The Words of the Lim Family

Inter-Korean-Relations and Peace on the Korean Peninsula

Dong Won Lim
February 22-25, 2013
UPF World Summit 2013

Listening to Dr. Lim give his presentation (from left) are J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1999-2007); Endo Tetsuya, a government negotiator with North Korea (see page 29) and Anthony Guerra, president of the Washington Times Foundation, who chaired this session on Peace and Security in East Asia.

Dr. Lim. a former South Korean Minister of Unification is the chairman of the Korean Peninsula Peace Forum.

Eight hundred delegates from ninety-one nations came to Seoul to discuss issues related to peace, security and development.

Greetings! It is an honor to be able share my opinion with you today regarding issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula. I want to thank Dr. Kim Min-ha for providing me 'fit this important opportunity. In recent years, inter-Korean relations have soured and what was once a vibrant atmosphere of reconciliation, exchange and cooperation between North Korea and South Korea has now been suspended. Last week, despite the opposition of the international community,

North Korea once again conducted a nuclear test, escalating tensions. However, I expect that the soon-to-be-launched administration in South Korea will contribute to the creation of a turning point for improving inter-Korean relations and facilitating peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In the early 1990s, with the end of the global cold war, the international state of affairs went through upheaval, beginning with the reunification of Germany and other divided nations. However, the Korean Peninsula remained a remote and isolated island of the cold war. However, during the past two decades, the effort continued to bring an end to the cold war on the Korean Peninsula and establish peace. In the meantime, efforts were being made to dissolve the hostile relationship mired with distrust and confrontation between the Koreas and establish a new relationship of reconciliation and cooperation. On the other hand, efforts were underway to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis and resolve the hostile relationship between the United States and North Korea. However, it was not a smooth path. It was a continuation of twists during which a sense of accomplishment, advancement and stability crossed paths with frustration, interruption and crisis.

I will first attempt to summarize inter-Korean relations and then discuss the issue of peace on the Korean Peninsula based on the North Korean nuclear crisis and United States -- North Korean ties.

Inter-Korean Relations

Twenty years ago, North Korea and South Korea recognized each other as a partner toward peace and unification, and adopted the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement (February 1992) to improve inter-Korean relations through reconciliation, exchange and cooperation. However, we learned an important lesson that efforts of improving inter-Korean relations could not be severed from efforts of improving United States -- North Korean ties, but must be pursued in parallel. After taking office President Dae Jung Kim persuaded U.S. President Bill Clinton to promote a peace process on the Korean Peninsula through policy coordination between South Korea and the United States.

As a result, the June 15th North -- South Joint Declaration (June 2000) was adopted through the first inter-Korean summit to be held after the separation of the two Koreas, marking a turning point in inter-Korean relations. As a milestone for improving its relations with North Korea, the United States also adopted the U.S.-DPRK Joint Communique (October 2000). U.S. Secretary of State Albright visited Pyongyang and promoted President Clinton's visit to North Korea. Through a summit conference between Prime Minister Koizumi and North Korean leaders, the Pyongyang Declaration was adopted, through which the two nations agreed to negotiate the establishment of diplomatic ties. In this way, the peace process for the Korean Peninsula was commenced through the efforts of the three nations -- South Korea, the United States and Japan -- to improve relations with North Korea.

The core of the issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula can be resolved by ending the division and achieving reunification. Korea was a unified nation for more than one-thousand years. In the divided state that it is, the competition to monopolize legitimacy is inevitable and it is difficult to escape from the temptation of a zero-sum game. Consequently, the Korean Peninsula is constantly immersed in conflict, tension, an arms race and the threat of wear, thus dissipating the energy of its people. Furthermore, the division of the Korean Peninsula is undermining Northeast Asian peace and stability.

