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Expert views on how to rekindle N. Korea diplomacy one year after Singapore Updated: 2019-06-12 16:48:00 KST

Communication between Pyeongyang and Washington was said to be ongoing behind doors even after the Hanoi summit fallout,as shown by Kim Jong-un's recent letter to President Trump, announced earlier.
But despite this, senior U.S. officials' requests to resume denuclearization talks with the North seem to be going unanswered or declined, as they say there are no significant announcements to be made.
Thus, some pundits say that Pyeongyang holds the key to breaking the current impasse.

"I would say that the breakthrough will come when Kim Jong-un truly decides to denuclearize and shows some concrete actions. If the North continues to remain firm in its stance to only give up a part of its nuclear program, talks won't resume any time soon, and even they do, they won't lead to any kind of agreement."

But other experts, more lenient with Pyeongyang's attitude do not agree.

"In negotiations, when the weaker side bends in, it's called "surrendering". But when the stronger side yields, it's called "embracing." So it'd be easier to solve this impasse if the U.S. shows more flexibility in regards to the North's request, which has been, since the Hanoi summit, a guarantee to its sovereign safety. In that sense, the U.S. could choose to set up a joint liaison office or even declare a Peace Treaty."

While some experts said that both sides need to yield, one expert was very skeptical about these talks resuming and coming down to a deal.

"After all the propaganda on dealing with the U.S., it would be difficult for Kim to yield first. Such a move could be interpreted by North Koreans as their "supreme leader" admitting to having made a mistake. That is unacceptable. But the same goes for U.S. President Trump. After all the criticism of the previous administrations over their North Korea policies, it'd be hard for him to reward the North without any concrete denuclearization measures."

The expert added that a vicious cycle of provocation, tension, negotiation, and cooling, has been on repeat for 30 years, and that this time is actually no different from the past.

Although experts differed in their approach regarding breakthrough, many were hopeful that the Moon-Trump summit slated for the end of the month, could become a turning point.

"There won't be any new messages coming out from the summit. But U.S. President Trump will likely continue to relay his friendly messages towards Kim Jong-un and I think it'd be a good opportunity for him to come back to the negotiation table."

And while experts agree that there is not much that South Korea can do at this point, Professor Yang says Seoul should continue to play the role of mediator.

"Both sides are firm in their stances, and yielding in first could be thought as a show of weakness, which would further stop them from actually giving in first. Thus Seoul needs to maintain talks with both sides, and urge them to yield."

Research fellow Cheon, on the other hand, says that Seoul should not try to understand the regime when holding talks, but show what an isolated world it is living in and persuade it to change.
Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.
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