Kim Jong-un Has No 'Good Intentions'

  • By Chosun Ilbo Columnist Lee Ha-won

    May 26, 2017 13:02

    Lee Ha-won

    The comments that stirred up the biggest controversy during the last presidential election campaign were made by South Chungcheong Province Governor An Hee-jung, who said former presidents Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye pursued their policies with "good intentions." Frontrunner Moon Jae-in's camp relentlessly attacked Ahn for the comment, and Moon criticized Ahn for "lacking anger" at Park, who went down in a massive corruption and influence-peddling scandal. The remark played a decisive role in causing voter support for Ahn to wane.

    But now Moon's administration seems to believe that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un harbors "good intentions," unlike the former presidents. Moon accuses his predecessors of being brazen thieves but leaves open the possibility of a summit with the North Korean leader, vowing during his campaign to travel to Pyongyang even before a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

    A few days ago, Moon's top official in charge of unification and national security mentioned the prospect of ending sanctions against the North imposed after it torpedoed the Navy corvette Cheonan in 2010 and even reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex and resuming tours to North Korea's scenic Mt. Kumgang resort. The Unification Ministry did not miss a beat and rushed to look into measures to resume civilian exchanges.

    But North Korea has still not apologized for shooting dead a South Korean tourist in Mt. Kumgang, sinking the Cheonan, attacking Yeonpyeong Island with artillery, or a box mine attack in the demilitarized zone in 2015. Meanwhile it conducted two more nuclear tests and countless missile launches.

    The Moon administration's return to the abortive "sunshine policy" of rapprochement with North Korea must of course base itself on the assumption that Kim has good intentions, but where is the evidence? This is a man who used a chemical weapon in a crowded foreign airport to murder his own half-brother and had his own uncle executed by firing squad.

    But the greatest danger is that Moon's crowd-pleasing will fatally undermine the efforts of the international community. UN Resolution 2321, which was adopted in November last year, aims to limit the number of bank accounts held by diplomatic missions as well as North Korean diplomats within their respective territories. One clause in that resolution points out that North Korea may use "bulk cash" to evade UN and international sanctions.

    China and Russia backed the resolution even though they oppose the deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery from the U.S. in South Korea, and neither believe the North Korean leader has any good intentions. In fact, a 20-page document included in the resolution warns not to trust Kim and to avoid any activities that could result in financial gain for the North because the money could be used to finance its nuclear weapons and missiles.

    What would happen if Seoul unilaterally scraps sanctions against Pyongyang and ends up shoveling cash to the North? It would mean ridicule from the international community and the very real danger of violating UN regulations. The Moon administration must first of all come up with a North Korea policy framework that the majority of South Koreans can understand. Let Kim show how good his intentions are. Anything else would be reckless endangerment of the nation and the world.

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