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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject JPI PeaceTalk with Joseph YUN, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Institute of Peace/Former United States Special Representative for North Korea Policy
Author JPI  (admin)
File
  20181002_181223.jpg  (95KByte)
2018-10-12 오후 3:44:13

 

 

 Q1. Could you briefly introduce yourself to JejuTube viewers?

 

Thank you for having me, very nice to be here.
My name is Joseph Yun, and I am currently a senior advisor to US Institute of Peace. And until a few months ago, I was with the US State Department. My last assignment for US State Department was as a special representative for North Korea policy.

 

Q2. After the inter-Korean and the US-North Korea Summits, there are both anticipations and worries for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. Regardless of the outcomes of the summits, the process of leading North Korea to the path of ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of its accumulated nuclear assets will not be smooth sailing. After the Summits, working level talks for denuclearization could encounter a dead end due to expected or unexpected circumstances. What do you think is the most important strategy to take advantage of the extraordinary opportunity to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, lower nuclear tensions in Northeast Asia as well as the world, and lay foundation to construct a regional peace regime?

 

Thank you very much.
We have seen very big changes over the past few months. I'd say the real changes have occurred since January onwards, and as you said, there have been a number of summits between North Korea and other countries including, of course, there were three meetings with Chinese president Xi Jinping, two inter-Korean summits with President Moon Jae-in. And, of course, only two weeks ago, there was an unprecedented summit between US president and the North Korean leader. And these are amazing opportunities to open a new era to change the strategic equation in North East Asia.

 

I think it’s too early to say exactly what will be accomplished, but so far at least they've done a lot to reduce tensions. So, gone are the times of last year, say one year ago, when we’re talking about military options, so tensions have been reduced as a result. And also, I think there has been big progress, especially in inter-Korean relationship. And we have seen unprecedented openness by North Korean leader. Clearly, he wants economic changes. However, whether he’s prepared to denuclearize completely we don’t know yet. That remains to be seen. So, what I hope coming out of this is a process that gets us to denuclearization eventually.

 

Q3. Building conditions for peace in the Korean peninsula have been in full swing since the inauguration of the Moon Jae-in administration. With North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics serving as the momentum for two Panmunjom inter-Korean Summits, North Korea-China Summit and US-North Korea Summit, the North has been pushing forward for negotiations with the US to exchange its denuclearization for regime security guarantee. Now appears to be a timely moment for the larger, more powerful neighbors – such as the US, China, Japan, and Russia - to put in a “concerted effort” in close coordination with South Korea in order to contribute to the denuclearization of North Korea and tension reduction on the Korean Peninsula. What do you think is the most important roles that they should play?

 


I think there are very big roles for all of them to play. These are big neighbors China, Russia, Japan, and of course, a little further away is the US. And only then coming together with North Korea can we really resolve the issue. And I hope, I hope that, as we mentioned, the summits that have taken place will set a good beginning for a diplomatic process that gets us to denuclearization and a peace treaty between all these countries.

 

So, I think that’s important, but we also have to be patient. It’s very important that we are patient. And this process has only just begun. So, I mean if you think about it what Korean War ended in 1953. It ended with armistice, so the armistice has to be replaced with the peace treaty. Our discussion, certainly US discussion with North Korea denuclearization goes back to early 90s.  So that's 25 years or more and so. Again, I think we have to be patient, and we have to test that North Korea this time is truly willing to denuclearize. We don’t know that, but without testing the hypothesis, we will never know. So, it’s important to press to have the process that gets us there.

 

Q4. Korean peninsula is on the precipice of ‘thinking the unthinkable’ geopolitical game. In the game of pushing back against each other, many experts seem to be quite skeptical about the possibility that Trump and KIM Jung Un can resolve one of the world’s most intractable geopolitical conflicts. Some went so far as to say a best-case scenario would be the preservation of the status quo. But the goal is clear: denuclearization of Korean peninsula. No matter how tenuous a hope for peace may be, we need to seize this opportunity. Watching and analyzing how this geopolitical game unfolds will be our utmost concern. What is your assessment of the major achievements of the recent summit meetings? How do you evaluate the future prospects for the inter-Korean and US-DPRK relations not to mention China-DPRK relations?

