Monday, January 19, 2015

Park calls for creating conditions for talks with N. Korea

I received the comments below in response to this from a Korea Hand who has probably forgot more about the ROK/US Alliance than the rest of us know.  I think this short paragraph does more to explain the importance of the ROK/US alliance than anything else we can read in official statements, from the press or the pundits.

The ROK-US Alliance is critical to President Park’s successful implementation of her unification policy, a policy mandated by the ROK’s 1987 Constitution (by type, not content, the latter being the individual President’s prerogative).  First, it defends the ROK people, territory and institutions by deterring North Korean aggression, albeit it only limits, not completely deters, NK provocations.  Secondly, it represents the commonly shared values of both the ROK and US in the concepts of democracy and free markets and the defense of those values.  Thirdly, the designation and manning of a US four-star to serve as the wartime commander of designated ROK and US forces amplifies the message of US commitment to the defense of the ROK, as does the bilateral manning of the ROK-US Combined Forces Command.  This is critical should NK deception be successful.  Fourthly, the US technical capabilities contribute to President Park’s awareness of NK deception in behavior, intent and negotiation through detection of inconsistent actions - not perfect, but critical.  Fifthly, it serves significantly as a consideration point in foreign investment into the ROK.  All US traders will tell you they calculate the efficacy of the alliance into their risk-vs-gain calculations when investing in the ROK, something other nations’ investors do as well.  There are many more points of consideration, but these have always been the main issues, regardless of the politics that distort, one way or another, their criticality.  President Park goes into any negotiation with NK with this kind of confidence.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Maxwell <>
Date: Mon, Jan 19, 2015 at 10:29 AM
Subject: Park calls for creating conditions for talks with N. Korea

This is where the alliance priority should be.  The South should absolutely be in the lead with the north.  It is really only the practical way to manage the situation with the north.  As long on President Parks has the foundation of the strong ROK/US Alliance she can have flexibility and agility in conducting diplomacy with the north.
   South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday called on officials to create conditions to allow North Korea to come forward for talks in the latest conciliatory gesture toward Pyongyang to jump-start stalled dialogue.

   Park also said the two Koreas should start substantial dialogue to lay the groundwork for their potential unification.

   The call came as North Korea has remained silent on South Korea's recent offer to ministerial talks in January to discuss such bilateral issues as the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

   "I hope that you will make efforts to come up with conditions under which North Korea can respond," Park said in a meeting at the presidential office where she received a briefing on South Koreas' policy on North Korea, defense and foreign affairs.

   She did not elaborate on what she meant by conditions, though they appear to suggest that South Korea should take steps to stop its people from sending propaganda leaflets to North Korea.

   Park's thinly veiled request came days after North Korea's powerful National Defense Commission urged South Korea to clarify whether Seoul is serious about dialogue with Pyongyang or whether it will persist in the anti-North Korean leafleting campaign.

   The two Koreas last held high-level talks in February in 2014. They had agreed to hold high-level contact between late October and early November during a surprise visit to South Korea by a high-powered North Korean delegation. But the North later backtracked on the deal in protest of the leaflets.

   For years, North Korean defectors in the South and conservative activists have flown the leaflets to the North via balloons to help encourage North Koreans to eventually rise up against the Pyongyang regime.

   North Korea has repeatedly called for an end of the leafleting campaign that it claims insults its dignity. The issue has long been a constant source of tension between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

   South Korea has said there are no legal grounds to prevent its activists from floating the leaflets, citing freedom of expression. But it has also asked defectors to refrain from floating the leaflets.

   A local court ruled earlier this month that South Korean authorities can intervene and stop the leafleting campaign if there is a clear threat to the safety of South Koreans.

   In October, the two Koreas exchanged machine gun fire across the border after the North apparently tried to shoot down balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets. North Korea has repeatedly threatened to retaliate against the leafleting campaign.

   Also at the meeting, Park called on the military to maintain its readiness to defend against North Korea's possible provocations and to increase its capability to counter North Korea's asymmetric threats, including its cyber-attacks.

   The comments came after the U.S. slapped sanctions on North Korea over its alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures for its comedy film "The Interview," which depicts a plot to assassinate its leader Kim Jong-un.

   The FBI has determined that North Korea was behind the hacking. North Korea has denied any responsibility, although it described the attack as a "righteous deed."

   SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap)

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