Search for a Framework
for ROK-US Relations
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North Korean Futures and ROK-US Strategies Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations Overview
The conference began with a discussion of current issues and trends in ROK-US relations. Participants agreed the relations arelikely to remain stable in the future but that problem areas doexist. One Korean participant noted that through a series of high-level visits to Korea, Washington recently reconfirmed its securi-ty commitment, and the US and South Korea reached agreementon how to manage the issue of humanitarian assistance to NorthKorea. An American cautioned, however, that a somewhat nega-tive attitude toward Korea on trade matters exist in the US today.
Many participants shared the opinion that US policy toward South Korea is on auto-pilot and that the Clinton administrationis waiting to see who will win the ROK presidential election inDecember before taking any further steps. It was noted that, forits part, the South Korean leadership has been lacking a cleardirection in dealing with issues arising from rapid change anddemocratization. The general view seemed to be that the futureof ROK-US relations depends very much on who ends up aspresident in South Korea and which camp prevails in the US for-eign policy community.
Participants next considered the future of North Korea. Most agreed that North Korea could collapse at any time, but opinionsdiffered over how such a collapse might occur and how the USand South Korea should respond. Difficult questions were raised,such as “Who will get North Korea under control in the case ofcollapse?” and “How would South Korea respond if a NorthKorean Park Chung-Hee were to take control of the North andwish to modernize with the South’s assistance?” Participants gen-erally agreed that as South Korea and the United States analyzethe future of North Korea, the two sides may not necessarilydraw the same conclusions or prioritize their objectives in the The remainder of the meeting focused on issues likely to affect the post-unification Korean peninsula. Two topics were ofprimary concern: whether US troops will remain on the peninsulaand what China’s reaction and role will be. Participantsexpressed optimism that South Korea will want the troops toremain and that China will accept their continued presence in areduced number and south of the DMZ. A continued US pres-ence could be justified on the basis of maintaining stability in theregion by providing protection to a non-nuclear and non-milita-rized Japan and to a unified, non-nuclear Korea. Two participants suggested the establishment of new organi- zations to prepare for and manage the post-unification NortheastAsian region. Han Sung-Joo proposed forming an internationalconsortium to address the food crisis in North Korea in a system-atic and sustained way. In addition to addressing the current foodcrisis, such an organization would set precedents for providingeconomic assistance to North Korea after unification. MortonHalperin suggested the creation of a cooperative security organi-zation in Northeast Asia which would address problems ofinternational peace and security after Korean unification. Not allparticipants agreed that the region is prepared for a security orga-nization at this time, but most urged an immediate security dia-logue between and among the major powers. All agreed thatChina is the key to regional security dialogue.
Opening Remarks
After Professor Kim Kyung-Won welcomed everyone to the meeting, Morton Halperin announced that the Council on For-eign Relations hopes to begin shortly a study on the conse-quences of Korean unification. Arnold Kanter then remarked thatROK-US relations will be increasingly challenged by emergingdevelopments rather than given a breathing space by them.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations ROK-US Relations: Issues and Trends
[Leadoff Discussants: Hyun Hong-Choo and William Gleysteen] Hyun Hong-Choo explained what are, in his opinion, the most important issues between the ROK and the US today. Hebegan by saying this year is an important year for Korea due tothe election scheduled for December 18. There are currently ninecandidates vying for the presidency (seven from the ruling NewKorea Party and two opposition candidates). In a recent televi-sion debate among the candidates, the topic of ROK-US relationswas hardly mentioned. Hyun explained that foreign policy is notas important as domestic issues in this year’s campaign.
During Clinton II, Korea has hosted several high-level US visitors. Their message was simple. Each visitor reassured theROK of the US security commitment. This reassurance has madeKoreans feel more relaxed. In addition, a consensus seems tohave emerged over how to deal with North Korea, particularlywith regard to humanitarian assistance. A substantial aid packagecan only be granted after Pyongyang accepts the invitation to thefour-party talks.
Hyun further explained that many important issues between the ROK and the US still exist but are hidden behind an attitudeof complacency. Included are security, political, and trade issuesas well as issues related to North Korea. On the security issue,Hyun believes that as North Korea faces collapse, the possibilityof it lashing out exists. And as the food crisis deepens, the USand South Korea should be trying to strike a balance betweendeterrence and providing humanitarian assistance. According to Hyun, the issue of the US troop level does not seem to come to the fore. But he asked. “How long will this levellast?” As for the post-unification level, there is not much debate.
Hyun mentioned the rapid development in Sino-ROK rela- tions and said this does not necessarily have a negative impact onROK-US relations.
According to Hyun, 1994 was a time of tension in ROK-US relations, because South Korea got sidelined in the negotiations.
Today, however, since North Korea has been abiding by theGeneva Agreement, support for the agreement is growing in theSouth, but it is still fragile.
The value of the four-party talks might actually lie in their being a forum where North Korea can engage in discussion withSouth Korea.
As for South Korean politics, recent events (such as Presi- dent Kim’s son being sent to prison) might be a signal thatdemocracy and a free press have taken root in South Korea. If so,we can assume that Korea is becoming more politically matureand is therefore sharing political values with the US.
Hyun concluded by mentioning several discernible trends on the Korean peninsula today. First, real change is taking place inNorth Korea, as evidenced by the change in the way the Northdeals with the outside world (for example, North Korea apolo-gized after the submarine incident and wrote off Hwang Jang-Yop’s defection). Second, South Koreans are finally beginning tofeel that they might be winning the war with the North. Thissense of victory could be dangerous but could also allow moreflexibility in the South’s policies towards the North. Finally,Hyun mentioned the internationalization of the unificationprocess. He explained that policy-makers here realize that themajor powers in the region will be involved. As a result, China’srole is getting more attention, and the role of the US mightreceive deeper appreciation. Hyun predicted the ROK-USalliance will likely stay stable in the future.
William Gleysteen began his remarks by stating that he agreed with Hyun’s final comment, that is, that ROK-US rela-tions will likely remain stable in the future. However, Gleysteencautioned that some problem areas do exist.
