 32, 91, 159, 171 EU–Asia relations 163 EU–DPRK relations 157–9, 165–9 EU–Japan relations 158 EU–ROK relations 157 EU–US relations 158, 166 EURATOM 161 Europe 2, 135, 142; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 5 European Parliament 159, 161, 168 European Union (EU): agricultural aid to North Korea 159; Asia policy 158–60, 169; Commission 159–62, 166, 168; Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) 160; contributions to KEDO 161–2; coordination with Japan 168; coordination with the United States 168; Council of Ministers 158, 159–62, 165, 168; diplomatic relations with North Korea 157–60, 165–6; East Asia policy 159; food aid to North Korea 158, 159, 163–5, 167; membership in KEDO 157– 8, 160–3, 166–9; Middle Eastern policy 169; policy toward North Korea 158–9; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 5, 157–69, 159–60, 173 federation 31, 37–8 Finland 160 food aid 12, 19, 84, 158, 163–5; see also aid food shortages (in North Korea) xii, 121 four-party talks 14, 17, 20, 29, 35, 41, 61, 62, 67, 72, 90, 92, 123, 124, 132, 136, 138, 143, 150 France 162, 167 free trade zone 11


Germany 134, 162, 167 Gorbachev, Mikhail 97, 101, 113, 131 great powers 3, 5, 6, 49–50, 52–3, 54–5, 56, 58, 75, 78, 105, 118, 135, 136, 172, 173 Greater China 139 Guidelines for US–Japan Defense Cooperation 88, 101 Hashimoto, Ryutaro 19, 86–7 history 3, 4; Korea 50, 51–5, 81 Hosokawa, Morihiro 82 human rights 158, 168 humanitarian aid (to North Korea) 5, 91, 158, 164–5, 169 Hwang Jang-yop 119, 120, 124 Hyundai 10, 34, 42 inter-Korean relations see North–South Korean relations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 14, 69, 82, 123, 131 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 109 investment (in North Korea) 10 Italy 166–7 Ito Hirobumi 52 Ivanov, Igor 20, 152, 153 Japan 2, 43, 49, 53, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 67, 97–9; aid to North Korea 14; annexation of Korea 54, 83; bureaucracies 86; constitution 100; defense spending 79; domestic politics 79, 172; economic aid to North Korea 91, 92; history 18; invasion of Korea 51; Korean residents 18, 87, 109; military capabilities 79; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 18– 19, 81, 172; public opinion 87; security dialogue 79; Taepodong missile 15; UN peacekeeping 99, 102 Japan–China relations 19, 80, 88 Japan–DPRK economic relations 84 Japan–DPRK normalization talks 77, 80–1, 83–8, 91 Japan–DPRK relations 18, 80–6, 91 Japan–EU relations 159 Japan–ROK economic relations 18 Japan–ROK relations 18, 77, 80–81, 84, 88, 172 Japan–US alliance 4, 77, 78, 79, 88; see also US–Japan alliance Japan–US economic relations 78–79 Japan–US relations 80, 84 Japan–US–ROK coordination 43, 82, 84, 91–2 Japan–USSR relations 80 Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) 99



