Park’s North Korea policy focused on inducing changes
Published : 2013-01-20 20:27
Updated : 2013-01-20 20:27
The incoming government of President-elect Park Geun-hye is expected to focus its North Korea policy on getting the communist North to embrace changes, multiple sources said Sunday.
Park’s transition team had received policy briefings from the foreign and unification ministries and collected opinions from private experts over the past weeks before finalizing a broad picture of its North Korea policy, said the sources.
They explained that the tentative direction of North Korea policy has been based mostly on the viewpoint and philosophy of the president-elect, who clearly said last week that the primary policy goal toward North Korea is to lead the North to make changes and become a responsible member of the global community.
Specifically, Park is expected to fine-tune her government’s foreign affairs, unification and defense policies in a way that induces Pyongyang to scrap an anticipated nuclear test and additional provocations and choose the path to reform and opening, they noted.
Accordingly, Park’s campaign pledge for a “Korean Peninsula trust process,” which calls for large-scale international economic cooperation projects in the North after its denuclearization and restoration of inter-Korean relations, will also likely be focused on inducing changes in the North.
Inter-Korean relations have effectively been cut off during the Lee Myung-bak administration due to a string of provocations committed by North Korea and the hard-line response by Seoul.
In 2010, North Korea sank a South Korean naval vessel resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors and shelled an island in the Yellow Sea that left four dead, while in 2008 a woman tourist was killed at the Mount Kumgang resort. The North also detonated its second nuclear device in May 2009 and launched a long-range rocket late last year despite warnings issued by the international community.
Seoul halted most exchanges and cooperation projects between the two sides in May 2010.
The sources said that Park’s foreign policy will also be focused on changing Pyongyang’s attitude through closer coordination with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia. In this regard, Park said recently that China has a “very big role” to play and decided to send her first envoy to Beijing this week.
They also said that Park’s defense policy will be designed to deter the North’s provocations and nuclear development based on solid defense footing, forecasting that a breakthrough in cross-border relations is unlikely in the near future unless the North decides to undertake drastic changes in its provocative attitude.
“Park was elected on the basis of solid support from conservative voters. It will be difficult for her government to unconditionally attempt to drastically improve relations with North Korea,” said a diplomatic source in Seoul.
“Improvement of inter-Korean relations will largely depend on the North’s attitude. Pyongyang is unlikely to make a sudden policy and attitude change, like an abandonment of nuclear weapons. In this sense, an immediate improvement in relations between the two Koreas may be unlikely,” he said.