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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative: Study on the Issue of the Korean Peninsula
Park Myeong-Seo, President, Kyonggi Institute for Peace Problem of Northeast Asia, Doctor of Political Science
Seoul, Korea
October 15, 2006

Paper presented at the Fifth Assembly of the Mongolian Peoples? Federation for World Peace


It is my great honor to participate in this conference with the descendants of Mongolians that is organized to search for identity of Mongolians, who will carry out the important task of rebuilding the collapsed palace of this era for the peace of the Korean peninsula and prosperity of the North East Asia.

I was deeply impressed with Samuel P. Huntington?s (Chair-professor of Harvard University) book, Who Are We? that was published in July 28th, 2004. The book explained the founding identity of the United States and the root of identity.

Then, at this point I?d like to ask you to think over the following questions, ?Who are we?? and ?Where are we?? I believe we need to ascertain the status of the Korean peninsula in this globalized world.

Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia of a Century Ago

In Northeast Asia
1840~42 The Opium War
1842 The Treaty of Nanjing
The opening of five Chinese ports. This was the start of the Eastern penetration by Western powers.
1846 Commercial Treaty between Japan and the United Kingdom
1847 Commercial Treaty between Japan and France
1854 Friendship Treaty between Japan and the United States
1868 Meiji Restoration (Overthrow of 700 years of the shogunate and re-establishment of the Emperor)
1876 Gwanghwa-Do Treaty (Japan started to be internationalized)

In Korea
1866 (the eighth of King Kojong in Chosun Dynasty)
The persecution of Catholics by Daewon-gun; the General Sherman Incident, which led to Byung-In-Yang-Yo (French squadron's invasion of Korea in reaction to the persecution of Catholics by Daewon-gun)
1894 The Sino-Japanese War
The arbitration proposal for a truce between the north and south of Han River by Foreign Minister John W. Kimberley of the United Kingdom
1896 Ul-Mi-Sa-Byun (Japanese murder of Korean Empress)
1905 Russo-Japanese War
1907 Campaign for repayment of national debt
1910 Japan's annexation of Korea (This is the history of Japanese invasion of
the Korean Peninsula)

Bipolarization Era

1945 The End of World War II/Ideological confrontation between the U.S and Soviet Union camps/Military and political bipolarization.
1950 The Korean War
1953 Cease-Fire Regime
1950 Stalin Era
1960 John F. Kennedy-Khrushchev Era
1970 Nixon-Brezhnev Era /Nixon's visit to Beijing and Moscow
1980 Gorbachev/Liberalization wave in East Europe
Dec. 1989 Malta Island Peace Declaration

Worldwide Historical Trends in This Era


A. Regionalism (Formation of economic blocks)
B. Nationalism (Nationalistic confrontation, racial discrimination, religious conflict)
C. Regionalism (Economic Blocs: EU, NAFTA, APEC)

The Northeast Asia Peace Movement, based on the Four Powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula

A. The United States
* Democracy
* Military security establishment (uni/multipolar system)
* Encouraging countries to join the world order; market economy (WTO, etc.)
* One global community
* Expansion of American ideology and values
* Preparation for Advance Democracy Act

B. China
* Pragmatic line
* Socialist revolution accomplished after the construction of a powerful nation
* Relationship with the U.S as a competitor and strategic partner
* Policy for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula
* One of the four nuclear powers
* Formation of Chinese economic zone
* Desire for hegemony in Northeast Asia

C. Japan
* War criminal nation in 1945
* Maintaining an alliance with the U.S
* An economic power
* Revision of the Peace Constitution; pursuit of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
* Conflict with China

D. Russia
* Mutual check and cooperation with the U.S
* Weakened national power (one-twentieth of Japanese GDP)
* China, Russia and North Korea alliance to resist America.
(Opposition to the Missile Defense system/ Revival of the alliance.)
* Opportunity to intervene the Inter-Korean relations/ mainly organizing the power supply and railway projects.

Current Issues Affecting Peace on the Korean Peninsula

A. North Korea's Nuclear Issue and the Six-party Talks
At the summit talk between Korea and the United States held at the Oval office of White House on September 14, 2006, the leaders of the two nations agreed on a joint comprehensive approach to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue. Although follow-up measures have not been taken, the US announced that it would continue financial sanctions on North Korea as long as North Korea's counterfeiting is not resolved. North Korea declared that it would not return to the Six-party Talks as long as the financial sanctions continue. Let's look at the current situation in detail.