Japan Socialist Party (JSP) 98, 100, 102; see also Socialists Jiang Zemin 41, 119, 123 Joint Declaration (North–South Korea, 15 June 2000) 26, 36–9, 40, 42, 155 juche 11, 35, 55, 108, 110, 126 Kennan, George 96 kidnapping: of Japanese 15, 18, 77, 84; of South Koreans 40, 41 Kim Dae-jung 3, 4, 9, 11, 14, 22, 28, 30, 31–2, 35–6, 42, 70, 149, 152, 159, 171; visit to Beijing 17; visit to Tokyo 18; meeting with Kim Jong-il 9–10, 26, 27, 36–40, 82 Kim Il-sung xii, 11, 29, 59, 104, 105, 107, 114, 115–18, 131, 132, 149–50 Kim Jong-il 3, 4, 11–12, 21, 32, 43, 55, 108–10, 120, 151–2, 171; meeting with Kim Dae-jung 9–10, 26, 36–40, 82; meeting with Madeleine Albright 15; meeting with Vladimir Putin 5, 20; visit to Beijing 17, 147 Kim Young-sam 14, 30, 82, 123 King Kojong 53 Knowland, William F. 66 Kono, Yohei 77, 82 Korean Peninsula xii, 32–3, 35, 37–9, 41, 44, 51, 56, 58, 66, 67, 73–5, 77, 79, 84, 88–9, 92, 105, 115, 119, 122, 125; Chinese policy 16–18, 105–6, 112–15, 119, 123–6; conflict 13, 29, 173; division 54, 60, 75, 80–1, 83, 114, 119; EU policy 157–69; great-power rivalry 5, 49–50, 172; Japanese policy 18–19, 81; Japanese rule 83–4; major power interests 2, 23–4, 33, 36, 44; military conflict 140; military threat 130; neutrality 141; nuclear crisis xii, 4; nuclear-free 81–2; Russian policy 129– 43; security situation 118, 124; Soviet policy 131; status quo 5, 17, 19, 23, 51, 77, 88, 119, 130, 135, 138, 173; US policy 13–16, 64; US troops 131; war 80 Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) 5, 14, 19, 64, 79– 80, 90, 120, 123, 150–1, 157–66 Korean People’s Army 19 Korean War 13, 14, 15, 16–17, 19, 64, 72, 83, 100, 105, 113, 119 Kozyrev, Andrei 131, 137, 148 Kumchangri 34 Kumgang-ri 15 Li Peng 114 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 81–2, 83, 86, 87, 100 light-water reactors (LWRs) 162

Maastricht Treaty 160 MacArthur, General Douglas 100 major powers 2, 23–4, 33, 36, 44, 79, 90, 119, 171; see also great powers Manchukuo 105 Manchuria 51, 119 Mansfield, Mike 66 Mao Zedong 122 Ming China 51 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) 41 15, 19, 40–1, 64, 68, 69, 72, 79–80, 147, 149–50, 154, 157, 163, 169 missiles; see also Taepodong missile Mori, Yoshinori 83–84 multipolarity 136, 153 multilateral diplomacy 130, 135–8 Murayama, Tomiichi 92 Nakasone, Yasuhiro 87, 100, 101 National Missile Defense (NMD) 1, 147 nationalism 17, 23–24 neutrality (of North Korea) 4–6, 50–62, 102, 130, 139–43; China’s response 121–4; Japan’s response 78, 87, 89–91; Russian view 134–5, 138–43, 172; South Korea’s response 78; US response 64–76, 78, 95 Nixon, Richard 102 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) 10, 164–6 nordpolitik 29, 30, 114 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) 5, 16, 57, 98, 133, 139, 141, 142, 151, 158–9 North Korea 2, 3, 5, 6, 50, 67, 71, 99, 104– 5, 135; aid 10, 14, 91, 92, 111, 120, 165 (see also Korean Peninsula); agriculture 110, 164; armed forces 112; change 32– 3, 77, 88, 91, 171, 172; civil conflict 111; collapse 17, 21, 74, 110, 117, 149; conflict 88; cooperation with Russia 5; diplomatic offensive 165; domestic politics 56, 58, 68; economic crisis 34, 121, 155, 165; economy 12, 108, 117, 120–1; electricity 12, 161 (see also energy); food crisis 121; foreign debts 110; future 106–7, 171–3; humanitarian aid 5, 91, 111, 112, 158, 164–5; international aid 111, 112; investment 10; isolation 55, 56, 173; military 42–3, 112; missile program 15, 19, 40–1, 64, 68, 69, 72, 79–80, 147, 149–50, 163; nuclear crisis xii, 27, 104, 116, 139–40, 150; nuclear development 66, 69, 79–82, 89, 108, 116, 124, 131, 139–40, 148–50, 163; opening 110; opposition 112; poverty 111; reform 11, 78, 88, 109–10; repression 111; satellites 154; security

