Kim Jong-un: Master of Soft Power, Diplomacy and Now Dealmaking

The provocations, insults and bad faith from the USA have turned Kim Jong-un into the good guy, even in the eyes of his former detractors.

The DPRK is undoubtedly a unique country in terms of its political system, especially when contrasted with much of the rest of the world in 2018. One of the unintended consequences of a country whose model of self-sufficiency meant that it did not want to be geopolitically pestered, was that it was continually misunderstood. In the United States in particular, the DPRK was considered one part-cartoonish and one part wicked when in reality North Korea was neither of those things, just an incredibly different society from the US.

Since his 2018 New Year’s message where the DPRK’s head of state Kim Jong-un reached out to South Korea in a gesture of fraternal good will, the world has come to see and know more of Kim than ever before. From his genuinely heartfelt first meeting with an equally amiable South Korean President Moon Jae-in, to his description by diplomats from Seoul as good humoured, intelligent and at times wittily self-deprecating, Kim turned out to be neither a monster nor a madman but an intelligent young statesman striking groundbreaking deals to make peace in Korea, all the while intensifying positive relations with the DPRK’s superpower neighbours China and Russia.

North Korea’s clear commitment to a nuclear free Korean peninsula as well as Pyongyang’s release of three US citizen prisoners of Korean origin who were recently greeted by Donald Trump upon their return to the US, is indicative of the DPRK’s good faith when it comes to future discussions with both Seoul and Washington.

By contrast, Washington’s attitude has been increasingly defined by the words of the US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley who said that even in the midst of a historic peace process that “war” is still an option should discussion break down. This was followed by grim words from John Bolton suggesting that in order for any deal to be completed, North Korea’s nuclear weapons would have to be humiliatingly shipped to the US. Bolton’s statements, which also compared the situation in the DPRK to Libya’s fateful disarmament in 2003 were not only insulting but a clear provocation as the entire world is aware that less than ten years after Libya agreed to disarm, it was brutally invaded by NATO. These words were also a challenge to China and Russia which are de-facto guarantors of a long term piece in the neighbouring Korean peninsula. Unlike Libya in 2011 which became isolated even from traditional allies, China and Russia have made it clear that the potential for a war next door is intolerable.

While Donald Trump’s personal statements regarding the Korean peace process have generally been positive, those of Haley, Bolton and to a degree those of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have either been threatening, insulting, patronising or downright provocative. As a result, Pyongyang has issued several statements (all of which are posted in full at the bottom of this piece) accusing the US of negotiating from a position of bad faith all the while continuing its provocative “Max Thunder” military drills in the South at a time when both Korean heads of state have pledged a commitment to peace. During his meeting with Moon Jae-in, Kim Jong-un specifically said that the DPRK’s missile and bomb tests will no longer keep Moon awake at night. It seems however, that the peace minded Moon is less able to resist American bullying that would otherwise be conducive to the good will that the two Korean leaders demonstrated to one another at their historic peace summit.

The arrogance of the US is such that even those who have traditionally been DPRK detractors are now siding with Kim Jong-un. The DPRK has worked to satisfy all the desires of the so-called international community including the US and all it has asked in return is for good faith and a gradually de-militarised South Korea, something that US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Donald Trump both said could be a possibility.

Either the Trump administration doesn’t have a single policy or its policy changes on a daily basis as the current attitude of Washington and of Haley and Bolton in particular is not conducive to the kind of good will that the DPRK has shown the US, particularly in the aftermath of its release of US nationals from prison.

US officials claim that they have not received any communiques from Pyongyang through private channels, in a clear attempt to brush off the serious concerns expressed by the DPRK in public statements. However, this never stopped US officials in the very recent past from taking such public statements at face value.

With Kim Jong-un’s popularity rating in South Korea at 80%, the good will of the Korean people should be obvious to see. This reality would indicate that either the current US government is too incompetent to prepare for a peace process based on good faith, trust and normal diplomatic language or else the US simply had their bluff called by Kim Jong-un and in reality the US does not want peace. If the US assumed the DPRK would never make positive steps towards de-nuclearisation as they are doing now, it would logically follow that the US would continue to make ever more unreasonable demands on the DPRK in order to sabotage an otherwise healthy peace process. This second scenario is looking more likely by the day, not least because now the US is openly indicating that so-called “human rights issues” will necessarily be part of the dialogue process even though this was never part of any initial understanding. The issue at hand is constrained to discussions on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Just as was the case in respect of the JCPOA, the US is once again moving the goalposts in order to make the situation intolerable for an otherwise cooperative dialogue partner.

In such a case, it would largely be up to China, Russia and elements of the South Korean government to salvage a peace deal in spite of the US, just as currently China, Russia, the EU, France, Germany and Britain are working to salvage the JCPOA (aka Iran nuclear deal) in the face of the open US sabotage of an agreement that the UN has declared a total success.

Whatever happens next, what is clear is that in terms of soft power, Kim Jong-un has transformed himself into the “good guy” even in the eyes of many of his former detractors. He has shown tact, good will, a sincere hope for peace in the common Korean homeland and he has not put a foot wrong when it comes to establishing an atmosphere of good will to all interested parties. By contrast, the US as represented by a scowling Bolton and hysterical Haley now looks like the insincere bully it likely always was.

Below are three seperate statements from Pyongyang regarding the government’s current stance regarding US provocations:

“KCNA Blasts U.S. and S. Korea for Staging Large-scale Military Drill against DPRK

The south Korean authorities, together with the U.S., has been staging the largest-ever “2018 Max Thunder” joint air drill throughout south Korea since May 11 in a bid to make a preemptive air strike at the DPRK and win the air.