Gleysteen commented on positive recent developments. The American media is covering ROK-US relations in a more bal-anced way. Korea, through all its political scandals, has shownthat it has become a civil society. There are new faces in Korean Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations politics. There are very encouraging long-term trends, such asKorea’s OECD membership. The overall image of Korea in theUS is not bad.
Gleysteen said he does not think enough attention has been given to contingency plans, for example, in case of a North Kore-an collapse. Regarding food aid to the North, both sides startedoff rather sloppily but then got it right (i.e. help North Korea asmuch as possible without encouraging it to take a hard-line pos-ture towards the outside world). Thought must be given to theissue of a negotiating style vis-a-vis the North (what should bedone; what kind of fora should there be; what issues should beadvanced). The early Clinton policy was very episodic.
Gleysteen thinks this era is over but that another era has not yetarisen. Regarding trade matters, Gleysteen cautioned that there is a mean-spiritedness in the US today that did not exist twenty yearsago. Some very powerful Americans feel that Korea has to comearound further if there is going to be more cooperation in trade.
Korea is no longer the developing country it was twenty yearsago.
As for negotiating style and positions, Gleysteen said he is quite dissatisfied retrospectively with how little concern has beenshown over how the US is going to deal with North Korea. Hespecifically mentioned the following areas of concern: North-South trade and American trade with North Korea; very difficultnuclear issues. Regarding security, he asked, “What are we pre-pared to do and how aggressive are we prepared to be?” Gleysteen pointed out that in the early ’80s, there was a longer-term time-frame. The last five or so years, however, havepushed a much shorter time-frame on us. The food aid problemand North Korean tactics are two of the factors that caused thechange in time-frame. The ROK and US must be prepared for theNorth to collapse (i.e. must consider contingencies). And the USshould ensure that South Korea is involved in any talks involvingits interests.
Concluding his remarks, Gleysteen recommended that South Korea ease up on North-South trade issues. He predicted that astime goes by, the kind of exclusive relationship between theROK and the US will change. China is coming into the picture,and Japan and Russia will play roles. He cautioned the SouthKoreans that Americans are not always rational and cool-headedand therefore the ROK government should keep this in mindwhen conducting trade and other relations. Participant Discussion
The following points were made during the discussion followingthe two presentations.
• ROK-US relations are good, at least better than they were one year ago and definitely better than in the aftermath of theAgreed Framework. However, saying they are good or better isnot the same as saying they are robust. They have not beentested lately. Have the mutual trust and confidence beenrestored, or have we both learned to live with the situation,including enduring reservations? • Pro-American sentiment is increasing dramatically among the Korean people. It increased from 40% last year to 80% today.
In contrast, the findings of a recent USIA poll reveal that 75%of Koreans oppose the continued presence of American troopsafter reunification. One possible explanation for the differencein the findings is that the USIA results might reflect the atti-tude in Korea after Secretary of Defense Cohen made com-ments here recently to the effect that the ROK should purchaseAmerican missiles. Another point made is that it is importantto disaggregate the different factors involved (for example,would Koreans be in favor of a troop removal while maintain-ing a security commitment?).
• The kind of question that should be asked these days is “What kind of presence could the Americans have on the peninsula Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations • The US and the ROK need to discuss issues in addition to the Agreed Framework, food aid, and the North’s nuclear poten-tial. Now is the time to think about how to bring North Koreaout into the international community. What would be our long-term approach to doing this, especially with regard to APECand ARF? The China issue must also be addressed. Chineseunderstanding of and support for reunification is vital. SouthKorea’s business community is developing very deep, long-term relations with China. How do we reconcile the two tracks(i.e. one with China, the other with the US)? • Regardless of what public opinion polls say about post-reunifi- cation, we need to begin discussing what a US troop presencewill do after unification. The American public will ask, “Whydo we need to stay there? What is our role?” • US-Japan security relations are moving into a more realistic framework. It is important to note that this is understood bySouth Korea. Japan-Korea relations are also better these days.
If the US-ROK-Japan security triangle weakens, this couldhurt US-ROK relations. We have to think of our relations inthe context of this triangular security relationship.
• Perhaps what is needed is a sort of Nye Initiative. But we should not make the mistake of the Nye Initiative, which wasnot to consult the Chinese. The Americans made sure that didnot happen again when we drew up the recent Interim Reporton US-Japan Defense Guidelines. We sent people to explainour intentions to the Chinese.
• There are real trouble spots in ROK-US relations. First is the issue of food aid to the North. The Americans do not think weneed to try to starve them to death, but we are not sure thatSouth Korea has decided not to do that. Second, on the issue ofthe four-party talks. 2 + 2 is a non-starter. We know it has to be3 + 1. The North Koreans will want the Americans in theroom. If we get hung up on the forum issue, we are going to • In some instances, the steps we have taken to deter war with the North have at times made things more dangerous. We need tothink about the precise conditions we need to have in place incase North Korea comes apart, which is likely.
• The issue of “mean-spiritedness” in the US needs to be addressed. South Korea has a large trade deficit with the US.
We are not practicing a mercantilistic trade policy. What arethe South Koreans doing wrong? • One Korean participant observed that, according to voices in North Korea, the worst is over; their food situation is improv-ing; electricity is working; therefore, our concern about animminent collapse might be exaggerated.
• Trade and investment are supposed to be ways of bringing about a soft landing in North Korea.
• The world’s NGO community views South Korea as a non-par- ticipant in many international efforts (for example, in peace-keeping missions). South Korea does not participate in thegrowing number of discussions about democracy, humanrights, environmental concerns and other issues.
• Another explanation of the hostility in the US towards South Korea might be that South Korea is not trying to promote itselfin the US as much these days. For example, there are manynew members of Congress, but the ROK is not educating them.
South Korea has lost the attention of Capitol Hill.
• The Clinton administration knows that the Agreed Framework is not liked by the ROK government or by the Korean public.