The US stand
* It will impose sanctions on North Korea to ban money transfer, trade, investment and tour.
* It plans to implement North Korea Nonproliferation Act of 2006.
* It will reinforce marine search for North Korean ships through the Proliferation Security Initiative.
* It is putting pressure on North Korea by imposing financial sanctions on all North Korean accounts in financial institutions worldwide.

The North Korean stand
* It would not return to Six-party Talks if various sanctions by the US continue. (Kim Yung-nam, North Korea's Parliament head, mentioned at the summit meeting for Non-Aligned Movement at Havana in Cuba on September 17, 2006)
* The US reinforces financial sanctions only on North Korea while it turns a blind eye to other countries that counterfeit dollar notes. (Korea Central News Agency on September 16th)
* The North Korean Foreign Ministry announced on October 3rdin 2006 through all media such as Central Broadcasting Station, Radio Pyongyang and Korea Central News Agency that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would conduct nuclear tests with perfect safety. It declared on the next day that it would no longer seat idle under the circumstance that the U.S pressure against it is becoming worse beyond the limits. It is now emphasizing on good governance and the revolutionary military spirit through Nodongilbo and Central Broadcasting Station, although it is under worse situation than ever: hundreds of thousands of people are dying of hunger, people become less supportive of the Kim Jungil regime, and North Korea is the second largest food beneficiary from international community.

B. Summit between Korea and the US (September 14, 2006)
* Formula for approaching the North Korea nuclear issue and the Six-party Talks
- Confirmation of the principle to resolve the issues in a peaceful and diplomatic manner
- Evaluation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1695
- Promotion of joint comprehensive approach formula to resume the Six-party Talks
* Korea-US Alliance
- Satisfaction with comprehensive and reciprocal alliance
- Reconfirmation of smooth re-deployment of US forces in Korea
* Takeover of wartime military control from the US
- Agreement on the transfer of wartime military control in a broad frame
- Confirmation of consistent presence of the US forces in Korea and increase US troops in case of contingency
- The time of the transfer of wartime military control will be confirmed in October by SCM
* Korea and the US FTA
- Confirmation of the determination of the two nations' leaders to conclude FTA

C. Wartime Military Control Issue
Korea wants to take over the wartime military control by recognizing it as the essential part of self-reliant defense, while Japan and the US are in the process of uniting beyond the collaboration level.

Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan, said at the summit meeting between Japan and the US in May in 2003 that MD system would contribute to strengthening the alliance between Japan and the US as well as Japan's defense capability. He decided to introduce the MD system to Japan seven months later.

In addition, Japan decided to jointly develop SM-3 missile with the US and planned missile intercept test. Japan and the US signed an agreement allowing Japan to produce PAC-3 missiles. Furthermore, in May 2006, the US and Japan agreed on the final report on re-deployment of the US troops stationed in Japan, and the report indicates strengthened military unity between the two nations.

According to the report, the two nations' Army and Air Force command will be consolidated in Camp Zama and Camp Yokota, which means joint command of the two nations.

If Japan, which has the ambition of military power along with the US, has the same strategy as the US, which aims to use Japan as a partner in Northeast Asia, the Japanese-US alliance may be strengthened.

The US and Korea could not narrow differences in opinion on the timetable of transfer of war time military control in the 10th Security Policy Initiative (SPI) held in Washington on September 27~28. Further negotiations on the timetable for transfer of war time control are expected in the 39th Security Consultation Meeting (SCM) which will be held in Washington on October 20.

D. The Aftermath of North Korea's Nuclear Test
The North Korean Foreign Ministry declared that North Korea had conducted its underground nuclear test safely and successfully at 41.294 N, 129.134 E in the mountainous region in North Hamkyung province. It proved that it entered into the stage of practical use of its nuclear capability even though the explosion magnitude was relatively weak. As a result, North Korea will immediately be isolated from the international community. However, the nuclear test means that in the long term North Korea will be recognized as one of nuclear-weapon states like India and Pakistan that have not yet joined the "nuclear club."

As the New York Times put it, North Korea becomes the eighth country in history that conducted nuclear tests, and it is arguably the most unstable and most dangerous one.

There is a debate about whether the US will increase a diplomatic effort toward North Korea, as the Washington Post suggested, or whether it will take tough measures that could cause the instability of the Kim Jung-Il regime.

North Korea is likely to be at a more advantage to the US in a bargaining table, as it intended, after conducting the nuclear test. However, there is a possibility that it would not be recognized as a nuclear-weapon state even though it carried out the nuclear test successfully, according to the statement made by Christopher Hill, the assistant secretary of the US. Department of State, on October 5th. What impact the nuclear test will have on the relations with neighboring countries also remains to be seen.