Index 74, 90, 149; social unrest 112; Soviet assistance 131; survival 110, 120; trade with Northeast Asian countries 85; UN membership 114–15 North Korea–China relations 17, 59, 89 North Korea–Japan relations 18, 33, 108, 109 North Korea–Russia relations 132, 152 North Korea–US relations 33, 108, 109, 131 North–South Korean relations 3, 9–10, 17, 23–4, 27–30, 33, 36, 42–4, 74, 78, 80–2, 109, 115, 171, 173; cultural 12–13; economic 10–11, 34, 39, 42, 108, 109; social 34; trade 10–1, 12, 34 Northeast Asia 1, 2, 5, 20, 50, 54, 57, 71, 73–5, 77, 85, 95, 99, 105–7, 113, 116, 118–19, 125, 135, 149, 153, 155, 162, 173 Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) 20 nuclear crisis xii, 27, 104, 116, 139–40, 150 nuclear development (in North Korea) 66, 69, 79–82, 89, 124, 131, 148–50, 163 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) 14, 82, 89, 131 nuclear weapons 31, 41, 131, 133, 141, 157 Obuchi, Keizo 18, 84 Okinawa G-8 summit 87, 153, 154 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) 57 options 3, 9, 22, 136, 138–43 Pacific 136, 137, 141 Panmunjom 13 Park Chung-hee 11–12, 18, 29, 30 peace treaty 13, 33, 40, 41, 61, 123, 124 peaceful coexistence (between North and South Korea) 5, 26, 27, 28, 3, 32, 40, 44, 116, 171, 172, 173 People’s Republic of China (PRC) see China Perry, William 152 Primakov, Yevgeni 129, 135, 136, 137 Putin, Vladimir 152; meeting with Bill Clinton 147; meeting with Kim Jong-il 5, 20, 147, 153–4; meeting with Kim Daejung 156 railway (North–South Korean) 13, 156 Rajin-Sonbong 11, 42, 85, 108, 109 Reagan, Ronald 96, 97, 100–101 realpolitik 122, 125 reform: in North Korea 11, 78; in South Korea 12, 22 refugees 80, 119 Republic of Korea see South Korea reunification 4, 26, 36, 40–3, 74, 78, 105,


107, 116–17, 118–19, 135, 153, 155, 163; see also unification Rhee, Syngman 54 Rodionov, Igor 133, 136 Roh Tae-woo 29, 30, 38 Russia 2, 43, 49, 53, 58, 59, 60, 61, 67, 71, 72, 90, 99, 105, 118, 137–8; Concept of National Security 133; cooperation with North Korea 5; economic assistance to North Korea 132; economic growth 137; foreign policy 135; Ministry of Defense 133; options 138–43; policy in the Pacific 136, 137, 141; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 5, 19–20, 129-43, 147–56, 172; security concerns 133, 137; threat perception 134; two-Koreas policy 130 Russia–China relations 139, 142–3 Russia–DPRK alliance 132 Russia–DPRK economic cooperation 155 Russia–DPRK relations 20, 147–56 Russia–NATO relations 134, 139, 141 Russia–ROK arms trade 132 Russia–ROK economic relations 129 Russia–ROK relations 20, 132, 141, 151 Russia–US relations 134, 142 Russian Far East 20, 133, 134, 135, 138, 139, 140, 141, 149, 151 Russo–Japanese War 54 Samsung 10 San Francisco peace treaty 83 sanctions (against North Korea) 29, 33, 83, 108, 148 Scalapino, Robert 87–9, 141 scenarios 3, 4–5, 20–2, 87–89, 106–12, 121, 125–6, 129–30, 136, 142, 171 Sea of Japan (East Sea) 135 separated families see divided families Shevardnadze, Eduard 97, 101, 153 Sino-American conflict 118 Sino–Japanese War 53, 105 Sino-Soviet conflict 113–14 Socialists (Japanese) 81–2, 83, 85, 87; see also Japan Socialist Party South Korea 2, 6, 9, 92, 102 (see also Korean Peninsula); democracy 22, 33; domestic opposition 12, 43, 171; domestic politics 29–30, 33–5, 43; economy 22, 117; engagement policy 171; forces 121; neutrality 141, 143; policy toward North Korea 22; UN membership 114–15 South Korea–Japan relations 18 South Korea-US security alliance 14, 23, 29, 30, 36 Soviet Union 64, 66, 96–7, 99–100, 112–14,



