Some people say that neither sticks nor carrots will work on North Korea

2 04 2008


Dear professor Leonid Petrov:

My name is Gonzalo Vega and I am a journalist in “El Mercurio” newspaper, one of the most important in South America. I am sending you this email because I am writing an article about the tensions between South and North Korea, and it would be very important if you could answer some questions about it. It won’t take you more than 5 or ten minutes and once the article be published, I could send you a copy of it to your email.

Dear professor, these are the questions that I want to ask you:
— The President Lee Myung Back has changed the south korean policy towards Pyongyang. He support a hard-line policy. What is he really looking for with this policy?
— Some people said that neither sticks or carrots work with North Korea. Do you share that opinion? Why?
— Do you think that this is the end of the Sunshine policy?

Dear professor, I hope you could participate in this article.
My best regards,

Gonzalo Vega Sfrasani
International informations
El Mercurio newspaper
Chile – South America

Dear Gonzalo,

I hope you have read my article “President Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea Policy” It has many answers to your questions but I’ll give you a little more information:

> The President Lee Myung Bak has changed the South Korean policy towards Pyongyang. He supports a hard-line policy. What is he really looking for with this policy?

– Lee Myung-bak represents the conservative Grand National Party (Hannaradan) which has never been friendly to the communist regime in North Korea. The hard-line policy towards the DPRK is aiming at destabilizing this regime and ultimately bringing about its change. Lee Myung-bak and the GNP perfectly know that the Pyongyang regime cannot survive denuclearization and democratization together, that it why they promise aid and cooperation only after North Korea gives up its nuclear ambitions and improves its human right record. In other words, aid and cooperation will never be extended unless some major change happened in North Korea.

> Some people said that neither sticks nor carrots work with North Korea. Do you share that opinion? Why?

I don’t share this opinion at all. Only when both sticks and carrots are used actively and alternately, will North Korea be cooperative and demonstrate constructive approach. See Dr. Lankov’s article in Financial Times: “Both strategies should be used persistently. One should not dismiss the other.”

There should always be a choice between the two possible options (one with positive and the other with negative consequences) but both options should be more or less feasible and acceptable. The current Lee Myung-bak’s policy leaves North Korea only with one option – confrontation – because at the current stage neither denuclearization nor democratization is acceptable for Pyongyang.

> Do you think that this is the end of the Sunshine policy?

– For the next five years until the next presidential elections in South Korea the Sunshine Policy will be mothballed and shelved there. Lee Myung-bak’s conservative government will not resume it out of principle (it would be against their pre-election promises). We are likely to experience a deep freeze with some periods of open confrontation between the two Koreas, similar to what it was in the mid-1990s when President Kim Yong-sam was pursuing the policy of containment against orth Korea but strongly pro-American policy towards the United States.

Like it was then, the DPRK will probably improve its relations with the US. And who knows, maybe the new Democrat administration in Washington will start radiating Sunshine toward North Korea…




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