What Does North Korea Want From the US and South Korea?

North Korea called on the US and its neighbor South Korea to provide a new solution to solve the standoff on the Korean Peninsula, warning that such a hostile policy towards Pyongyang would lead to severe consequences.


Speaking at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, Pyongyang’s senior military official Kim Hyong Ryong claimed that North Korea had worked to build a stable cooperation, but the situation had turned into a vicious circle that deteriorated the tensions because of the acts from the North Korean and US administrations.


“Though it has been more than one year since the DPRK-US joint statement was adopted, there is no progress in improving bilateral relations between the two countries, completely because of the US’ anachronistic, hostile policies against the DPRK,” Kim told the forum as Reuters quoted, referring to his country by the initials of its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


Kim accused Seoul of having a double-dealing attitude for continuing a joint military drill with the US and buying military equipment. Last August, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles, considered an act of protest against the military exercise.


Early October, North Korean and American negotiators failed to end the nuclear stalemate during a working-level meeting in Sweden. Both blamed each other for not being flexible and able to present a creative solution.


The first two meetings between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the US President Donald Trump, in Singapore last year and in Hanoi last February, failed to produce concrete solutions to the denuclearization issue.


The US and North Korea have different interpretations of the definition of denuclearization. The former wants a complete ban on North Korea’s nuclear weapons while the latter wants a guarantee that the sanctions are removed first.


Trump and Jong-un met again at the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas last June after the G-20 meeting in Osaka. However, both did not discuss the issue of denuclearization and the removal of the economic embargo.


Should Russia and China be involved in the denuclearization talks?

President Trump appreciated Russia’s and China’s willingness to seek a peaceful solution to the Korean Peninsula following Jong-un’s visit to Vladivostok last April, two months after the collapse of the Hanoi talks.


“I appreciate that Russia and China are helping us,” Trump said, adding that China also is unhappy to see North Korea has nuclear weapons.


Both Russia and China support North Korea’s sanction removal. However, both Moscow and Beijing may compete in exerting their influence in the Korean Peninsula, given that they aim to be an energy supplier in the Peninsula, said Victor Cha, the former official at the White House.


“If this is part of a final deal, Trump could be okay with it if it pokes China in the eye. The Chinese don’t want the Russians on the Peninsula, so if they’re going to be the primary energy supplier, they won’t like it,“ Cha told MSN.


Washington’s mixed reactions on Jong-Un’s ballistic missile test has also raised confusion among Washington’s allies. When Jong-un fired a ballistic missile after his visit to Russia, Trump and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seemed to downplay the impact of the test on the region.


South Koreans are not happy with Pompeo’s statement saying that the test did not violate the moratorium on the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).


“The South Koreans aren’t on board with Pompeo’s ‘test anything you want as long as it can’t reach me’ standard.” tweeted Jeffrey Lewis, another North Korean analyst and Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute.


Back in the past, Washington has not dealt with diplomacy effectively when it comes to North Korea. Pyongyang is always motivated to talk, but the progress gets stuck during diplomacy, and the communist’ state becomes aggressive when the talks fail. Jong-Un’s missile tests after the Hanoi talks show that he still wants to talk.


Therefore, it is time for Washington to involve his allies (Japan and South Korea) and North Korea’s close friends (China and Russia) to listen to them. Pyongyang’s security must be prioritized first before a complete denuclearization (as Beijing advises).


Pyongyang must also be convinced that nuclear war benefits nobody. Yet, the US, Russia, and China (the world’s nuclear powerhouses) must also restrain themselves from taking provocative measures.