NCNK Member Digest, June 2019

June 25, 2019

The National Committee on North Korea is a non-governmental organization of persons with significant expertise in and diverse perspectives on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Here is a selection of some work authored by NCNK members during June 2019: 

On the Anniversary of the June 2018 Singapore Summit 

Suzanne DiMaggio writes that "leader-to-leader engagement was a bold movement" to transform the US-DPRK relationship, but the lack of regular working-level talks proved the limits of personal diplomacy. Moving forward she proposes a two-step process of reaching an agreement on end goals and developing a phased road map towards that end. (June 13, 2019) Read the Full Article 

Leon Sigal analyzes Kim Jong Un's April 12 address to the Supreme People's Assmebly, and suggests in order to get back to talks, both parties need to recognize the overreach in Hanoi and return to the principles of the Singapore Summit. (June 13, 2019) Read the Full Article 

Writing for Kyodo News' Opinion section, Frank Jannuzi reflects on why the Singapore Summit has produced only a "meager harvest," arguging that the breakdown of the Summit can be attributed to three miscalculations related to the coercive power of sanctions, allure of foreign direct investment, and the US domestic political situation. In conclusion, Jannuzi argues that, "Another substance-free summit is not in the interests of Washington or its allies, and would only further bolster Kim's legitimacy on the global stage." (June 10, 2019) Read the Full Article

Deal or No Deal?

In an article for The Atlantic, Duyeon Kim argues, "Trump and Kim have, for better or worse, embarked on relationship summitry. This means their interactions or negotiations cannot simply be transactional—the process entails the good, the bad, and the ugly of any relationship." And as with any relationship, she suggests, the extra effort to address bad feelings will go a long way. (June 24, 2019) Read the Full Article

In a Q&A format article, Jean Lee addresses multiple questions for the World Economic Forum related the possibility of the United States and North Korea to strike a nuclear deal and on the relevance of the Xi Jinping visit to North Korea. (June 24, 2019) Read the Full Article

Northeast Asia 

Jim Schoff recently published a report coauthored with Taisuke Mibae for the Atlantic Council that looks at how the US-North Korea and inter-Korea negotiations over denuclearization and building a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula might impact the future posture of US forces in Northeast Asia. (June 25, 2019) Read the Full Report

In an opinion article for The New York Times, John Delury argues that the recent and notable first visit by Xi Jinping to North Korea was not to broker a deal with Kim Jong Un or gain bargaining power in the US-China trade dispute, but rather to lure North Korea back into China's fold. Delury argues pundits are mistaking Xi's weakness for strength and that in actuality, China is losing its grip over North Korea. (June 23, 2019) Read the Full Article

Opportunities for Engagement

Writing for 38 North, Kee Park provides a preview of a forthcoming report co-authored with Ramon Pacheco Pardo on "Injuries in North Korea: Addressing a Looming Crisis." The report analyzes North Korea's current and expected injury burden and proposes a road map by which the international community and North Korea could scale up its injury care capacity. Ultimately they argue, "Multilateral cooperation on health could contribute to regional stability, build confidence and facilitate the integration of North Korea into the international community."  (June 19, 2019) - Read the Full Article

Reading the Tea Leaves

Long time North Korea analyst Robert Carlin provides insightful commentary on North Korean signals in two articles for 38 North. In a June 10 article, Carlin parses North Korean editorials and finds that there are complicated internal discussions and debate. He notes a particular shift in May commentary that seems to suggest post-Hanoi policy reevaluation has ended and new phase of discussion is developing. In June 20 article, Carlin continues to follow the debate and suggests that things are "heated up" between "orthodox forces" who want to go on the offensive and "loyalist forces" who favor reform and diplomacy.