At the inter-Korean summit, the two leaders discussed the issue of reunification, which serves as a premise to improving inter-Korean relations. They both recognized the following points: "Reunification must be achieved without fail through peaceful means. Therefore, it is not something that will suddenly come about but should be promoted progressively and in stages." "Reunification is a goal and at the same time a process." North Korea, which had asserted an immediate federal unification, had changed its position. Both sides agreed to first create a situation of a "de facto unification," not a complete reunification but something similar, while peacefully coexisting through exchange and cooperation before a "de jure unification." In the process, an inter-Korean economic community was to be formed and developed, leading to reduction of armaments, and converting the armistice into a system of peace. They also agreed to form a confederation (North Korea called it a lower-level federation) during the process toward peace and reunification where both Koreas could put their strengths together in jointly promoting and efficiently managing the process.

This progressive model for a peaceful reunification, unique to Korea, does not go against the national interests of the other nations who have an interest in the Korean Peninsula. I am convinced that it is an ideal and realistic methodology that is sufficient in garnering the support and cooperation of the neighboring countries beginning with the United States.

As action was taken under the June 15th North -- South Joint Declaration, it opened up a new era of reconciliation and cooperation. Severed railroads and roads were connected and for the first time in the fifty years since the division, people and goods began to travel between the Koreas across the Military Demarcation Line. A lot of traffic and exchange was generated across many fields including the economy, society, culture and religion. The achievement that stood out the most was the construction of the Kaesong Industrial Complex and the fact that North Korean and South Korean laborers were working side-by-side. Currently, more than 50,000 North Korean laborers are working with technicians from South Korea in more than 120 South Korean companies in this complex.

As such traffic, exchange and cooperation increased, hostilities began to subside, deflating tensions. The communal spirit of the people was cultivated and the shoot of mutual trust began to bud. The path ahead was still long and dire but we had made a valuable start. With the increase of exchange and cooperation between North Korea and South Korea, outside information began to seep into North Korea, a market economy began to grow and social control inevitably began to relax. I was impressed with one North Korean expert from Switzerland who resided in North Korea for a couple of years who recently expressed the recent changes in North Korea as the 5Ms: Market (the market economy was invigorated), Money (people came to understand the taste of money). Mobile (information began to circulate through the distribution of cell phones), Motor (increase of automobiles) and Mind-set (change in the awareness of the people).

However, unfortunately, inter-Korean relations have been strained during the past five years, and the North Korean nuclear crisis and U.S. -- DPRK ties have not progressed at all. The Myeong Bak Lee Administration in South Korea chose a path that was directly opposite to past administrations. It stuck to its rigid rule of not improving relations with North Korea without resolution of the nuclear crisis. All agreements to promote reconciliation and cooperation that had been adopted by the two nations were rescinded. Rather than a progressive peaceful reunification, anticipation of North Korea's collapse and unification through absorption arose. Rather than an engagement policy for reconciliation and cooperation, the administration pursued a confrontational policy of sanctions and attempts to pressure North Korea into submission.

This was repulsed by North Korea and led to conflict, enmity, and confrontation between North Korea and South Korea for every single incident, further aggravated tensions and led to military clashes. Dialogue, exchange, trade and economic cooperation between the two Koreas and even humanitarian aid to North Korea was brought to a halt. Only the Kaeson Industrial Complex was left to keep these efforts alive.

For the past twenty years, North Korea's policies toward South Korea pursued improving relations with South Korea, the United States and Japan. Once this policy failed, it changed directions and began to pursue a policy toward North Korea of strengthening cooperation with China and Russia, which were rising to power. North Korea's trade with China amounts to 90 percent of its entire trade.

North Korea's Jong Un Kim, who succeeded in the hereditary succession of power early last year, began to consolidate his power base and had to shoulder the heavy burden of improving the life of his people and seek out ways to invigorate the economy. In the meantime, it appears that Kim will strengthen ties with China while on the other hand invest himself in diplomatic endeavors for improving relations with the United States for the sake of national security and preserving his regime.

The North Korean Nuclear Crisis

On February 12, despite opposition from the international community, North Korea went on to hold another underground nuclear test. This nuclear test was the third of its kind (around 7 kt) after the first one seven years ago (October 2006) and second (May 2009) held four years ago. North Korea claimed that this test proved that "unlike the past, the explosive power was greater, and the test was carried out perfectly while maintaining high standards by using a smaller and lighter atomic bomb."

