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LinkAsia | Apr 20
North Korea has demanded an apology from the South after anti-North Korean protesters took to the streets of Seoul to deface the DPRK flag and burn...
To give us another perspective on the proposed satellite launch, we have Abraham Kim from the Korea Economic Institute here in the studio with us. And on Skype, we have Professor Han Park, a public policy and international affairs scholar from the University of Georgia. Welcome to the show, gentlemen. Professor Park, does the proposed satellite launch clearly violate what North Korea has already agreed to do, or is there a real argument to be made here that they’re still holding up their end of the agreement?
Han Park, University of Georgia:
I think we have two versions. The North Koreans are very sincere in believing that it is indeed a satellite and not missile. And therefore it is in no violation of the Beijing Agreement or prior commitment. But now the question is, is it missile or is it satellite? The United States and the United Nations made a mistake by not insisting on the inclusion of the term "satellite." So they [North Korea] have a little wiggling room, technically speaking.
Abe, it seems like the North Koreans are relying on a very technical or even legalistic distinction. Do you think that’s a valid distinction, between a satellite and a missile?
Abraham Kim, Korea Economic Institute:
I don’t, because basically the same technology that is used to send a rocket into space with a satellite is a similar technology used to put a warhead and send a rocket and weapon long distances.
Professor Park, you’ve gone to North Korea every year for the last 25 years, and you’re planning to go again to actually witness the launch of this satellite. If they go ahead with this, down this path, do you think that there’s any way that they can still salvage the food for nukes deal that they struck on February 29th?
As long as the United States and South Korea and the western world is where it is, probably the deal is going to be aborted. Does that mean North Korea will alter its behavior? Certainly not. They have shown again and again that they are implementing whatever they consider to be right to them despite all the economic problems, including massive starvations. So we are dealing with a very unconventional system, unconventional political leadership. Then of course, we will be outside. The United States will not send the food aid. Then there are a lot of people in the world that may be looking at us with critical eyes, because this is humanitarian aid, and humanitarian aid by definition should not be affected that directly by the launching of a satellite, missiles, or whatever.
Now, Abe, President Obama is going to Seoul this weekend for a nuclear security summit. What do you think he will be doing there to address this larger issue?
There’s going to be many, many bilateral meetings on the side. I believe over 50 countries are going to be represented and perhaps around 40 or so heads of state. And President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea will be having many meetings with various heads of state, including President Obama, President Hu Jintao, Medvedev, and the like. And of course, a major topic of that will be the problems that we’re facing here on the Korean peninsula.
Do you expect any kind of progress on this issue to emerge from that summit?
I don’t. I think it’s going to be a lot of discussion and a lot of criticism of, perhaps, North Korea. But in terms of substantive moves or anything coming out of this, I don’t.
Professor Park, what do you think President Obama hopes to accomplish and could accomplish at the summit?
My take on this is that if we’re going to discuss anything internationally to tame North Korea, so to speak, we have to include North Korea. So it would have been very nice if North Korean head of state or representative had been there. I know he might have been invited, and somehow we should have worked it out so that North Koreans also become part of this. So alienating North Korea - we have done it for many years - will not accomplish anything in terms of denuclearization of the peninsula.
Thank you. That was Professor Han Park from the University of Georgia and Abraham Kim from the Korea Economic Institute here in Washington D.C.