A feeling has developed in the administration that Korea is anobstacle and a headache. US policy is on auto-pilot. The USgovernment views the Korean situation as one of a vacuumand turmoil. There is very little big picture thinking going onin the US now. The Americans are waiting to see who wins theKorean election in December.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations • The ROK government is doing much more on Capitol Hill than many other Asian countries are doing. South Korea shouldknow there is a deep reservoir of support for the security com-mitment.
• During the Cold War period, the American constituency for ROK-US relations was basically the Cold War coalition. Thiscoalition has collapsed. We are doing many more things wrongnow, during this period when we think things are better. Today,there seems to be a declining level of interest in Korea amongAmericans. We need to figure out how to address this decline.
• If we consider the following three factors, then ROK-US rela- tions might actually be better than they appear: (1) Missileissues cause political polarization in all countries, so it is natur-al for allies to differ in opinion about this issue. (2) SouthKorea is in the final stages of democratization, and publicopinion is having an impact these days. Therefore, it is naturalfor Korean politicians to act in a way that might seem hostileto the US. (3) South Koreans have a sense of pride and self-confidence about their economic miracle. • The South Korean leadership has been lacking competence in dealing with issues arising from change and democratization.
Part of the problem is the American foreign policy-makingprocess. If South Korea and North Korea had negotiated theGeneva Agreement, the outcome would probably not havebeen all that different from that agreed primarily between theUS and North Korea. Americans need to be aware of the limiton choices in South Korea. • When considering the presence of the American military in post-unification Korea, perhaps it is time to think of the USrole in terms of a more regional role. Who is going to be theobject (enemy) of regional deterrence? This issue is sure toraise eyebrows in China.
• Although more than half of the Korean public is not happy about US policy towards the ROK, Korean leaders and the elite are quite positive about an American military presenceeven after reunification. We must develop new logic to per-suade the public of the benefits of a continued US militarypresence after reunification. This is our current challenge. Wemust also think about how to deal with China. What will we doif China opposes a US presence in post-unification Korea?This will largely depend on US-China relations.
• Today, the US is only pursuing stability on the Korean peninsu- la. But the ROK cannot accept stability that does not lead toreunification. This is the basic discrepancy between our twopositions.
• The four-party talks were invented to induce the North Koreans to talk with the South Koreans. Now that the North has agreedto talk, there is no longer a need to hold four-party talks.
• Now that the Cold War is over, we must reformulate the ROK- US security relationship, just as the US and Japan did.
• There appears to be a big difference between governmental views in both countries and the NGO and media views aboutthe food situation in North Korea. Why the gap? We need tomake a distinction between people connected to the NorthKorean government and those who are not. We must have first-hand accounts of those who have fled difficult situations. Thecrisis seems to still exist. We don’t know if the worst is over.
One issue is whether the North Korean government is usingthe situation as a negotiating tactic to gain more resources foritself. One Chinese-Korean scholar told me it is naïe to thinkthat the North Korean government is not confiscating the foodaid for its own use after the World Food Program people leave.
We therefore need to think more about how best to providefood aid.
• We need to pay much more attention to the impact the erosion in high-level government relations is having on the militarypeople here. From talking to military people, it seems that thetraditional bonds of trust between the two militaries is waning.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations This will have an impact on our response to potential crises. Inaddition, regarding ambivalence, in the past there was always aclose fit in how the two militaries viewed their mission. Now,this is eroding too.
• Since 1994 there have been very few occasions for the ROK and US officers to hobnob together. The informal socializationprocess is no longer occurring. Outside of work, ROK and USsoldiers do not socialize together anymore. This is a small,practical issue but one that must be addressed.
• The future of ROK-US relations depends very much on who ends up as president of South Korea and who wins out in theUS foreign policy community.
• It seems that the apathetic attitude of the US government might also exist in multilateral fora. For example, in APEC the USattitude seems quite different now than it was a few years ago.
The US has been apathetic towards new membership issues.
Why is the US government response so apathetic this year?The Koreans have very high hopes of utilizing the APECforum to promote a multilateral approach in the region. But theUS seems apathetic in these gatherings.
In closing this first session, Gleysteen mentioned that the regional dimension will be a new weight in the future (i.e. rolesof China, Japan, and Russia). He added that today greater ten-sion/less trust/more anxiety about what the future will bringexists.
Hyun added that there is a need for understanding that Korea is maturing as a nation. The US needs to handle Korea’s matura-tion in a more mature way.
Luncheon Speaker: Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoo
This year we have had a series of high-level visits from the US, and President Kim is going to New York this weekend andwill meet with President Clinton. Many National Assemblymembers have visited the US and consulted with their counter-parts.
Post-Cold War challenges are not always given enough attention. Coping with North Korea requires tactical flexibility,creativity, and firmness. One of the most difficult challenges inROK-US relations is how to deal with the food shortage in theNorth, which is on the threshold of massive famine. The situationis getting worse every day. Assessing the situation there is diffi-cult. Our knowledge is restricted to certain provinces (north andsouth of Pyongyang and the area adjacent to the Chinese border).
Contrary to what the North Korean regime says, the food prob-lem is a structural problem. It did not start with the floods in thelast few years. State-controlled collective farms often yield halfthe amount of small private farms. Deforestation is also a prob-lem. Also, priority has been given to spending on arms procure-ment and other military uses. North Korea has the fourth largeststanding army in the world. In addition, there are about 700,000security forces that are equally well- armed and well-trained. 1.7million people are trained, armed, and equipped. If Pyongyangwere to save 10% to 20% of its military expenditures, it couldbuy the food it needs. The ROK has been actively participating in providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea out of humanitarian con-cern. This year the ROK contributed $6 million in February and50,000 tons of maize and 300.000 tons of powdered milk to theWorld Food Program. The private sector-through the KoreanNational Red Cross-has been active in relief efforts.
The important point is that North Korea’s food shortage can- not be solved by humanitarian relief. It is a structural problem.
Also, massive military spending exacerbates the problem. Find-ing a solution to North Korea’s food problem can only be dealtwith once peace is established, once the four-party talks havebegun. Only then can we deal with larger structural issues.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations The Chinese have explicitly made clear their intention to contribute positively. Until recently, the Chinese view had beenunclear. But lately they have been very clear about their willing-ness to act positively.