Why do you think North Korea continues to hold these nuclear tests despite the pressure and sanctions from the international community? There is a need to observe this from a political, military and technical aspect.

Politically, North Korea intends to use its nuclear development as a diplomatic negotiation card. North Korea has continuously asserted that it wanted to normalize relations with the United States and enter a peace treaty with her. North Korea also claimed that the nuclear test this time was aimed at the United States. Although North Korea had sought its survival by normalizing relations with the United States, its erroneous decision to use the nuclear card has resulted in aggravating the situation.

On the other, hand, military-wise, it intends to secure nuclear weapons that can serve as a deterrent in order to preserve national security and its regime. North Korea was greatly shocked and threatened by the Bush Doctrine and the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Since then, it has adhered to its hardline stance that it would never abandon its nuclear development without removing this security threat. However, this nuclear development has further made things difficult for an impoverished North Korea and has caused international isolation. Furthermore, instead of securing its safety it has instead led North Korea into a crisis.

North Korea also believes that improving its nuclear technology is the only way to enhance its diplomatic bargaining power and bolster its military deterrent. By repeating nuclear tests, North Korea continues to make effort in securing a nuclear missile by reducing the size and weight of the atomic bomb so that it can be loaded on a missile.

More than twenty years have passed since the start of the North Korean nuclear crisis. North Korea's development toward nuclear warfare must never be tolerated. To do so would undermine peace and stability in not only Northeast Asia but also the world. Furthermore, there is a risk that it will escalate into nuclear proliferation. We cannot exclude the risk of Korea and Japan being tempted into arming themselves with nuclear weapons. Therefore, this must be stop at all costs. The question is, How? To this day, the United States has used two different approaches to this problem.

The Clinton Administration recognized North Korea as a partner for dialogue and negotiations. In 1994, the DPRK finally adopted the U.S. -- DPRK Agreed Framework and halted its nuclear development at the stage just before producing nuclear material. 'the U.S. employed an approach of normalizing U.S. -- DPRK ties in exchange for North Korea's abandonment of its nuclear development plan. This Agreed Framework was upheld and implemented for eight years and contributed to the promotion of a peace process on the Korean Peninsula and to the resolution of the nuclear crisis.

The Bush Administration, however, claimed that it could not trust North Korea, and under an "Anything But Clinton" mantra, completely rejected Clinton's North Korean policies. Under the Bush Doctrine, it designated North Korea alongside Iraq and Iran as the axis of evil and promoted a hostile policy of bringing about regime change in North Korea through military preemption. The Agreed Framework was annulled and North Korea resumed its nuclear development.

The Bush Administration used an approach of applying pressure and sanctions to have North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions before anything else. North Korea responded by demanding that the United States first abandon its hostile policies and guarantee peaceful coexistence through normalization of U.S. -- DPRK relations. In the meantime, it reprocessed its nuclear material and came to the stage of going forward with its nuclear tests.

Fortunately, during the Six-Party Talks that included the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas, all parties agreed to the basic principles for resolving the nuclear crisis through the September 19th Joint Declaration in 2005. It was decided to simultaneously pursue, side-by-side, the resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis with normalization of North Korea's relations with the United States and Japan. Furthermore, all parties agreed to hold peace talks with the relevant parties for switching the military armistice into a more solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. These efforts set a reasonable and realistic direction for the deconstruction of the cold war structure in Northeast Asia.

Although there were many twists and turns on the way, the six-party agreement did achieve some results to a certain extent. North Korea dismantled its nuclear facilities and was no longer able to produce plutonium. In response, the United States took action to delist North Korea from the Trading With the Enemy Act and from its list of nations that support terror. It seemed that the two nations had approached the stage where North Korea would destroy any nuclear material and weapons it had produced and stored, and the United States would take measures to normalize its ties with North Korea.

However, during the early months after the launch of the Obama Administration, North Korea recklessly launched a missile (or satellite rocket) and held another nuclear test, which resulted in straining its ties with the U.S. and incurred UN sanctions. More than four years have passed since the Six- Party Talks were suspended while the Obama Administration waited with "strategic patience" for North Korea to change its attitude. During this time, North Korea's nuclear development continued, which in turn brought more pressure and sanctions. This vicious cycle continued and will likely bring us to face a third nuclear test by North Korea. Now we are faced with the challenge of ending this vicious cycle and bringing about a great turning point.

