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2004.10.07 (11:47:31)
어제 여기 플로리다 주립대학 민주당 대학생들의 모임에서 프리젠테이션 했던 원고입니다.

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About the North Korean Issue
(Tai Uk Chung, Professor at Yeungnam University in South Korea, now Visiting Scholar at the Dept. of Political Science of FSU)


Why am I here?

Jimmy Carter whom I admire has said at this Democratic Party National Convention, “At stake is nothing less than our nation’s soul.” His statement was so moving that I would like to say similarly, "At stake is nothing less than the peace of the whole world, let alone of my Korean Nation." I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here to share with you the heart and commitment for the better politics of America and more peace of the world.

Today I would like to present how the Bush administration has failed to cope with the North Korean Crisis and how much Koreans worry that Bush may be reelected.

As you know, We Koreans have dispatched armed forces to Iraq and for it have had an engineer kidnapped and beheaded by the insurgents. Most Koreans do not agree with the war that the United States fights against Iraq. Then, why did we act contradictorily? It is because we are afraid of Bush. The Bush administration has irrationally deteriorated the North Korean crisis. We are seriously worried that Bush would make things worse, plunging us into an unwanted, disastrous war in the Korean Peninsula. Our government hoped that if we would support Bush in the war against Iraq, then he might listen more to us in the peaceful solution of the North Korean crisis.

What did the Bush administration do?

As you know, North Korea is confronting the United States and South Korea in the Korean Peninsula with the heaviest firearms of the world. We Koreans have lived in a lasting danger of war and are anxious for the peaceful solution of the North Korean nuclear crisis.

In June 1994, Bill Clinton unfortunately came close to launching a 'preemptive strike' against North Korea's nuclear reactors. Then, at the last minute, Jimmy Carter got North Korea to agree to a complete freeze on activity at the Yongbyon complex, and a Framework Agreement was signed in October 1994.

Since then, there came dramatic progress toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. A South and North Korean summit meeting was held in June 2000, the first time in fifty years since the Korean War devastated the whole nation.  The June 2000 summit announced the South-North Joint Declaration for reconciliation and cooperation. Then, in October, followed the Joint Communique between the United States and North Korea, which declared "any of the two governments entertains no hostile intention toward the other and affirmed the commitment to make all efforts to establish new relations free from past antagonism in the future".

However, the Republican Right has railed against the peace process from the outset, until Bush brought a host of the critics into his administration. In the recent debate, John Kerry said exactly what had happened. Even though Colin Powell announced that the United States was going to continue the dialog of working with the North Koreans, President Bush reversed it publicly while the president of South Korea was here. South Korean President, the Nobel Prize winner for peace, went back bewildered and embarrassed.

And for two years, this administration didn't talk at all to North Korea. Instead, they set about dismantling the peaceful achievements, thus fulfilling their own prophecy and initiating another dangerous confrontation with North Korea. The same folks who brought the invasion of Iraq and a menu of hyped-up warnings about Saddam Hussein's weapons have similarly exaggerated the North Korean threat (Bruce Cumings).

North Korea was so deeply disappointed and infuriated that it came to the conclusion that its nuclear deterrent is necessary for self-defense against the hostility of the United States. It had the fuel rods come out, the inspectors kicked out, the watching cameras removed. And today, there are presumably four to seven nuclear weapons in the hands of North Korea.

What is the North Korean Posture?

Actually, the North Korean leadership is extremely eager to find a way to conclude a nuclear deal with the United States. The Bush administration wants North Korea to disarm completely in the nuclear field. But North Korea wants a step-by-step denuclearization. They want improved relations with the United States, which would settle the nuclear issue.

The Bush administration has requested that North Korea, like Libya, make a clear commitment to dismantle its entire nuclear program. But North Korea, for its part, believes that it is entitled and compelled to develop its nuclear weapons capabilities, primarily to deter perceived efforts by a nuclear-armed United States to bring about 'regime change' through preemptive military actions (Selig Harrison).

Bush would speak of "Baghdad's lesson" that any country that seeks WMD should finally be toppled. But North Korea appeared to get the opposite lesson; if it does not have WMD at all, then it would be subject to the invasion of the United States. As you know, the United States and North Korea have experienced full-scale war a little more than fifty years ago and are still in the armistice treaty. So, technically, the war has not ended. In these circumstances it is absurd for one party to insist the other give up their weapons first.