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld presented on October 3rd three possible scenarios for the US to address the North Korea's nuclear issue:

* The US urges the UN to impose full-scale sanctions on North Korea. It blocks all financial transactions with North Korea and demands South Korea and China to stop their assistance to North Korea in order to make North Korea completely isolated.

* The US increases maritime patrol and search to find whether the North Korean ships deal with WMD-related materials according to Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

* The US attacks the nuclear site in North Korea accurately and destroys the facilities for developing weapons of mass destruction.

E. North Korea's intentions in conducting the nuclear test and its next moves
* North Korea may carry out its nuclear test again. It will heighten the tension and threatening level with nuclear tests and missile launches while it pushes ahead with a direct negotiation with the US. India has conducted the first nuclear test on May 11th in 1998 and the second test two days later. Pakistan also conducted two nuclear tests on May 28 and 30, 1998. The repeated nuclear tests confirmed the accuracy and capability of nuclear technology. India and Pakistan thought they could be recognized as nuclear power if their nuclear tests succeeded more than twice.

* North Korea will propose a direct negotiation with the US as it has nuclear weapons. North Korea suggested in six-party talks? keynote speech in July 2005 that the US should recognize North Korea as a nuclear power and negotiate on armament reduction.

* North Korea has completed deployment of No-dong missile whose range is sufficient to put parts of Japan within range. It is also likely to show missile force in order to gain attention from the world. While North Korea raises tension in the world, it can wage campaign to calm opposition from the global community.

* Kim Jung-Il used his last card of nuclear test because he concluded that no more economic loss would be incurred even if economic sanctions are imposed on North Korea. North Korea strategically estimated that the US might not take military action in Northeast Asia due to the obstacles of Middle East such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

F. Changes in the security environment in Northeast Asia
* Korea's short-term strategy is to use the US nuclear umbrella and nuclear deterrence of the international community. Its long-term strategy is to come up with new strategy for North Korea's nuclear weapon.

* The Missile Defense System of the US and Japan and Korea's participation in PSI will be inevitably expanded. Therefore, negotiation on transfer of war time control in SCM is highly likely to be delayed.

* There is concern about nuclear armament of Japan. Last September, conservative politicians such as former Japanese prime minister Yashiro Nakasone and former Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiranuma Takeo insisted that Japan should study the nuclear issue and consider possessing nuclear weapon as an option. In May 2002, former Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe emphasized that Japanese nuclear armament was not a violation of the constitution when he gave a lecture at Waseda University.

Worldwide nuclear non-proliferation efforts face a big obstacle. In addition, Japan insists on preemptive attack against North Korea, pointing out nuclear domino theory in Northeast Asia and North Korean missile threat.

Against this backdrop, there is possibility that Japan and China will enter into conflict over nuclear armament of Northeast Asia. In addition, China may try to make North Korea a Chinese satellite country, which will lead to confrontation between Korea and China. I am worried when and how such problems in Northeast Asia can be resolved.

How to Establish Peace
In the APEC summit held in Busan on November 17, 2005, US President George W. Bush and his Korean counterpart Roh Moo-Hyun agreed on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and declared that they would overcome the conflict stemming from the Cold War and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Considering the fact that Korea is surrounded by powerful nations and has geopolitical importance, the nation should maintain the ROK-US alliance.

Korea needs to build up its strength and carefully observe the solidarity of the Japan-US alliance.

The US seems to join hands with China for peace in 21st century instead of fueling conflict and confrontation. Therefore, Korea should change its mind-set in order to overcome chronic conflict with Japan and China and create new order of coexistence.

The US and Korea should maintain a strong military alliance and open a new era of peace and prosperity based on democracy and market economy. In this regard, I hope the heads of the two nations can build trust and have in-depth discussion on improvement of ROK-US alliance in SPI and SCM in late 2006 and early 2007.

I believe that in order to build peace on the Korean peninsula, especially in the aftermath of the nuclear test, Korea, the US and Japan should build a coalition to come up with reasonable solution and the Six-party Talks should be also resumed. Korea is considered to be a ?middle power,? not a leading power in Northeast Asia, so the best way to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula is to build up strength quietly gaining trust from powerful nations including the US, Japan, China and Russia.

Therefore, North Korea should be supported to divert its interest from military buildup to economic development. To this end, we need to learn a lesson from Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who has planted seed of hope for North Korean people suffering starvation and bad governance by establishing Peace Car Manufacturing Plant and Botonggang Hotel.

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