Involved in the drill are over 100 fighters of various missions including B-52 strategic nuclear bombers and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters under the supervision of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in south Korea and the south Korean air force. It is to last till May 25.

Public opinions at home and abroad comment that the maneuver is the largest-ever and a reflection of the invariable stand of the U.S. and south Korea to persist in the “maximum pressure and sanctions” against the DPRK.

The DPRK-targeted drill across south Korea is an undisguised challenge to the Panmunjom Declaration and a deliberate military provocation to the trend of the favorably developing situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The north and the south solemnly declared in the declaration that a new peace era was ushered in and reached an agreement on making joint efforts to defuse the acute military tensions on the peninsula and substantially ease the danger of war and the U.S. also fully supported it.

However, even before the ink of the historic April 27 Declaration got dry, the south Korean authorities and the U.S. started such a drill against the DPRK, reacting to all the peace-loving efforts and good intentions which the DPRK has shown with rude and wicked provocation and arousing serious concern and disappointment among all the fellow countrymen and the international community wanting the declaration to be implemented.

If the U.S. and the south Korean authorities regard the phase of improving inter-Korean ties and the DPRK-U.S. dialogue provided by the proactive and broadminded efforts and measures of the DPRK as something allowed any time and any hour, then they are sadly mistaken.

The south Korean authorities, in particular, resorted to such improper acts quite contrary to the promise to make efforts for the peace, prosperity and reunification on the peninsula together with the north and are allowing even human scum to brazenly hurl mud at the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK and its system and play down the Panmunjom Declaration in front of the building of the “National Assembly”.

There is a limit in showing goodwill and offering opportunity.

The historic Panmunjom Declaration cannot be implemented by the unilateral efforts of a single party but can result in a good fruition only when the two parties create favorable conditions and climate by pooling their efforts.

We cannot but take a step of suspending the north-south high-level talks scheduled on May 16 under the prevailing seriously awful situation that a mad-cap north-targeted war and confrontation racket are being kicked up in south Korea.

The south Korean authorities, lost to all senses, should be held wholly accountable for the scuttled north-south high-level talks and the difficulties and obstacles in the way of the north-south relations.

The U.S. will have to think twice about the fate of the DPRK-U.S. summit now on high agenda before a provocative military racket against the DPRK in league with the south Korean authorities.

We will closely watch the ensuing behavior of the U.S. and the south Korean authorities”.

“Unpardonable Provocation against Dialogue Partner

In a statement issued on the occasion of “week for freedom” recently, the U.S. Department of State hurled mud at the DPRK, talking about “suppression”, “violence” and “human rights abuses”. And it blustered that “maximum pressure” would be maintained.

At a press conference held on the next day, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State revealed the U.S. scheme to table the “human rights issue” at the talks, saying that they “clearly referred to the human rights situation in the DPRK” in the recently-published “report on human rights practices” and that they never stepped back from the issue.

Meanwhile, the south Korean Ministry of Unification held a “consultative meeting on the policy of human rights in the north”, at which discussion was made on a proposal for “promoting the human rights in the north” and the issue of setting up a “foundation for human rights in the north”.

It is an unpardonable challenge and blatant infringement upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK.

The U.S. gets hell-bent on putting pressure on the DPRK, raising the non-existent “human rights issue” ahead of the DPRK-U.S. dialogue.

This is a senseless act of disregarding elementary etiquette towards the dialogue partner.

For the U.S. to cling to the provocative anti-DPRK “human rights” racket is little short of turning the trend of dialogue and peace back to the phase of confrontation and tension and, this may spoil the last hard-won opportunity of solving the issue”.

“KCNA Commentary on U.S. Human Rights Racket against DPRK

What merits attention is the fact that the U.S. is pulling up the DPRK over the “human rights issue”, quite contrary to the trend of the situation toward dialogue and peace.
In the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017” published in April, the U.S. viciously slandered the DPRK. And on May 3 its State Department went busy, issuing a statement on the occasion of the “free north Korea week”.

Some days ago, its vice-president blustered before media that the U.S. administration would never overlook the “worst human rights situation in north Korea”.

The Western media comment this as “something unusual”, contending that “it is used as a pressure card for denuclearization negotiations”.

The hackneyed human rights racket kicked up again by the U.S. before the DPRK-U.S. dialogue is a wanton violation of the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK, a legitimate sovereign state, and the height of arrogance against the dialogue partner.

The U.S. which took the DPRK’s will for dialogue as the result of “sanctions and pressure” has now gone ridiculous to put “pressure over human rights issue” and thus attain its sinister aim at the dialogue venue.

Human rights are not a political bargaining chip and it can not be used for realizing the hegemonic ambition, either.

The U.S. is a country deprived of any qualifications and face to talk about human rights.

So unspeakable are shuddering human rights crimes committed by the U.S. against the Korean people historically including the barbarous massacres committed by it during the last Korean War.

Even today the U.S. is going desperate to deprive the Korean people of the sovereignty and the rights to existence and development through vicious economic blockade and sanctions. It is a mockery of human rights for such a country to trumpet about “human rights performance” in the DPRK.

The U.S., troubled with all sorts of social evils including unrelenting gun-related crimes, social inequality and racial discrimination, is not entitled to raise “human rights” issue of others.

U.S.-style capitalism, a paradise only for a handful of the privileged but a hell for the absolute majority of the toiling masses, will be certainly defeated in the human rights confrontation with Korean-style socialism, a flower garden for the people full of respect and love. This is an immutable truth the proof of which is not necessary.

The U.S. should make efforts to create an atmosphere for mutual respect and confidence before dialogue, not resorting to a foolish farce that may reverse the good trend created with much effort.

It had better mediate over if it can win in the human rights confrontation with the DPRK and stop acting that may have its nose bitten off”.

Comments are closed.