Cumulative efforts may bring hidden changes on Korean Peninsula

By Jin Kai Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/29 19:33:42

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has significantly improved since 2017. Although its missile capability was officially reaffirmed during that period, North Korea nevertheless has proved its determination to seek reconciliation and denuclearization on the peninsula. With a series of summits among North Korean, South Korean, Chinese and American leaders, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has impressed the world not only with his courage, wisdom and diplomatic skills, but also a strong political will to seek actual change.

In sense of timing and frequency, recent visits by Kim are obviously quite significant when it comes to the existing and evolving power structure on the Korean Peninsula, and a possible upcoming visit to Russia by Kim may further prove that North Korea is seeking a progressive, controllable and uncompromising change in the region,  and of course its national image.

First, three summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in undoubtedly "reset" trilateral relations between the US and the two Koreas to a certain degree. After all, strategic consensus on peace and reconciliation between North Korea and the US was reached and made public after the historic summit in Singapore, but many technical issues still need to be resolved between the two nations across the 38th parallel. This is probably a very important "hidden" structural change between North Korea and the US-South Korea alliance, which may somehow "compel" the US to seriously reconsider its policies toward both Pyongyang and Seoul. The point is, supporting active reconciliation between the two Koreas is probably an issue of "political correctness" for policymakers in Washington. But the concern is how "tolerant" the US can be. For the Koreas, "brotherhood" certainly may be fully utilized to bring about certain structural changes on the peninsula, even with different political ends.

Second, given the existing and evolving differences between North Korea and the US over a series of issues on denuclearization, it is still very premature to expect a quick end to the overall standoff. In such circumstances, a "brotherhood" between the two Koreas is far from enough to serve particularly the best of North Korea. International support is extremely important. Kim's visits to China have successfully cleared up the earlier alleged estrangement between the two countries, and a visit to Russia, if being realized, may further give Pyongyang more international support and confidence. After all, China and Russia are two major powers in and across the region.

All the above summits, visits, and the possible upcoming visit by Kim to Russia may bring some minor but crucial changes to the regional situation and structure. Even though the "brotherhood" between two Koreas may not "triumph" over US-South Korea ties, a proactive reconciliation between these two countries may still create some strategic pressure on the US, not to mention that Pyongyang is currently seeking support of both China and Russia at the same time. For the US, this can be a kind of "procedural isolation" brought about by North Korea, which may bring some hidden structural changes to the Korean Peninsula.

The author is an assistant research fellow with Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences.


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