North Korea in Black and White…

18 04 2008

Two Sisters

Chinese photographer Dong Lin has visited North Korea three times since 2002, each time finding access more difficult and restrictive.

He claims that North Koreans did not allow him to take pictures of people, particularly military people. That’s true but not only for North Korea. South Koreans too, especially those who live in provinces do not like to be photographed. Try to take a picture of South Korean soldier or a military installation near the DMZ and you will risk to lose your camera.

Many Koreans are shy and conservative by nature. Korea (both in the North and South) is still dominated by the lingering effect of the rampant civil conflict. When you visit Korea, a great deal of sensitivity is needed. When you photograph it, try to see why so many things are presented in black and white…

See colorful North Korea here.

LP





“Sunshine Policy”: Las dos Coreas ponen en un congelador su política de acercamiento

8 04 2008

Anti-Kim Demonstration

Pyongyang amenazó con dejar en cenizas a su vecino, en respuesta a la línea dura del nuevo Presidente sudcoreano.

GONZALO VEGA SFRASANI

El Mercurio, SÁBADO 5 DE ABRIL DE 2008

Por su peor momento en años pasan las relaciones entre las dos Coreas. La política de acercamiento iniciada en 1997 —conocida como “Sunshine Policy”—, ha dado paso a la ira norcoreana, que ha amenazado a su vecino con “convertirlo en cenizas”.

¿Qué pasó? En los últimos diez años, Corea del Sur vivió bajo dos gobiernos liberales que buscaron un acercamiento con Pyongyang. Kim Dae Jung (1998-2003) y Roh Moo Hyun (2003-2008) se reunieron con el líder norcoreano Kim Jong Il, y premiaron con ayuda humanitaria cualquier paso hacia un desarme nuclear de Pyongyang.

Pero el escenario cambió el 25 de febrero cuando Lee Myung Bak, apodado “el bulldozer”, asumió la presidencia sudcoreana. Lee propuso aumentar la inversión en Norcorea y ayudar a incrementar, en 10 años, el ingreso per cápita de ese país a US$ 3.000, desde los actuales US$ 500… pero sólo si el vecino del Norte abandona su programa de armas nucleares. De lo contrario, se acaba la ayuda.

Pyongyang no se ha guardado nada para expresar su desacuerdo con esta postura: realizó pruebas de misiles, expulsó a funcionarios sudcoreanos, lo amenazó con acciones militares y calificó a Lee de “traidor”.

“La política de Lee recuerda la que tenían los neoconservadores del primer gobierno de George W. Bush hacia Norcorea”, afirma Cheong Seong Chang, del Instituto Sejong de Seúl, refiriéndose a la negativa que tenía EE.UU. de conversar con Pyongyang.

Leonid Petrov, experto en Norcorea de la Universidad Nacional Australiana, afirma a “El Mercurio” que lo que busca Lee es “desestabilizar el régimen norcoreano y provocar un cambio. Esta política deja a Norcorea con una sola opción, la confrontación, porque en esta situación, ni la desnuclearización ni la democratización es aceptable para Pyongyang”.

Pero muchos expertos advierten que la política de Lee no tendrá éxito, y llaman a no olvidar que el régimen de Kim Jong Il ha sobrevivido al aislamiento internacional y a una hambruna que en los años 90 dejó unos dos millones de muertos. Afirman que Norcorea tiene algunas cartas por jugar. China no quiere una península coreana inestable que pueda generar una avalancha de refugiados hacia su territorio, menos en el año en el que el dragón asiático albergará los Juegos Olímpicos.

La furiosa reacción de Norcorea hacia la asunción de Lee esta estaría vinculada, según “The Economist”, con las elecciones parlamentarias sudcoreanas que se realizarán el 9 de abril. Pyongyang espera que los electores rechacen el Gran Partido Nacional (GNP), al que pertenece Lee.

Norcorea piensa que si con sus amenazas logra expandir el temor en la población sudcoreana, esto podría presionar a Lee para que suavice su posición y evite elevar la tensión y dañar el clima de inversión económica en Corea del Sur, ya que Lee fue elegido bajo la promesa de revitalizar la economía.

Pero Lee también tiene que cumplir su promesa de ponerse duro con su vecino. Lee tiene agendada una reunión con Bush el 18 de abril, en la que tratarán estrategias para lidiar con Pyongyang. “Norcorea está enviando una advertencia a EE.UU. y Corea del Sur con miras a esa reunión. Les intenta decir que la situación de la península coreana no se está desarrollando a su favor”, afirma Choi Jin Wook, del Instituto de Corea para la Unificación Nacional.

El diálogo a seis bandas sobre el programa nuclear de Norcorea quedó bloqueado después de que Pyongyang no declarara todos sus programas nucleares antes del fin de 2007, como se había comprometido. ¿Llegó a su fin la “Sunshine Policy”? Según Petrov, “permanecerá congelada por los próximos cinco años, hasta las nuevas elecciones presidenciales en Corea del Sur”, y advierte que se vivirán “algunos períodos de abierta confrontación en la relación intercoreana”.