115, 148; alliance with North Korea 131; assistance to North Korea 131, 148; economic relations with North Korea 131; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 131; relations with China 113, 115, 131; relations with North Korea 131; relations with South Korea 131, 148; relations with the United States 131 spies 40 status quo (on the Korean Peninsula) 5, 17, 19, 23, 51, 77, 88, 119, 130, 135, 138, 173 submarines 34, 70, 72 summit: between Kim Il-sung and Kim Young-sam 9; between Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung 3, 4, 2, 26–44, 78, 82, 153–4, 157, 166; between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-il 153–6 Sunshine Policy 1, 4, 9, 11, 12, 26–7, 30, 35, 152, 172 Suzuki, Zenko 100, 101 system-maintenance scenario 107–8, 110, 119–20, 126, 173 system-reform scenario 107, 108–10, 173 system-collapse scenario 107, 110–12, 173 Taepodong missile 34, 83 Tanaka, Kakuei 102 territorial disputes 119, 148 terrorism 15, 68 Theater Missile Defense (TMD) 1, 19, 43, 80 Toyotomi Hideyoshi 51 Trans Siberian railroad 156 Treaty of Kanghwa 52, 62 Treaty of Shimonoseki 52, 53, 62 Treaty of Tientsin 52, 62 Truman, Harry S 65, 96, 97 Tumen River project 20, 84–5 two-Koreas policy: China 4, 16–17, 112; the Soviet Union 130 unification: Germany 134, 139, 140, 142; Korea 17, 19, 22–3, 27, 31, 34, 37, 41, 44, 72–3, 89, 110, 120, 129, 130, 136, 140–1, 143, 149, 171, 172

United Kingdom (UK) 167 United Nations (UN) 12, 123; North Korean admission 82, 114–15; peace-keeping 79, 99; South Korean admission 82 United Nations Command 41 United Nations Security Council 111, 114, 121, 123, 140 United States 2, 4, 49, 59, 61, 96, 136; Congress 71, 96, 158; defense spending 96–7; domestic politics 4, 68, 71, 73–4; economic assistance to Japan 97, 98; economic strength 97; forces 121; foreign policy 4; interests in the Korean Peninsula 13–16; forward deployment in the Pacific 101–2; policy in the AsiaPacific 16; policy toward the Korean Peninsula 4, 43, 64–75, 118, 141, 150, 172; policy toward the Soviet Union 96; public opinion 68, 71, 73; Russian views 142; troops in Japan 98–100; troops in South Korea 13, 17, 23, 36–7, 41, 58, 68, 69, 70–1, 73, 123, 131, 133, 134 US–China relations 64, 88 US–DPRK relations 35, 60, 123, 131 US–Japan security alliance 4, 95, 98–99, 101–2, 172 US–ROK alliance 68, 74, 140, 172 US–ROK relations 4, 14, 23, 35, 36, 67, 69– 71, 72, 73, 74 US–USSR relations 98 Vietnam 115 Vladivostok 135 war 30, 31, 80 war reparations 83 Watanabe, Michio 83 weapons of mass destruction 31, 33, 40, 68 Workers’ Party (North Korean) 81–2, 83 World Bank 109 World Food Program (WFP) 163, 164 Yeltsin, Boris 148 Yu Kil-chun 52–3, 55, 60 Zhou Enlai 102