In fact, North Korea declares all the time that its aim is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, not its nuclear armament.  However, it is getting forced to develop the nuclear arsenal for self-defense by the hostile policy of the United States. North Korea's unconventional bargaining behavior led critics to conclude that it was engaging in blackmail in an attempt to coerce Washington into providing economic aid without giving up anything in return. It was not. It was playing tit-for-tat, cooperating whenever the United States cooperated, retaliating when the United States reneged, in an effort to get Washington to put an end to enmity.(Leon Sigal)

Moreover, North Korea needs a deal urgently because it embarked on significant economic reforms in the middle of 2002, and these reforms have intensified the economic pressures that confront its leadership. These pressures make large-scale aid to modernize the country's infrastructure extremely important, particularly in the energy, water, and transportation fields. North Korea knows that the normalization of relations with the United States is indispensible for those reforms.

The Bush administration is in fault

Bush would say that North Korea violated the Agreed Framework of 1994, North Korea cheated and developed a weapons-grade uranium enrichment capability. But Bush's assertion is not yet verified. Most Koreans believe the high Uranium enrichment issue, if any, is not a serious one, but is used by the Bush administration as an excuse to get out of the Agreed Framework. Above all, the blame should be placed on the Bush administration for dismantling the Agreed Framework.

The Agreed Framework does not only tell North Korea to freeze the nuclear program, but also it tells the United States to make corresponding rewards. The agreement’s main provisions were: North Korea would freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear program, which would be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); its graphite-moderated reactors would be replaced with two light-water reactors; it would receive heavy fuel oil for heating and electricity production; political and economic relations would be normalized; and both countries would work toward a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Regretfully, the United States has performed almost none of the provisions except for the delivery of fuel oil. The Republicans, who won control of Congress a few weeks after the Agreement, denounced the deal as appeasement and impeded its implementation. The Clinton administration did their best to maintain a dialog with North Korea, and in October 2000 achieved the Joint Communique between the United States and North Korea, which called for the removal of the hostile policy and military threat. In addition, Clinton was going to visit Pyongyang and meet Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader.

But in November, the Supreme Court recognized Bush as the next president and all of the achievements went in vain. The Bush administration has not made any effort to continue the process, but instead has placed North Korea into the category of the so-called "axis of evil" like Iraq. North Korea considers it as a grave provocation close to a declaration of war.

The hard-liners in the Bush administration have assumed that North Korea would never voluntarily give up nuclear weapons, believing that the North Koreans would cheat on any new agreement. This group has supported regime change as the most reliable way of disarming North Korea. But it is this egocentric, fixed idea that hinders them from seeing the truth and aggravates the distrust between the United States and North Korea.

Donald Rumsfeld made matters worse by demanding revisions in the basic war plan for Korea ('Operations Plan 5030'). The strategy is 'to topple Kim's regime by destabilizing its military forces', who would then overthrow him and bring about a 'regime change'. The plan was pushed by many of the same administration hard-liners who advocated regime change in Iraq.

No More of Bush

Bush is aggressive enough to divide the world into either good or evil. Bush is vain enough to claim himself to be good. But I think Kerry is nothing of the sort. I believe in Kerry. While Bush keeps refusing to talk with North Korea, Kerry promised to make a direct bilateral dialogue with North Korea. Kerry is in the right. Kerry said in the recent debate that he would put all of the issues; the armistice of 1952, the economic issues, the human rights issues, the artillery disposal issues, the DMZ issues, and the nuclear issues on the table. I am sure that the dialogue will pay off.

But I am still afraid that many patriotic, but deluded people in America will prefer Bush. Republicans opened their four-day national convention with salutes to President Bush's wartime leadership and repeated reminders of his aggressive response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Even though the families said, "Our grief is not a cry for war," Bush politically exploited 9/11. The question of who is more qualified as the commander in chief in wartime became the greatest issue in this election. Bush's resolve for the war prevailed in the nation and the horrors of war and the virtue of restraint of power were overshadowed.

In these circumstances if Bush would be reelected, the neocons and right wing would gain more ground, and I am afraid that war or the policy of regime change would be extended to the so called 'rogue states' - Iran, Syria, North Korea, and Cuba. Four more years of Bush may be a disaster not merely for Koreans but for the world.

I, like you, long for the freedom from fear. In fear, we miss friends. I believe the power of the young, like you, makes the world safer and America more respected. The company with you gives me happiness and encouragement. We are the world. Thank you.

==============================================

<Key Documents>

Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, october 21, 1994
http://www.kedo.org/pdfs/AgreedFramework.pdf

Joint Communique between the United States of America and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, october 12, 2000
http://www.shaps.hawaii.edu/fp/us/us_nk_communique_20001012.html

<References>

*Books

Leon V. Sigal, Disarming Stranger: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998),
Selig S. Harrison, Korean Endgame: A Strategy for Reunification and U.S. Disengagement (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003)  
Bruce Cumings, North Korea: Another Country(New Press, 2003)

*Websites

The International Forum for Innovative Northeast Asia Strategy (IFINS)
http://www.ifins.org/index.html

Nautilus Institute, especially The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network (NAPSNet)
http://nautilus.org/napsnet/dr/index.html



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