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

2 04 2008

lmb_image004.jpg

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
Journalist
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”
http://www.nautilus.org/fora/security/08025Petrov.html 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: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8de42f08-f942-11dc-bcf3-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1 “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…

LP





Lee Myung-bak’s “neo-engagement policy” toward NK

1 04 2008

LMB_force

After reading my article “President Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea Policy”, Professor Tae-Hwan Kwak wrote to the Nautilus Institute:

Mr. Petrov’s analysis of Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea policy is very informative and penetrating. I do agree on many of his major arguments.

In my view, Lee’s “pragmatic” North Korea policy based on some principles of South Korea’s previous governments’ engagement policy toward North Korea (i.e., the Sunshine Policy by President Kim and Peace and Co-prosperity by President Roh) does not totally reject the previous governments’ engagement policy toward the DPRK, but Lee’s major goals are the same, but he is using different policy instruments to achieve his goals.

It appears that a hard-line policy toward North Korea will not work. “Conditional economic incentives” in the “3000 Vision” initiative may not induce the DPRK to speed up the North Korea’s denuclearization process, but North Korea should not perceive them as Lee’s hard-line policy. In my view, Lee’ s new North Korea policy may be called as “neo-engagement policy” toward North Korea. It favors denuclearization and does not support a hard-line policy or “disengagement”. Therefore, the DPRK should correctly read Lee’s new policy toward it, and its cooperative behavior will insure Chairman Kim Jong Il’s best interests.

Dr. Tae-Hwan Kwak

Former President, Korea Institute for National Unification and
Professor Emeritus, Eastern Kentucky University

– Professor Kwak’s opinion is very interesting and insightful. Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea policy might look novel and may be dubbed the “neo-engagement”. However we should not forget that everything “new” is just a well forgotten “old”. Lee is risking to simply repeat the containment policy of former ROK President Kim Yong-sam. By emphasising the importance of ROK-US alliance and putting inter-Korean relations on a conditional footing (as it was in the mid-1990s), Seoul’s hard-won influence over Pyongyang soon will be forfeit to Washington. I don’t want to say that it will be a catastrophe (particularly if the new administration in Washington decides to cooperate with the DPRK) but it will certainly diminish Seoul’s influence upon future developments.

LP

Here is a comment from Prof. Kim Myong Chol from the Centre for Korean American Peace in Japan:

Dear Mr. Leonid Petrov,

I have found your article in the March 9-13 Korea Times the best article proposing the most working solution to the nuclear crisis between the DPRK and the US. I express total endorsement to your article. I have found your article so good that I have referred it to Ambassador Pak Kil Yon in New York.

In my Feb 22 talk at Clumbia University Weatherhead East Asian Institute, I stated: “The iron rule of the nuclear agreement is action for action. The DPRK has disabled 90% of the nuclear facility and provided a list of the nuclear program, but the DPRK has received mere one fifth of the promised oil supply and has see no sign of its removal from the US terror list. We see no good reason to move farther. The US is in material breach of the nuclear agreement. We cannot trust the US and we see no good reason to reduce or renounce the nuclear weapons. We will continue building up the nuclear deterrence.”
One State Department official attended my talk. On March 6, Hill gave a talk at the same institute.

Best Regards,
Kim Myong Chol
Centre for Korean American Peace





NKorea threatens to cut all dialogue with SKorea

30 03 2008

leemyungbak.jpgimage001.jpg

SEOUL (AFP)North Korea’s military on Saturday threatened to cut all dialogue with South Korea, calling for an apology over remarks by the South’s top military general and signalling a further slide in relations. On Wednesday, South Korea’s new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Kim Tae-Young, told parliament the South would strike the North’s nuclear sites should the communist country attack it with nuclear weapons. The North’s retort late Saturday followed its test-firing of several short range missiles on Friday, an action backed by a warning that it could slow down work to disable atomic plants.

– Even before Mr. Lee moved to the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, many people in Asia and beyond associated his ascendance to power with the potential deterioration of inter-Korean relations. If not a complete freeze, a serious cooling was expected the fragile North-South Korean cooperation. Some political groups found his conservative stance and rhetoric while others welcomed the fresh approach.

The war of words on what policy toward North Korea is more effective has been going on between the two camps the supporters of unconditional engagement and the pragmatic conservatives. It is likely that debate will continue because a solution for the issues regarding the DPRK (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name) is still nowhere in sight…

LP

Read the full text of my article on this issue at Nautilus Institute’s website here (in English)

«Доктрина Ли Мён Бака» и будущее межкорейских отношений (in Russian)

Не обойдётся без перемен и в вопросах внешней политики. Консервативные круги, интересы которых выражает партия «Ханнара», никогда не испытывали симпатий к пхеньянскому коммутистическому режиму. Именно по этому, уже во время своей предвыборной кампании Ли Мён Бак заявил, что в случае его избрания президентом отношения с северным соседом подвергнутся серьёзной ревизии. Он также высказывался за сближение с США (традиционным и главным стратегическим партнёром Южной Кореи) в координации дейстивий по отношению к КНДР. Намерения новой президентской администрации пересмотреть все соглашения достигнутые между Севером и Югом за последние несколько лет порядком насторожили либерально настроенную общественность.

