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Part IV: North Korea

North Korea’s Denuclearization, by Naoko Aoki
An examination of the breakdown of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea’s denuclearization in late 2008 and the increase in tensions in the first half of 2009 can identify the reasons for the collapse in the latest international effort to denuclearize the country. Mutual mistrust between the United States and North Korea has played a major role in the collapse of the denuclearization process and the subsequent heightening of tensions. North Korea’s peace initiatives since the summer of 2009—termed by some as a “charm offensive”—culminated in the December 2009 trip to North Korea by Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy. While the U.S. envoy’s trip is a positive development from the point of view of avoiding misinterpretations and misrepresentations, there is a continuing danger of mutual mistrust triggering dynamics that negatively affect any future denuclearization efforts. North Korea maintains various nuclear programs and possibly nuclear collaboration with other countries. An assessment of how far North Korea has progressed in reversing all that was accomplished during the “disablement” phase since the collapse of the Six-Party Talks in December 2008 may provide an insight into the challenges ahead for denuclearization efforts.

“North Korea’s Denuclearization: The Challenge of Breaking the Cycle of Mistrust,” is an excerpt from Part IV of the 2009 SAIS U.S.-Korea Yearbook.

The Lost Year: Nuclear Escalation and the Absence of Six-Party Talks, by Zander Lanfried
There was little progress in North Korea’s nuclear disarmament through the Six-Party Talks in 2009. After a rocket launch and second nuclear test early in the year, North Korea seemed to be willfully provoking the international community. This position was suddenly tempered in the second half of the year as North Korea sought engagement with the United States and invited Stephen Bosworth for talks in Pyongyang. While the Six-Party process has led to some achievements in the past, mistrust, divergent objectives among the six parties, and other issues have slowed the pace of progress. Although North Korea initially rejected the idea of ever returning to Six-Party Talks after UN sanctions were imposed on it for its nuclear test, it softened its stance and now appears open to further discussion through the Six-Party framework. Despite U.S. claims to the contrary, North Korea’s willingness to participate in discussions is driven more by internal politics than by external pressure. Should Six-Party Talks resume in the future, a host of problems await the participants, with no clear solutions.

“The Lost Year: Nuclear Escalation and the Absence of Six-Party Talks,” is an excerpt from Part IV of the 2009 SAIS U.S.-Korea Yearbook.

Kaesong Industrial Complex: Is It Changing the DPRK? by Sarah Yun
The Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) is the archetype of inter-Korean economic cooperation. Since its inception in 2004, however, the existence of the KIC has been under constant scrutiny and attack from both Koreas. North Korea has recognized the KIC as an economic incentive and decided to use it as a trading and negotiating factor. South Korea has embraced the KIC as a potential instrument for profit by leveraging the North’s cheap labor, proximity, and low training cost. Furthermore, the KIC is a means of bolstering legitimacy for both sides, providing direct foreign currency to the Kim Jong-il regime and political support for Lee Myung-bak. Incentives and wealth created by the complex are too significant for either country to ignore. Due to economic stakes created, interaction on various levels has increased between the two Koreas, labor and human rights standards have shown signs of improvement and North Koreans’ perception of South Koreans has improved. Steps should be taken to continue to leverage the incentives in order to better engage with the DPRK.

Kaesong Industrial Complex: Is It Changing the DPRK? is an excerpt from Part IV of the 2009 SAIS U.S.-Korea Yearbook.