North Korea

Kim Jong-Un is not 'crazy - South Korean presidential advisor

A second summit between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is likely to take place in February after a North Korean top general visited the White House on Friday. Professor Moon Chung-In, a special advisor to South Korean president Moon Jae In visited Paris during the week. He spoke exclusively to Jan van der Made.

Professor Moon Chung-In, Special Advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the French Institute of International Affairs IFRI, 21 January 2019
Professor Moon Chung-In, Special Advisor to South Korean President Moon Jae-In at the French Institute of International Affairs IFRI, 21 January 2019 Jan van der Made

“Chairman Kim Jong-Un was described as a ‘crazy,’ ‘impulsive,’ ‘irrational’ and a ‘brutal leader,” says Moon Chung-In, ’but when I met him twice, in Panmunjon in April and in Pyongyang in September, he was rational.

“He was well versed in the changing international affairs, he understood important issues, he was very entertaining, and he was attentive.”

According to professor Moon, Kim Jong-Un “tried to explain his position very clearly,” when answering questions.

“He was not lofty. He didn’t show any behavior from the commanding height.”

Moon hinted that language was a bit of a problem. After more than 60 years apart, the vocabulary of the Korean language changed slightly in the two Korea’s. The “majority of the things that we say are very similar in Seoul and Pyongyang,” says Moon.

“But as time passes, there’s been an increasing heterogeneity. We are trying to avoid that kind of heterogeneity.”

Singapore Declaration

Meanwhile, he is optimistic about the upcoming summit.

Officially, there’s no set date, yet. The White House declared last week that the summi would be held “in a month,” perhaps the end of February.

President Trump said that a location “was decided,” but there’s been no announcement yet. Vietnam has  said that it is willing to host this summit.

The first summit, held on June 12, 2018 in Singapore, ended with a declaration that many criticized as vague.

But Moon is optimistic. "I believe there will be progress. If you look at the Singapore Declaration, there is talk about the new relationship between the US and the DPRK.

“Article 2 talks about a lasting and stable peace on the Korean peninsula. In Article 3 they talk about complete denuclearization of the peninsula. I hope that the two leaders can make some concrete progress on those three agreements: US-DPRK relations, peace on the Korean peninsula and denuclearization,” he says.

Source of contention

But there is confusion over the concept of “denuclearization.”

President George Herbet Walker Bush removed US nuclear warheads from South Korea, leaving the North as the only entity to possess them.

“People in the US and South Korea think that denuclearization means ‘denuclearization of North Korea,” says Moon.

But Norht Korea has been arguing about ‘the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.’

“If North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons, then how about South Korea under the American nuclear umbrella?  North Korea will be demanding the lifting of the American nuclear umbrella from South Korea.

“That can be another source of contention,” he says.

Ending the 'state of war'

Apart from that, North Korea wants the US to put an end to the state of war that has been in existence since 1950 and never officially lifted.

In 1953 an armistice was called where positions of North Korean forces and those of the South and their US allies was frozen along the 37th parallel.

The North also says it has now done enough: it stopped testing of long-range missiles and atomic warheads, even claims to have started dismantling testing sites.

Pyongyang now wants the US to stop the economic sanctions that prevent economic development. But first and foremost, before anything can happen, a substantial amount of mutual distrust, instilled during the extremely bloody 1950-1953 Korean War that cost the lives of millions of people, will have to be removed before any progress can be made.

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