Emerging Pyongyong-Seoul detente and US concerns!


Emerging Pyongyong-Seoul detente and US concerns!

the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has become a curse for the whole world. Evidently, North Korea has become the world's most dangerous country with its nuclear weapons programme, only increasing the risk it poses before the peace loving humanity.

Unfortunately, North Korea continues to be a major irritant for maintaining peace and security, not in the Asia-Pacific region but also in the whole world. With the continuing clandestine Chinese assistance along with Russian support — financial and technological — Pyongyong has been making rapid strides in procuring latest nuclear technologies and lethal weapons as proved by its recent successful testing of a Hydrogen bomb and nuclear-powered inter-continental ballistic missile system and other weapons of mass destruction. Recently, several truck loads have also been moving from China to North Korea.

With executing several barbarous and macabre acts for eliminating his rivals publically, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has become a curse for the whole world. Evidently, North Korea has become the world's most dangerous country with its nuclear weapons programme, only increasing the risk it poses before the peace loving humanity.

But at the same time, mounting global opinion against Kim Jong-un and his autocratic style of working, which is no less different than Islamic Terror’s (ISIS) mastermind Abu Baghdadi, appears to be working well. This apparently has pushed the dictator to mend fences with US President Trump for resolving their continual face off on the nuclear weapons issue by extending friendly gestures with its arch rival South Korea in the just concluded Winter Olympics 2018 at Pyeongchang. In fact, it has become the big story of this mega event, the opening ceremony of which saw the athletes of two Koreas walking as a joint team with their shared flag reflecting a neutral image of a "unified" Korean peninsula. Signifying symbolism, the event not only witnessed the participation of North Korea and the friendly tone struck by the two rivals but was also marked by the glamour and charisma of Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un and Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser and the daughter of US President Donald Trump.

Thus, the charm offensives of these two young ladies in South Korea's first Winter Games perhaps offer rarest of the rare possibilities. Indeed, the vastly photogenic Kim Yo-jong, made history by being the first member of North Korea’s ruling dynasty to visit South Korea since the unfortunate Korean War (1950-53). She invited the South’s President Moon Jae-in for a summit in Pyongyang at an invitation from her brother Kim Jong-un. Moon responded to the letter saying that “he is open to any form of meeting, including a summit under right conditions.” The US here, will obviously have to play a major role by shedding all its inhibitions against Pyongyang, though for now the country looks reluctant. But with Ivanka Trump’s participation in the closing ceremony of Olympics 2018, there has arisen a ray of hope for US to be positive towards this evolving rapprochement between the two Koreas. This may ultimately pave the way for any possibility of likely cooperation between the US and North Korea.

But will the apparent Olympic rapprochement last? That can be answered only by focusing on some of the recent developments involving the two Korean countries and the US. A key person in these negotiations will be the Head of National Intelligence for North Korea Kim Yong-chol who also attended the Olympics and is the alleged mastermind of two attacks that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010. He said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wanted to improve ties with Washington and had “ample intentions of holding talks” with its Korean counterpart. He made the remarks during a meeting with Moon Jae-in, who is said to be eager to engage with Kim Jong-in. President Moon, who was invited during the opening ceremonies to Pyongyang for a summit with Kim Jong-un, also said that Washington and Pyongyang should quickly meet to “fundamentally solve” the standoff on the Korean peninsula. Adding further to this spirit, North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of Pyongyang’s military parade, just a day before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The parade generally takes place a month later as witnessed in the previous years. Also significant is the fact that the decision to field a joint Korean women’s ice-hockey team at the Olympics caused a stir in the South, with some of its team members dropped to make way for less-qualified players from North Korea.

All these point towards the possibility of an emerging détente between the two Koreas - as Moon Jae-in was expected to meet his counterpart ahead of the ceremony and Kim Jong-un’s decision to allow his sister to attend the ceremony. The intention of both the nations to give up their persisting hostility also gives an opportunity to outside powers to unnecessary meddle into their mutual bi-lateral relations, with a view to serve their own vested interests and maintain their undue hegemony upon them. In fact, President Moon has long wanted to engage with the North Korea, but the first year of his presidency saw a torrid weapons-testing pace by the North leading to a standoff between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. Fortunately, both Washington and Seoul postponed their usual, jointly-run spring war drills because of these games in their bid to create a congenial atmosphere in favour of the emerging thaw between Pyongyang and Seoul and Pyongyang and Washington.

Amidst this humming euphoria is a realist version being advanced by the keen strategic observers of international relations, who cast doubts over the true intentions of the North Korean tyrant. Only a foolish utopian will believe that the 2018 Peongchang Olympic will ensure the Pyongyang’s ruler to be less troublesome and more rational and cooperative with both Seoul and Washington. Thus the two Korean nations, even having marched together under a joint flag, still seem far away from the likelihood of a peaceful relationship. As usual, the closing ceremony would take place and sniping would resume, because the games are as much about sports as political point-scoring. Despite the original aspirations of athletic ambassadors promoting peace among nations, the games cannot resolve the fundamental differences between the North and South Korea and are just as likely to inflame narrow nationalistic sentiment. Added to their persisting woes are selfish and unethical interventions by major powers who always hanker after their own national interests, only to complicate the already existing differences between the two Korean countries. Further, there are several challenges before the Pyongyong’s dictator as all countries in the Asia-pacific and Far East region, particularly Australia and Japan besides all NATO powers, mostly follow the US line of action and hence would stand against North Korea. There is also a likely possibility of terrorists getting control of North Korea’s nuclear weapons in the event of a regime change or fall of the present dictator.

In the present scenario it seems that both North and South Korea have realized the absolute futility of their continuing hostility and legacy of conflict. Hence, they appear to be coming together in order to secure peace, prosperity and security of not only their own countrymen but also of the peace-loving humanity across the world.

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*The author is Professor, Political Science, UP Rajarshi Tandon Open University, Allahabad

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.