Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Don Kirk has published yet another essay in Asia Times, which is an excellent summary of the week’s to-and-fro of US-South Korea diplomacy. Although, Mr. Kirk is playing it safe when he writes that:
“It’s not inconceivable that Wen, while rewarding North Korea with badly needed commercial and economic deals, will persuade Dear Leader Kim Jong-il, who visited China in March, of the need to return to the six-party talks that China had been hosting.”
It is more than safe to say that during his visit to the DPRK later this month, Premier Wen’s nuclear entreaties will dominate any conversation he has with General-Secretary Kim. At the grand official reception (the one where the Young Pioneers offer flowers and a hearty “annyong hmnigasha”). At state guesthouse meetings. In the Benz on the ride to whatever farm or factory the two leaders visit. In the Benz on the way to a music performance or Arirang. During an intermission at the concert or a lull in the mass games. At the rate of salvaging the Six Party Talks, one would not be surprised if a designated PRC diplomat will fake a cough or sneeze whilst muttering, “Six party talks!”
The Grand Bargain
Mr. Kirk also relates South Korea President Lee Myung-bak’s proposed “grand bargain” which would involve a broad discussion of all inter-Korean issues: business deals, strategic weapons, reunions. One is reminded of the Bill Murray film What About Bob? where Murray played a mentally ill fellow who take his therapist’s “baby steps” treatment a little too zealously (“babysteps to the car, babysteps opening the door”) Babysteps, President Lee: even if these diplomatic meetings end up as a forum for (begging pardon) the North Koreans to jerk the other participants around. Perhaps one thing on which President Lee and General-Secretary Kim may agree is that these multilateral forums have accomplished little, except press conference p.r. rhetoric and spent jet fuel.
By Donald Kirk, 2 October 2009