South Korea and the US strongly believe that four-party talks are the best way to bring about a lasting peace by promotingdialogue, building confidence, etc. Once the four-party talks areheld, the agreement between the ROK government and the US isthat South Korea will be in the driver’s seat with the US playinga supportive role. North Korea has accepted the four-party talksin principle, but it has not given up its demand for substantialfood aid prior to the convening of the four-party talks. We are inno way pessimistic, however. North Korea is moving in thedirection of accepting the four-party proposal.
The successful progress of the four-party talks can help start a process that will eventually end the division on the peninsulaand will in the meantime contribute to peace and stability in theregion.
A united Korea will become a substantial regional power (70 million people and an economic power). It will also be a far moreimportant trading partner of the US.
A continued US presence in the region serves both American and Korean interests. Much of US trade in the future depends onstability in NE Asia. Policy-makers in both countries are entrusted with the duty of translating their shared interests into policies.
Question and Answer Session Following
Foreign Minister Yoo’s Comments

Question: Many of us here today believe that the ROK-US relationship needs to be put in a new framework in order to justi-fy its continued existence to people at home. Perhaps one suchjustification could be “regional security.” Do you agree with this,and if so, how can we do this without alienating China? Is a NEAsian Security Dialogue still a realistic possibility? Answer: The Cold War is not over on the Korean peninsula.
We must tackle the issue of bringing the peninsula into thepost-Cold War world. So the job of the US and the ROK is toovercome the division here. The ROK-US relationship hasexisted for fifty years, with much interaction between the twocountries. Americans understand Korea better now, and moreKoreans have been educated in the US. Both sides feel morecomfortable with the other. I don’t think any other East Asiancountry is as close (psychologically or otherwise) to the US.
So I think it’s beneficial for the US to continue this relation-ship. I don’t think we’ve become more comfortable with Japanover the last fifty years. We have become closer to Chinarecently. 40,000 Korean companies are operating or underplanning in China. 700,000 people are crossing the borderevery year. However, China’s future is not similar to Korea’sfuture. Korea, situation between China and Japan, will need anally like the US.
Question: History is often invoked in our discussion, but I don’t hear it mentioned that South Korea never signed thearmistice agreement. And yet North Korea is being blamedhere for not abiding by the armistice agreement.
Answer: The armistice was signed by the Supreme Commander of the UN Command. So we are part of the armistice agree-ment. Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations Question: But President Rhee refused to sign the agreement. Answer: We have abided by the armistice for the past fifty Question: I think it might be useful to acknowledge that South Answer: The current armistice agreement should be upheld Question: In the event of reunification on the peninsula, is there a need for a continued US security commitment? How will thisaffect South Korea’s relations with China? Answer: If Korea is unified, then Korea’s security pact with the US ought to be more like the one Japan has with the US. Sothe alliance between the US and Korean can and shouldremain, just as the alliance between Japan and the US hasremained after the Cold War. When Korea is reunited andmaintains US forces on the peninsula, China will probably feela bit tense over the possibility that it is bordering a country thatposes a security threat on the tip of its border. One possiblesolution would be to provide some geographical distancebetween US troops and China’ border, i.e. don’t put US troopsabove the current DMZ line. Korea has no reason to antago-nize China in a defense-related way.
Question: What sorts of practical suggestions do you have for Answer: If US-China relations become cold, South Korea willfeel this cold first. In our view, the way to handle the Chineseis not to push them or show antagonism towards them. If youcontinue to deal in a market economy and have free exchangeof goods and people, the Chinese will relax and be a lessthreatening power militarily in the future.
North Korean Futures and ROK-US Strategies
[Discussion Leaders: Kim Kyung-Won and Arnold Kanter] Han Sung-Joo kicked off the session by stating that there is disagreement over who, if anyone, is in control of North Korea.
There is also disagreement over the future of North Korea (howlong it will last, etc.). And there is disagreement over what kindof existence North Korea will have before unification takesplace, if and when it happens. There is even disagreement overwhether we should try to induce a soft or a hard landing (andover what soft and hard landings would be).
Kim Kyung-Won noted that the authority of the North Kore- an government appears to be eroding, as evidenced by the factthat people there are now traveling throughout the country with-out travel documents and that free markets are opening up allover the country without the authority of the government. Thegovernment is turning a blind eye to this activity. Kim said hegets the impression that the Party is losing its efficacy mainly dueto the authority of the military. For example, at large meetings ofthe Party, Kim Jong-Il encourages the Party members to “learnfrom the military.” In other words, the Party cannot provide foodto the people. Kim said he also detects the decline of ideology inNorth Korea. Despite talk of a Red Flag ideology, Kim doesn’tsee much content behind it. There is also a leadership problem inthe North. Kim Il-Sung’s ability to manage the current problemswould have been better than his successors.
Kim Kyung-Won proposed the following five scenarios for North Korea’s future: (1) continuation of the status quo (veryunlikely); (2) North Korea might succeed in revitalizing itself(also rather unlikely); (3) popular revolt/uprising/exodus (nothighly probable); (4) palace coup, organized by members of theParty combined with members of the military, depose Kim Jong-Il and make him a scapegoat (possible-popular opinion seems tobe moving in the direction of blaming Kim Jong-Il); (5) waragainst South Korea. Kim believes the idea of deterrence does Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations not apply in this last scenario, since starting a war would be sui-cidal. Rational deterrence would not help avoid this. Accordingto Kim, the chances of war are very unlikely although not totallyimpossible. No country in history has ever started a war in theface of collapse.
Kim offered the following strategy choices: (1) In the case of a popular revolt, there will be no real alternative to immediateabsorption. One issue that will arise is whether the US will havea role in North Korea, or will this be a purely South Korean job?Will the UN provide cover for this? Who will get North Koreaunder control? (2) If indications show that North Korea is aboutto attack the South, will this justify our taking a preemptivestrike? What should we do in response to limited, low-intensityattacks by North Korea? Coordination with the US would be dif-ficult in any instance, since South Korean forces have authorityin such cases. (3) If a palace coup occurs, the basic question willarise if a new group wants to talk to the ROK and asks for food.