The way to resolve this crisis has already been presented. Mutual distrust and a lack of determination to take action is the issue. Now it seems that lengthy discussions on sanctions is inevitable. However, I believe that an additional deterioration of this situation will be prevented and after a cooling-down period, both will eventually have to pursue dialogue and negotiations.

The experience of the failures of the past decade has shown us that the North Korean nuclear crisis cannot be resolved simply with pressure and sanctions. Neither is military action that might trigger war the solution. We should give what can be given and receive what can be received. Both carrots and sticks should be used. North Korea should be made to gain the conviction that it can find greater stability, and still prosper and develop, without having nuclear weapons.

Instead of just focusing on the nuclear crisis, what is needed is a more comprehensive and fundamental approach to the issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula. A peace process on the Korean Peninsula should be pursued that simultaneously promotes improvements in inter-Korean relations, normalization of U.S. -- DPRK ties and control of military spending, creating the conditions to facilitate the opening of and reformation in North Korea and the building of a peaceful regime.

The United States and North Korea should pursue dialogue and negotiation in earnest. North Korea should hold a moratorium on its nuclear and missile-launching activities while the United States should strive to normalize relations.

This year marks the sixtieth year since the signing of the Armistice Agreement. As was agreed during the Six-Party Talks, the United States, China and both Koreas (the relevant parties to the Armistice Agreement) should begin to hold a four-party peace talks. I am sure it would take quite some time to actually sign a peace agreement, but I am certain that tensions could be deflated and a more favorable environment and conditions could be created in bringing resolution to these issues by pursuing a peace process for the Korean Peninsula through such peace talks. I hope for the active support and cooperation of the international community.

In conclusion, it is important to improve inter-Korean relations. By improving relations between the two Koreas we should lead the way for a peace process on the Korean Peninsula. Once inter-Korean relations improve, as it had during the Dae Jung Kim -- Bill Clinton era, the United States and China will also work together. The improvement of inter-Korean relations will contribute to the improvement of U.S. -- DPRK ties and also aid the cooperative relations between the United States and China. Dialogue between North Korea and South Korea should he pursued while cooperation with the relevant nations regarding the nuclear issue should also be carried out toward a resolution.

President Geun Hye Park pledged to comply with and implement the agreements between the Koreas including the June 15 Joint Declaration and to pursue unconditionally dialogue between North Korea and South Korea. She also had pledged to provide humanitarian support to North Korea regardless of the political climate and pursue trust-building measures. I believe her pledge will be faithfully carried out and inter-Korean relations will improve to the point that peace on the Korean Peninsula can be made.

The best way to build trust is in approaching the nuclear tests not as a challenge or crisis but as an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations. South Korea should first resume the humanitarian aid which it had unilaterally suspended, and inter-Korean trade and traffic between the two nations, while actively pursuing dialogue with North Korea.

Without effort to make peace, it will be more difficult to protect peace. A comprehensive and fundamental approach in promoting the peace process on the Korean Peninsula would be a way of bringing peace and stability not only to the Korean Peninsula but also to the region of Northeast Asia. Thank you very much.

Debbie Remengesau, first lady of Palau; Alcino Pinto, president of the National Assembly of Säo Tome and Principe; Kay Rala Xanana Gusmso, prime minister of Timor Leste; Helen Fono, wife of the deputy prime minister of the Solomon Island at UPF World Assembly 2013

Peace, Security and Development: How to Deal with a Nuclear North Korea?
Endo Tetsuya

Ambassador Endo is a senior adjunct fellow at the Center for International Public Policy Studies, Japan

Japan has two major pending issues on their diplomatic agenda before they can heal their last remaining wounds from the Second World War. One is the territorial dispute with Russia, with whom Japan must conclude a peace treaty, and the other is North Korea, with whom Japan has to normalize relations. On the latter matter, I have represented the Japanese government in talks with them for a number of years. As preconditions for the full normalization of relations with North Korea, Japan is seeking a solution to the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea as well as a solution to the problems derived from their nuclear and missile program.