 

I think right now, as we have said, tensions are down. So that in itself is a significant achievement. We also must remember that North Korea stopped testing the nuclear devices and ICBM and other missiles. That in itself is a significant achievement. But in order for us to get to what we call CVID - complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization -, we have a long way to go, which is why it is very, very important to start the process. I think what came out of Singapore summit was a joint agreement. And in this agreement, there was discussion of US side guaranteeing security and North Korean side wanting or saying that they are prepared to be reaffirmed. I guess that is the word they used for complete denuclearization of Korean peninsula. So, we need to explore what this joint agreement means by starting a diplomatic process that works from bottom up. So, we get to a concrete agreement.

 

Q5. Under the substantial progress of the denuclearization in the Korean Peninsula after the series of the summit meetings, many people assume that the multilateral security regime for East Asia is still an effective policy measure. What would be an effective way of constructing a multilateral security regime for Korea that includes super power countries such as the US, China, Japan, and Russia?

 

Well I think there are many models for multilateral security. Certainly, during the six party talks, there was a discussion on peace regime to replace the Armistice with a peace treaty. And there are examples, for example, from Europe such as OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) that’s a confidence building measure that comes to an agreement on concrete goals. So, there is a role for multilateral, multi-nation peace agreement. And you know, because the UN Command was so important during the Korean War, you have to have UN also enter into it. So, I think bilateral agreements are not enough. Certainly, there should be several nations most importantly affected, including, of course, two Koreas, North and South Korea, the big neighbors, Japan, China, and Russia, US. And also, UN should play a role in any kind of peace treaty that comes out at the end.

 

Q6. The confrontation between two major powers, the US and China, has aggravated regional peace and security. How do you evaluate the current status of the US-China relationship and its influence in Asia, in particular in terms of the evolving of China’s “Belt and Road Initiatives” and US-proposed “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy?

 

Well, you know China-Us relations have many, many dimensions. You know a lot of it has geopolitical dimension, but also has economic dimension, trade dimension, as well as values dimension. And, of course it’s no secret that China wants to play bigger and bigger role within Asia, as well as beyond. So, there’s gonna be elements of competition, but there also has to be and there have been elements of cooperation. So, it involves both competition and cooperation, and at any given time there is some more competition, less cooperation, or sometimes more competition, less cooperation. Right now, there are several issues that are quite contentious. The principal among them is the trade issue. And I think you’ve seen this with the coming of Trump administration which has viewed trade deficit as a very important indicator of the relationship. Now the US has a huge trade deficit with China, so the Trump administration has concentrated quite a bit on correcting the trade deficit. At the same time, Trump administration is quite aware that North Korea is an important item that could be both contentious and cooperative.

 

So, I think over throughout 2017, they were quite cooperative on North Korea issue, especially with China joining in it in sanctions. But now we’re in a different phase. So, we need to see from this phase after all the summits that we talked about how we merge on North Korea. It will be more competition, less competition, will be more cooperation, and so on. So, I’m hopeful that again as denuclearization is both a very priority goal of China and the United States, there can be cooperation. But I think we have to also imagine the strategic importance of North Korea is so big for China, so we need to see the outcome and follow it carefully.

 

Q7. How will multilateral talks such as the Jeju Forum contribute to promoting peace better? What direction do you think the Jeju Forum should take in the future?

 

I think the Jeju Forum is an ideal forum for the neighboring countries in Northeast Asia and affected countries like the United States to get together to discuss issues of where we’re going in terms of geopolitical issues in Northeast Asia. I think it has made many contributions, and I hope it will continue to contribute more. If I have one recommendation, it would be that we need to get a strong participation from North Korea. So far as I can tell, there’s no participation from North Korea. They are a very important party, so I would hope that at future forum, that you would invite North Korea, and they would agree to participate.

 

Q8. Any last words to JejuTube viewers?

 

For the viewers of Jeju Forum, this has been a very, very successful forum meeting. I’m very happy to be here. This is a great opportunity for many of us who deal with this issue to discuss in an excellent setting in a relaxed manner. But more than that - talk frankly, talk openly, and communicate.