What should the South do? Should it stabilize them or should ittry to finish them off completely and achieve unification? Canwe assume that ROK and US interests will be the same? TheROK might want unification, and the US might want to workwith the new group in North Korea, especially if it looks like itwill be a democracy. Kim said he thinks it is best to finish themoff. He then asked, “Am I wrong?” Arnold Kanter noted the extent to which people’s thinking about North Korea today is in a state of flux. Not too long ago,this group agreed that North Korea was a dangerous threat to sta-bility. Today, this might be debated. There are many differentopinions about North Korea as a threat. Many of us stood in aweof how a country in such a weak state managed to be so adept atdiplomacy. But now there is a growing sense that either NorthKorea is less skillful at doing this or that our learning curve is notabsolutely flat. North Korea is an enigma.
Kanter explained that issues related to North Korea have been both a source and a consequence of the strains betweenSouth Korea and the US. The biggest change of all is that reunifi- cation is rapidly moving from the realm of the rhetorical to therealm of the real. We are moving from the question of whether towhen and how. Two interesting questions arise: (1) How does ouranalysis of what is going on in North Korea affect our policies?(2) As South Korea and the US go through this process of analy-sis, do they see things similarly or differently? Kanter posed the following four questions to the group: (1) What is the nature of the North Korean threat to the peninsulaand to the region? (2) What are alternative reunification scenar-ios? (3) What are the implications for ROK-US relations? (4)What are the implications for bilateral and regional issues fol-lowing unification? Kanter said the US and South Korea do not have different objectives. However, the sources of tension between the twocountries are as follows: (1) The two countries do not alwaysagree on the priorities of their shared objectives and therefore donot make the same trade-offs. (2) There is a difference of opinionover how to reduce the chances of a hard landing. For example,some people in South Korea want to facilitate a crash landing inorder to speed up unification. The US, in contrast, favors a softlanding. (3) The US, as a global power, has more and more mul-tifaceted interests. For South Korea, reunification is an internalissue. For the US, the four-party talks are viewed as a muchbroader issue, because a reunified Korea would transform NEAsia and would therefore profoundly affect US interests that gofar beyond South Korea. (4) Domestic politics in both countriesare causing tension in the alliance. South Korea is becomingincreasingly self-absorbed in its politics. In the US, there is aprogressive erosion in the international core.
Kanter concluded by noting that there appears to be a grow- ing ambivalence in South Korea about the desirability of unifica-tion in the shortest amount of time possible. This ambivalenceseems to increase as prospects for unification and for NorthKorea’s collapse become more real and imminent. He asked, “Isstaving off North Korea’s collapse feasible? If so, what will ittake to do so? Are we inclined to do it? How? Is engineering a Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations soft landing desirable; is it feasible? Where is China in all ofthis? How and when do we engage China? What role do weimagine China playing?” Participant Discussion
The following comments were made during the discussion follow-ing the two presentations.
• In order to encourage a soft landing in North Korea, we must make substantial assistance not contingent on North Koreanreciprocity on issues of concern to the US and the ROK(speaker said he was not advocating this, but merely defininghow to encourage a soft landing).
• A hard landing was defined as chaos and violence in North Korea spilling over into South Korea and China.
• South Korea needs to ensure there is something going on in North Korea that would keep the North Korean people frommoving to South Korea (i.e. avoid having 400,000 North Kore-an refugees in the streets of Seoul). • It has been two-and-a-half years since the Agreed Framework was signed. It appears to be a fundamentally flawed agreementin need of change. The nuclear freeze is of limited value. Nowwe are pursuing the four-way talks, and our worst fears arebeing realized. Something is obviously wrong with our policy.
The Americans and South Koreans need to offer a substantialaid and trade package in return for some very specific condi-tions, which should be based on the basic agreements of 1992.
The 1992 documents need to become the central focus of theROK and US governments.
• Considering the costs and risks of a new Korean war, of refugee outflows, and other scenarios, we have no alternative than topursue a soft landing.
• If the Americans decide to move into North Korea, they must check with China beforehand. If not, China will likely takemilitary action to protect its interests.
• Perhaps the American side should offer an economic relation- ship as part of a larger package to North Korea. It would beimpossible and ill-advised for South Korea to do this at thispoint, although dangling it out there might be beneficial.
• A North-South dialogue has been taking place through KEDO.
KEDO has provided a very valuable function in showing theworld that North Korea can keep its commitments and abideby international agreements.
• In the case of Kim Kyung-Won’s “popular revolt” and “palace coup” scenarios, it would be the sole responsibility of the ROKforces to be in control of North Korean territory. In time ofwar, this would require the consent of the Combined ForcesCommand, which is under an American general. In peacetime,the ROK could legally move its forces into North Korea, butthe political reality would be more complicated.
• The US conducts its policies in the following order: global, regional, peninsular. South Korea’s priorities are in exactly thereverse order.
• We have got to engage the Chinese in dialogue now and be straight with them about the consequences of asking the USforces to leave the peninsula in terms of the US-Japan relation-ship/reaction.
• Would propping up North Korea be viewed as postponing or • If we believe that avoiding a hard landing is the preeminent pri- ority, then we must be prepared to offer the North Koreanssubstantial assistance unconditionally.
• If you believe the Achilles’ heel of the North Korean regime is its insularity and that the regime cannot survive without deal- Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations ing with its economic problems, then you ought to give themthe carrots to subvert the regime and to prepare for its collapse.
• It is very unfortunate that the global view of South Korea is that it is silent on the goal of reunification. The ROK leadershipneeds a philosophical argument to use when presenting its caseto the public.