ЛП





N.Korea Expells S.Korean officials from Kaesong Industrial Zone

27 03 2008

 Kaesong bus

Yahoo! Asia News has just reported: SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea on Thursday expelled all 11 South Korean officials from a joint industrial estate just north of the border in retaliation for Seoul’s new tougher line towards the communist state.

The move was in protest at comments by a South Korean minister linking expansion of the Kaesong estate to the North’s denuclearisation, Seoul’s unification ministry said. Last week, Unification Minister Kim Ha-Joong said Kaesong would not be expanded unless progress was made in scrapping the North’s nuclear programme. On Wednesday Kim added that improvements in bilateral relations “will be decided according to progress in the North Korean nuclear issue.”

-Ouch! I told them so… See What North Korea Policy Will Lee Pursue?

LP





Can Surging Grain Prices Spark Unrest in N.Korea?

18 03 2008
NK_agriculture
The Hyundai Economic Research Institute, via Chosun Ilbo, reported that

surging international grain prices may worsen North Korea’s food shortage and lead to other serious problems in the country. In a report released on Sunday, the Hyundai Economic Research Institute said, “Soaring international grain prices will further worsen North Korea’s food shortage and encourage more North Koreans to flee the country. This will very likely lay a big stumbling block to North Korea’s opening and create instability for Northeast Asia as well.”
If it is protracted, the upward rise of grain prices caused by short supply will have serious effects on global food security. This, in turn, may cause wide-spread starvation, produce more refugees, and cause regional armed clashes, the research institute said.
In order to attain food security, the research institute urged the South Korean government to enhance its food self-sufficiency and lay a stable foundation for food supply by strengthening cooperation with neighboring countries in cultivating food crops on undeveloped land. The institute also called on the government to seek strategic cooperation with North Korea in the agricultural sector.

This report does not seem to be exactly right.

1) North Korean agricultural sector is NOT linked to international grain markets;
2) Humanitarian aid from overseas does NOT necessarily need to be given in the form of top-quality grain;
3) North Korea is NOT going to “open up” even if the grain prices are low or humanitarian assistance is bountiful.

On the contrary, the soaring grain prices may help North Korean become a net exporter of grain, raising the badly needed foreign exchange. If needed, a single directive from Pyongyang can make the whole country switch from rice and

LP





비핵화인가 협상중단인가?

14 03 2008

LMB_force1레오니드 페트로프 박사
(Leonid Petrov PhD)

새롭게 취임한 한국의 이명박 대통령은 남북관계에 대해 “이념의 잣대가 아니라 실용의 잣대’로 풀어나가겠다고 밝혔다. ‘실용적인 남북관계’는 그가 대통령 후보로 선거활동을 펼칠 때부터 고수해온 대북정책이다. 많은 이들은 이 대통령이 청와대에 입성하기도 전부터 “이제 남북관계는 잠재적으로 악화될 것이다” 또는 “남북 관계가 완전 동결되진 않더라도 일정수위로 차가워 질 것”이라는 쪽에 힘을 실은 견해들을 밝혀왔다. 몇몇 정치 그룹들은 이 대통령의 보수적인 자세와 방해가 되는 수사법에 주목해왔으며 몇몇 그룹들은 남북문제에 대한 참신한 접근법을 반겨왔다. 남북문제와 관련한 여러 말 싸움은 무조건적인 협상 및 지원을 지지하는 쪽과 실용적인 보수주의를 외치는 쪽으로 좁혀진다. 양쪽의 논쟁은 쉽게 종결될 것 같지는 않다. 북한 관련 문제에 대해서는 아직도 확실한 해법이 없기 때문이다…

The full text is available at:

http://www.hojutopnews.com/asapro/board/show.htm?bn=headline&fmlid=544&pkid=551





Presidential elections and the future of Russian-Korean relations

13 03 2008

Putin_KimJongIlBy Leonid Petrov

At the end of this month the inauguration of the recently elected President of the Republic of Korea will take place in Seoul. Russia is poised for its own presidential elections in early March. In North Korea (formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK), it has been reported, the grooming of a new leader is already under way. Nevertheless, the dynamics of relations between Russia and the two Koreas will depend not so much on personalities but on the joint efforts of the sides…

See the full text at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/JC05Ag01.html





President Lee Myung-bak’s North Korea Policy: Denuclearization or Disengagement?

12 03 2008

President LeeMyungbakBy Leonid Petrov

Just days after his inauguration as the President of Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak faces an important decision. The so-called “pragmatic” approach to North Korea, which was formulated and promulgated during his election campaign, is now going to be implemented. What will be the short- and long-term consequences of President Lee’s North Korea policy?..

See the full text at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/JC07Dg01.html