Kim Jong-un’s thoughts about the ‘China threat’… North Korea’s Unpredictable Diplomacy

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un, North Korean Workers’ Party general secretary. (Provided by the US Department of State) 2018.10.8/News 1

The anecdote of the ‘denuclearization negotiations’ with North Korea, which former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed in his memoir, provides a glimpse into the North Korean-style diplomatic strategy that focuses on ‘profits’ in a complicated situation.

In his memoir published on the 24th (local time), former Secretary Pompeo revealed the contents of the conversation he had when he visited North Korea in March 2018 and met Kim Jong-un, the general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. At that time, North Korea’s forward-looking attitude and the “denuclearization negotiations” between North Korea and the United States had just begun, and it was the first time the two had met face-to-face.

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According to the memoir, Secretary General Kim responded by calling the Chinese people liars to Pompeo’s remark that “China tells us that ‘Secretary Kim will be happy if the US troops leave Korea'”.

After this reaction, General Secretary Kim said, “I need US troops in Korea to protect me from China.”

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According to the memoir, he also revealed to former Secretary Pompeo that he had “diagnosed” that the withdrawal of US forces in South Korea was what China wanted, not North Korea, and that this was because China wanted to treat the Korean Peninsula like Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

It is possible that former Secretary Pompeo exaggerated some scenes in his memoir to emphasize the historical ‘experience’ of the North American negotiations. Also, since it is a one-sided description, it is true that everything described in the memoir requires further verification.

Nevertheless, the logic and conclusion of Kim’s argument described in the memoir is that North Korea’s diplomatic strategy, which has maintained a permanent ‘blood alliance’ with China and is recognized as ‘hated’ by the United States, is at least in 2018, almost at the opposite level. It suggests that it was different, and analysis suggests that it is necessary to pay attention to anticipate North Korea’s actions in the future.

In 2018, North Korea used a strategy of raising the ‘North Korean nuclear crisis’ to its peak and then using it as a negotiating card. It is a way to raise the value of the negotiating card to the highest level and move the other party.

However, North Korea was also negotiating on the North Korean nuclear issue at an unprecedented level based on its strong close relationship with China at the time. Ahead of the North American and inter-Korean summits, Secretary-General Kim visits China to meet with President Xi Jinping, steadily directing ‘events’. It was even evaluated that North Korea made a ‘pre-report’ to China and received ‘approval’.

However, according to former Secretary Pompeo’s memoirs, it is suggested that North Korea at the time engaged in negotiations with strategies and goals that were completely different from the way it was shown on the surface.

In particular, it is quite noticeable that Secretary General Kim mentioned the ‘threat’ of China, saying ‘I have to protect myself from China’.

It is more noteworthy that he made this comment out of concern about the way China treats Tibet and Xinjiang. This is because it shows that Secretary General Kim’s evaluation of China at the time was not short-term or obsessed only with the situation on the Korean Peninsula at the time.

In addition, it is impressive that Secretary General Kim made a statement that seemed to reveal his ‘inner thoughts’ to the United States, which was at the most confrontation with China at the time and defined as the biggest ‘enemy’ for decades since the Korean War.

Some believe that such remarks by Secretary General Kim are only in accordance with diplomatic strategy and will be different from his ‘honest thoughts’. It is possible that Secretary General Kim, who has to negotiate the ‘maximum negotiation’ with the United States, may have used China as one of the ways to move the United States.

It is presumed that the reason why China did not come forward while serving as North Korea’s “back ship” during the year 2018, when North Korea’s denuclearization negotiations made great progress, is because it has already shared North Korea’s “negotiation strategy.”

On the other hand, there is a view that Secretary General Kim’s remarks at the time were the result of independent judgment and strategic use without any prior sympathy with China.

Relations between North Korea and China have long been evaluated as ‘blood alliance’, but in fact, North Korea’s concern that China, which is trying to increase its influence on the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea’s concern that it may fall into a ‘vassal state’ of China due to the difference in national power will inevitably collide in a big way. from the point of view that there was no

The fact that North Korea put a lot of effort into improving bilateral relations with the United States and eventually establishing diplomatic ties, and that in 2018 North Korea and North Korea actually agreed on procedures for establishing diplomatic ties, such as ‘opening a liaison office’, made Kim’s remarks more meaningful than ‘strategy’. It supports the claim that it will be close to what was confided.

In addition to solving the short-term long-cherished project of lifting economic sanctions, the fact that North Korea can build a breakwater to block the ‘threat’ from China is also cited as a reason for North Korea’s efforts to improve relations with the United States.

The ‘testimony’ of a former high-ranking US official who was deeply involved in the unprecedented level of North Korea-US negotiations provides a glimpse into North Korea’s complicated diplomatic strategy.

A former high-ranking official also pointed out that “North Korea is a country that uses a strategy that focuses on ‘survival’ more than other countries.”

In this context, former Secretary of State Pompeo believed that even if the United States strengthened its military capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea would not employ a strategy to ‘overturn’ the situation. From North Korea’s point of view, it seems to be based on the judgment that maintaining US influence on the Korean Peninsula is advantageous for negotiations.

It is an analysis that this has implications even in the current situation where military tensions with North Korea are greatly heightened. It is in the aspect that North Korea may one day ‘manage’ the situation in the direction of ‘accumulating cards’ for future negotiations, rather than running toward ‘war’.

Source: Donga

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