• If we just watch the North Koreans for the next year, the prob- • In the case of a popular revolt or a palace coup in North Korea, we should not send in ROK or American troops. Doing sowould set a terrible precedent. Perhaps we could have a UNcommission that would allow peace-keepers to go into theNorth and restore order. The UN commission would be giventhe responsibility of ensuring that a free and fair referendumwould be conducted in North Korea. South Korea would thenprovide assistance to the North for a number of years while theNorth demobilizes its military forces.
• There are several instances where we might need to send troops into North Korea in the case of a hard landing. First, we willneed to ensure that their weapons of mass destruction do notget into the wrong hands. Second, something must be donewith the 1.7 million armed people residing there. Third, NorthKorea could end up like Somalia, with armed bandits runningloose and taking advantage of the situation.
• There might be a need to educate the international community, beyond China and especially in the US, about whether theDMZ is a permanent or temporary division.
• China’s policy is much more pragmatic than some here have implied. The Chinese will want to back winners, not losers.
Their handling of the Hwang Jang-Yop issue proved they arepragmatic. The Chinese will not go to great lengths to saveNorth Korea.
• We need to separate the collapse and unification issues and deal with them separately. For the collapse model, perhaps Romaniais a better model than the German model.
• The UN formula mentioned earlier has some problems, because the Japanese and the Russians will be sorry if they do not par-ticipate. For South Korea, the best solution would be for USand ROK troops to move into the North with the consent of theChinese.
• The four-party talks are a voyage with no compass. We will have more difficulties after the talks in trying to weigh theinterests of all the parties. How can we induce the participationof Japan and Russia without holding six-party talks? Is thereany alternative to this? • It is a mystery why the poisoned carrot approach is still unten- able in both the US and South Korea.
• The food-for-peace strategy is not workable. We should just provide food-with no linkage. The political problem for theSouth Korean government is that it cannot say publicly, “Weshould provide poisoned rice to the North.” It is difficult to sellthe food aid idea, because the government can only say itwould be doing so out of brotherly love.
• During the Cold War, someone once analyzed the US attitude towards the Soviet Union as “dealers and squeezers.” Today,most Americans in this room seem to be dealers, whereas mostKoreans seem to be squeezers. Koreans want to finish NorthKorea off; Americans are more concerned about avoiding war.
Are there any dealers in the South Korean government? • The South Korean government’s formal policy is to deal with • Suppose the palace coup is led by a North Korean version of Park Chung-Hee, who wants to modernize with a little help fromSouth Korea. Would you want to finish him off? • What if the carrots are not poisoned and end up propping up the Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations North Korean regime? This would not be in the US interest. Itis dangerous to pursue a policy that says the more dangerousand weak the North is, the more we should help them. There isa third option, which is to give food aid but not much of any-thing else. Basically just let the North Korean regime destroyitself.
• Why is South Korea seen as stubborn by demanding condi- tions? This is a matter of political credibility.
• When South Koreans think of a hard landing, they think of massive refugee flows but not of war.
• Regarding the use of the UN in North Korea, this option should be considered very carefully, since the North Koreans coulduse it for the purpose of withdrawing US forces from thepeninsula.
Beyond Unification: The Korean Peninsula
[Discussion Leaders: Han Sung-Joo and Morton Halperin] Han Sung-Joo began his discussion by noting that “post-uni- fication” basically means “post-division.” Unification could turnout to be a prolonged and messy process. The Korean case willprobably not be like that of German unification. Instead, it islikely to involve military or diplomatic intervention of somekind. Therefore, we must design responses and strategies beforeany of the scenarios occurs. We know that unification will likelynot occur through the agreement of both sides, except in theunlikely case that a successor regime to Kim Jong-Il gives uppower and joins the South. All indications show that any NorthKorean regime will fight until the very end. Han asked, “How will the actual process take place?” It could start with the defection of some North Korean militaryunits, which would lead to erosion and ultimately to an internalstruggle. A power vacuum might ensue, followed by intervention by South Korea, the US, and most likely China. Basically thereare three stages: (1) a stage leading to where reunification begins;(2) the process of unification itself; and (3) post-unification.
Regarding modes of intervention, Han said he does not think the US would want South Korea to intervene unilaterally. Also,North Korea and the international community would not be surehow South Korean troops would handle North Korea. The US islikely to prefer intervention by South Korea and the US together.
Russia will want to be involved, but it does not have any legaljustification or the means to do so. However, we should still dealwith Russian concerns and interests. Han said it would be possible to persuade the Chinese that it is in their best interest for US troops to stay on the peninsulaafter unification. But China will not want to see US troops northof the DMZ. China will, however, likely accept the continuedpresence of US troops in a reduced number and south of theDMZ.
As for Russia, politically there will be pressure on a Russian government not to have American troops confronting Russia onits western front in Europe and on its eastern front on the Koreanpeninsula.
After unification takes place, the main issues will be (1) security; (2) economic rehabilitation of North Korea; (3) socio-political reintegration of North and South Korea; (4) diplomaticadjustment. Regarding security, the most important issue will bethat of US troops. We do not know if the US government andpublic will want to keep troops here. Han said he does notbelieve South Korea will want the troops to leave, but this willdepend on the South Korean leadership at that time and on SouthKorean relations with China. It seems that Japan will support acontinued US presence on the peninsula if for no other reasonthan their not wanting to be the only Asian country hostingAmerican troops. China shares many of the same objectives onthe peninsula as the US (keep it denuclearized and stable). Thisinterest will likely continue after unification. Han said he has thedistinct impression the Chinese do not oppose the re-establish- Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations ment of relations between the US and North Korea. The Chineseprivately admit that they see the wisdom of keeping Americantroops in Asia, that is, in Korea and Japan. On the other hand, theChinese would not want to see Japan or a unified Korea joinwhat they might perceive as a military encirclement of China.
The Russians recognize their limitations, but they do not want tobe bypassed or dismissed. They want to bring the issue to the UNSecurity Council. Han said he thinks the best scenario would beto work with the existing UN command in the case of unificationrather than taking the case to the Security Council, which wouldbring in other players. We should be cautious of Russia’s role,since they will want to reassert themselves in the future.