As a compromise to the latter, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was launched by Japan, the United States and South Korea in 1995. It was dismantled, however, when North Korea's uranium enrichment program was exposed. I was disappointed, as I considered myself one of KEDO's architects.

In spite of this development, in order to avert the North Korean nuclear program, the Six- Party Talks were held, but they were suspended without a tangible outcome. Meanwhile, the situation had deteriorated as Pyongyang conducted several missile launches and nuclear tests.

Though their real progress in nuclear and missile technology is unclear, it is assumed that Pyongyang has stockpiled a considerable amount of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium, and the accuracy of its intermediate-to-long-range ballistic missiles has significantly improved. Presumably, the long-range ballistic missiles (advanced Taepodong missiles) may be capable of reaching the North American continent. Pyongyang is perhaps most keen to miniaturize the nuclear warheads to be loaded onto missiles, which may happen in time.

So why does North Korea pursue a nuclear weapons program? Incidentally, nuclear weapons, missiles, and their transport vehicles are inseparable. In Pyongyang's domestic politics, the program consolidates the military's support for the regime. Militarily, it supplements their conventional weaponry, which is inferior to South Korea's as a result of North Korea's economic hardships. In diplomatic terms, the so-called nuclear card enhances Pyongyang's status and is a vital deterrent to the United States, even forcing the U.S. to the negotiating table. Apparently, Pyongyang's objectives have been achieved to some degree.

In any case, it is next to impossible to obligate a country to abandon their nuclear and missile technologies, once they have been acquired. So far, South Africa has been the only exception in this regard.

Since international sanctions have been imposed by the United Nations and some individual nations, the North Korean regime sustains itself, though only barely, thanks to its special ties with China.

Due to the incredible difficulty in denuclearizing Pyongyang, the international community must respond with either massive rewards or harsh penalties. The former may include large-scale economic assistance, a U.S. guarantee for North Korea's security or upgrading the existing truce agreement to a peace treaty. Pyongyang must be especially keen about guaranteeing its security. Yet, would these measures lead to Pyongyang's denuclearization? Or will China endorse wholesale sanctions against North Korea?

Whether involving rewards or penalties, the international community must find a coherent policy. In this regard, relations between the United States and South Korea have oftentimes been shaky, owing to their domestic politics.

It is never easy to adopt such drastic measures. More realistically, we should envisage the tentative freezing of the nuclear and missile development program or its oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency or another UN agency, with the ultimate objective of total denuclearization. The Pyongyang regime should be made well aware of severe penalties once they cross the line. On the other hand, a certain number of rewards is indispensable for such measures to work.

Therefore, the Six-Party Talks involving all the main parties is still an important venue for engagement with North Korean officials, though we should not overestimate its merits. To achieve results, it would be wise for China to coordinate its policies with Japan, the United States and South Korea.

While Pyongyang is apt to resort to occasional brinkmanship diplomacy, its history shows otherwise. Thus, the international community, or individual nations, had better keep their options open regarding Pyongyang.

With constant progress in the North Korean nuclear and missile development program, the overall situation will become tougher. We, therefore, must at least apply pressure or engage in candid dialogue (sticks and carrots). North Korea's case could very well be a challenge in safeguarding ourselves from regimes, especially Iran, that are developing nuclear capabilities.

As for the abduction agenda, for which the support from the international community is highly appreciated, it is essentially a bilateral issue between Japan and North Korea. This single issue is especially difficult due to the sharp differences between the two sides and because it involves strong emotions among ordinary Japanese. What options are feasible? One is to further tighten sanctions; however, sanctions have not produced the anticipated effects. Besides, Japan is losing the means of imposing further sanctions. Eventually, high-level talks with North Korean leaders may prove to be the last resort in attempts to reach a political settlement.

Separated by a narrow water channel and entwined in their histories, North Korea is an important neighbor to Japan, and the two nations are destined to be linked in one way or another. I therefore hope that North Korea becomes a constructive member of the international community and normalizes relations with Japan as soon as possible. 

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