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North wants status of a normal state: Moon adviser

June 29,2018
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Moon Chung-in, a special adviser to the South Korean president, speaks at the Jeju Forum on Wednesday. [KIM KYOUNG-ROK]
North Korea wants the United States to acknowledge its system of one-man rule, the South Korean president’s special adviser on unification and national security affairs said at the Jeju Forum on Wednesday.

“North Korea does not want the United States to assure the survival of Chairman Kim Jong-un and his regime,” Moon Chung-in said at a special session. “No, what North Korea has been arguing is that, in accordance with the international norm of non-political interference, North Korea does not want the United States interfering in its domestic politics and undermining its suryong system and socialist economy.”

Suryong is a North Korean title enshrined in the country’s constitution that refers to the state founder, Kim Il Sung, and the current leader’s father, Kim Jong-il. It also refers broadly to the country’s system of one-man rule.

Moon defined North Korea’s demand for security guarantees in three dimensions: political, military and economic. Its desire for the United States to acknowledge its system of leadership constitutes the political aspect, he said, adding that North Korea expects recognition of its status to eventually lead to normal diplomatic relations with the United States.

Regarding military assurances from the United States, “North Korea has said clearly they do not want deployment of strategic assets along the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said. “Meaning what? B-52 or B-1B type of strategic bombers with nuclear weapons capability,” two types of planes that the North characterized as threatening.

Two other facets of military assurances include a desire for the United States to declare that “they will not undertake any conventional or nuclear threats” toward the North and a non-aggression treaty between the two countries.

In terms of economic assurances, Moon said, “The way I read North Korea’s intention is that they want international recognition of North Korea as a sovereign state and North Korea’s entitlement to join the International Monetary Fund, World Bank or Asian Development Bank. Once North Korea is being treated normally in the international economic system, the North Korean elite thinks there will be inflow and investment from outside.

“Of course, beneath all this,” he added, is a desire for “relaxation and eventual removal of economic sanctions against North Korea.”

In sum, Moon interpreted North Korea’s want for security assurances as not being outside the realm of normalcy for a country. It indicates a core craving to be acknowledged as any other sovereign state. “Of course,” he concluded, “all these political, military and economic assurances can be done when North Korea denuclearizes.”

Moon’s analysis constitutes one of the most specific breakdowns of North Korea’s wishes to date from an influential policy adviser in the current South Korean administration.

An emeritus professor of political science at Yonsei University, Moon has served as an adviser to liberal presidents, including Kim Dae-jung, Roh Moo-hyun and now Moon Jae-in. He has been a longtime proponent of engagement with North Korea.

At the forum session, he lauded the recent summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as mutually beneficial for both countries.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]