Economically, we must deal with the food crisis now, and we will have to rehabilitate North Korea at some point in thefuture. Perhaps some kind of consortium can be formed, hopeful-ly with South Korean leadership but also with the support andpossibly the joint leadership of the US. Such an internationalconsortium would help with the food crisis in a systematic andsustained way. It will deal with the current crisis but will also setprecedents for dealing with North Korea after unification. SouthKorea will need outside help to rehabilitate North Korea. Socio-political integration will involve, among other things, integrating the educational systems and labor, stabilizing the pop-ulation, and instituting elections. What is the international role inall of this? South Korea will need international organizations,especially specialized agencies, to help do all of this.
How do we prepare for post-unification? The largest share will be done unilaterally by South Korea, the US, Japan andChina. This is being done now, but not sufficiently. Bilateralcooperation and coordination (ROK-US, ROK-China, ROK-Japan, US-China, US-Japan) must also be done. In addition, weshould try to involve China in a multilateral way. Perhaps aChina-US-ROK mechanism or discussion. Also, Japan-US-ROKand Japan-US-China-Russia-ROK discussions should take place.
North Korea could also be involved in these discussions in someway now. Involving them will get them accustomed to dealing with the rest of the world and will also provide an internationalguarantee that South Korea will not roll over them when unifica-tion occurs.
Morton Halperin addressed the security issue in a post-unifi- cation NE Asia. For the sake of discussion, he assumed that uni-fication will take place in the next five years with no majorinternational incident. After unification there will be five majorpowers centered in this region, three of which will be nuclearweapons states. The other two will have the option of becomingnuclear weapons states. There will not be clear alliances or anymajor territorial disputes. There will be good bilateral relationsbetween many if not all pairs of states. The security commitmentbetween the US and Japan and the US and Korea will continue.
But there will be no multilateral security arrangements. NE Asiawill not be, as the result of unification, worry-free of militaryaggression by others in the region. Therefore, we should seize this opportunity to create a new security organization limited to these five states and to problemsof international peace and security. Such an organization wouldbe cooperative rather than collective, patterned more like theOSCE than NATO but limited to international security matters(would not deal with human rights, for example). The organiza-tion would have a small permanent secretariat and a permanentcouncil perhaps rotating among capitals. The mission of the orga-nization would be (1) to prevent international conflict among thefive states or between them and other states in the region; (2) todevelop means to deal with threats to international peace andsecurity affecting the member states and the region; (3) to discussother matters of common concern relating to international peaceand security. Activities of this new NEACSA would be (1) todevelop and implement arms control, confidence-building mea-sures and cooperative security arrangements among the statesincluding agreements to withdraw forces from common bordersand to reduce and limit arms; (2) to develop arbitration, media-tion and other means to resolve existing territorial and other dis-putes affecting international peace and security; (3) to deal with Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations nuclear weapons issues affecting the region taking account of thefact that the three greatest nuclear weapons states are among thefive members (use this forum to move toward the NPT objectiveof reducing and then eliminating nuclear weapons); (4) to pro-vide a forum for discussion of other issues affecting internationalpeace and security in the region.
Under such an arrangement, the US security treaties with the ROK and Japan would remain in force. They would be viewed asa back-up in the event that the new organization failed to preventarmed attacks or threats of the use of force against any of thethree states in the region. They would not be directed against anystate. The treaties would continue the commitment of the US toprevent any state from using or threatening to use nuclearweapons against Korea or Japan. The US force would remain inthe two countries to increase the credibility of the conventionaland nuclear commitments and to facilitate the continuation ofjoint military planning.
If this is the direction in which we want to move after unifi- cation, we should consider seeking to bring the five states-not asa group-into discussions now of how unification can take placewithout threatening the security of any state. Among the topics tobe discussed would be (1) the need to consult on an urgent basisin the event that the situation in North Korea from a humanitari-an or security perspective seemed to require military interven-tion; (2) agreement in advance on military deployments in a uni-fied Korea as they relate to common borders with other states,including the question of where US forces would be stationed;(3) commitment to the continued denuclearization of Korea bothbefore and after unification, including a commitment of thenuclear states not to deploy nuclear weapons in Korea or tothreaten the use of nuclear weapons or use nuclear weapons onthe peninsula before or after unification.
Participant Discussion
The following comments were made during the discussion follow-ing the two presentations.
• How can we deal with consultations now? Specifically, how do we deal with Korea being divided? We cannot bring the twoKoreas together now for these consultations. If we try to bringin North Korea now, they will view it as a threat (i.e. as part ofSouth Korea’s rollover of North Korea).
• Before starting to establish a security organization like the one proposed above, we must first tackle some of the inevitablepolitical questions that will arise. A reunified Korea will trans-form the Asia-Pacific region and therefore cannot be seen as aKorean issue or a bilateral US-ROK issue. Others in the regionmust be engaged. Two of the central questions for how a uni-fied Korea will affect the region are whether there will be acontinued US troop presence on the peninsula after unificationand whether a unified Korea will renounce nuclear ambitions.
The answers to these two questions are interrelated. Thechances of a unified Korea with no US forces and whichrenounces nuclear weapons are not high. There will not betime to deal with these issues once reunification occurs. There-fore we should start working on both of these issues now. Onthe nuclear issue, the task is for South Korea to state nowwhether it will commit to being a nuclear-free state. On the UStroop issue, the public rationale needs to start undergoingchange. In other words, we need to start explaining to theAmerican public now why the US needs to maintain troops ina reunified Korea.
• We need to engage China on these two vital issues now-before the organization is formed. In many ways, China is alreadymore engaged than are Japan and Russia. And what Chinabelieves and does is more important than what Japan and Rus-sia believe and do.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations • One of the conditions for such a multilateral forum is the pro- motion of bilateral relations between the US and China. It mustbe made clear that the purpose of such an organization is not togang up on China. To do this, Taiwan has to be brought intothis mix.
• The time might not be right for a NE Asia security organiza- tion, but it certainly is right for a NE Asia security dialogue.
• Another potential problem is that China might be reluctant to join such a group/discussion before North Korea collapses.
