The Korea Herald


Concrete action from Pyongyang needed to avoid failure of summit

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : March 19, 2018 - 15:55

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Seoul must obtain concrete action from Pyongyang to avoid failure of the upcoming inter-Korean summit and to play a noteworthy part in resolving tensions on the Korean Peninsula, experts say.

From left: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) From left: South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)

“The United States has doubts on North Korea’s abrupt change in attitude towards denuclearization, so in order for the inter-Korean summit to be widely considered a success, South Korea must draw a clear response from North Korea regarding its position on denuclearization to help build a more solid ground for US-North Korea talks,” Hong Min, director of the North Korean studies division of the Korea Institute for National Unification, told The Korea Herald.

Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump agreed to meet with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un in May after the young North Korean leader offered to put Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons -- which North Korea claims are capable of striking US territory -- on the negotiation table.

The inter-Korean summit is set to be held in April, preceding a Trump-Kim summit in May.

Although South Korea continues to reiterate the North Korean leader‘s stated commitment to denuclearization, US officials and experts are skeptical about North Korea’s recent breakthrough move, saying the North sees the weapons as its sole guarantee of survival.

“Even if South Korea draws a clear response from the North, it must also roll out follow-up measures after the inter-Korean summit that can aid the US and North Korea ties and communication in the run-up to and after the US-North Korea summit,” said Hong.

Easing military tensions on the peninsula is another key task the inter-Korean summit must tackle, analysts note.

“The ongoing military tensions near the inter-Korean border are expected to be addressed at the Moon-Kim summit, along with framework to prevent accidental military clashes near the demilitarization zone,” said Cho Han-bum, a senior researcher of the KINU, while highlighting the role of both summits in easing tensions on the peninsula.

Alexander Vershbow, who served as the US ambassador to Seoul during the George W. Bush administration, warned that if the US-North Korea summit “fails,” then it could possibly trigger even higher military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, in a recent interview with Voice of America.

In July 2017, President Moon Jae-in, outlining his administration’s peace initiative for the peninsula, said that if the two Koreas halt “all acts of hostility that escalate military tensions at the border,” it would provide a “meaningful opportunity” to ease tensions between the two Koreas.

By Jung Min-kyung (