• What will be the Japanese reaction to such a group? Will they think it will dilute their security alliance with the US? • It is very difficult to arrange now any government-to- govern- ment multilateral arrangement, especially dealing with theKorea issue. On the whole, if it comes to the Korea issue, gov-ernment-to-government discussion can be done mainly in thebilateral context. Multilateral discussion has to take place in aquasi-or non-governmental context. • There has been government-to-government Japan-China-US • It will be difficult to have a multilateral discussion of the Kore- an issue that involves either or both of the Koreas.
• The current relationship between South Korea and Japan has been ambivalent to say the least and at times has not been sogood. How will relations be once Korea is unified? Perhaps theUS-Korea alliance might somehow facilitate relations betweena unified Korea and Japan.
• In working towards a multilateral security consortium like the one proposed today, the first task would be to work first andforemost with the ROK. The international community mustkeep in mind that Korea has a 5,000 year history of beinginvaded or interfered with. If we take actions that create fear oranger in Koreans, we will get a very strong reaction. • In addition to the four-party proposal, which is sort of a top- down concept, there are many bottom-up things happening.
For example South-North trade is increasing, which is creatinga bottom-up momentum. The KEDO talks are another goodexample of bottom-up actions.
• If the four-party talks begin and prove productive, it would seem obvious that at some point dialogue has to broaden toinclude Japan and Russia.
• In principle, North Korea has accepted the four-party talks.
However, they have placed conditions on starting the talks.
They wish to correct the imbalance in the four countries; theyhave asked South Korea and the US to provide a formal com-mitment on food aid; they have offered the 3 + 1 concept, thatis, North Korea, South Korea, and the US must discuss issuesand determine a formula before inviting China to join the talks.
North Korea does not seem to understand the benefits of hold-ing four-party talks. They don’t have a full grasp of the con-tents of such talks.
• Halperin’s proposal as a probe to China might yield some inter- esting insights. Would that be tolerable in South Korea? • South Korea does not appear ready to conduct serious dialogue • Bringing North Korea into a pre-unification security dialogue is premature. However, we need to let everyone know that we areworking towards the eventual inclusion of North Korea.
• China is the key to regional security dialogue. But we also need to keep the Japanese and Russians equally involved.
• It is a mistake to raise and answer the question of a continued US troop presence on the peninsula before we discuss whatkind of security arrangement we will have in the post-unifica-tion NE Asia region.
• Recently Korea and Japan have started a security dialogue.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations • Han Sung-Joo’s idea of a multilateral consortium to provide economic assistance to North Korea is intriguing. A PeaceCorp-type of component (i.e. bringing in experts in urban plan-ning, health care, etc. ) should also be considered.
• We must not let euphemisms kid us about what the ultimate American goal in this region is: to play an equilibrium role,which does have an anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese, and anti-Korean element to it.
• The question at the end of this session is how to prioritize our actions towards all the things we have mentioned that need tobe done. I want to underscore how critical it is to bring inChina as much as possible. The more we bring them in nowand make them an active part of the process, the more they willwork with the process positively in the future. They will notundermine the results of a process which they themselvesworked towards.
• KEDO should not be used in any way other than its original nuclear focus. It should not be broadened to include an eco-nomic assistance component.
• Is it true that a formalization of the security dialogue could only • The Korean people will likely resent being sold the continued US troop presence in exchange for Korea’s renunciation ofnuclear weapons. The best way to bring this about would be tomake it look like the international community is applying pres-sure for Korea to renounce nuclear weapons and for Koreathen to “demand” a guarantee from someone to protect it fromits neighbors. Then the Korean people might accept the contin-ued presence of US troops. The bottom line is that the US mustbe sensitive to the near obsession in Korea with the sovereign-ty issue.
• The Korean government needs to have a discussion about exactly what it wants as a security arrangement in a post-unifi- cation period. Then it needs to open a dialogue with the US. Itwould be counterproductive to happen the other way around.
• The US government needs to stop pushing the Japanese to say things regarding its role in East Asian security that make othercountries in the region uncomfortable. However, it would be aprofound mistake for South Korea to talk to China about itsconcerns over Japan’s comments.
• The Chinese are not yet ready to get involved in a NE Asia security dialogue, but they have not closed the door on the pos-sibility. At the track-two level in CSCAP, for example, they areparticipating quite actively.
• There is tremendous pressure in South Korea to help North Korea. South Korean assistance should therefore not be viewedas caving in to US pressure.
• We must be clear about our intentions for a continued US troop presence after unification, especially about what we do notintend to do. We do not intend to move troops north of theDMZ. We must also assure China that the US presence will notbe anti-Chinese. The two primary purposes of the continuedUS presence will be to maintain stability in the region and tokeep Japan and unified Korea non-nuclear.
• It is possible to persuade the Korean public of the need to keep American troops in Korea and that Korea should stay non-nuclear, but we have to persuade them on each of these sub-jects separately. • The main argument in Korea (for justifying a continued US troop presence and staying non-nuclear) will have to be tokeep Japan non-nuclear, non-militarized, and from playing aregional role.
Search for a Framework for ROK-US Relations <US Participants>
Senior Fellow for U.S. Commercial Diplomacy Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy,Council on Foreign Relations <Korean Participants>
Professor, Seokyung UniversityFormer Ambassador to Taiwan & Brazil Member, The National AssemblyFormer Deputy Prime Minister Professor, Korea UniversityFormer Foreign Minister Senior Partner, Kim & Chang Attorney-at-LawFormer Ambassador to U.S.
Dean, Graduate School of Public Administration,Yonsei University Former Minister of Science & Technology President, Seoul Forum for International AffairsFormer Ambassador to U.S.
Professor, Institute of Foreign Affairs & NationalSecurity, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of Sea Dean, Graduate School of International Studies,Ewha Women’s University Dean, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies,Hanyang University Director General North American Affairs Bureau,Ministry of Foreign Affairs <Rapporteur>
Director Assistant, Ilmin Int’l Relations lnstitute,Korea University


Rtg_patient tracking_september 2013.xls

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