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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

To war: why the Korean Peninsula tensions

The DPRK authorities are ready at any time to test Intercontinental ballistic missiles. This was announced by the North Korean newspaper “Rodong Sinmun” – the Central organ of the workers ‘ party of Korea (WPK). In recent months, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, where the past was restless, only increases. The concern is not only the successful tests of ballistic missiles and air defense system (PVO) conducted by Pyongyang, but the response of the United States, sent recently to the banks Peninsula for the third carrier.

However, there are glimmers of hope in calming the situation persist. They appeared after the early elections in South Korea, where he defeated moon Jae-In. It is known as the sharp statements to the USA and plans to improve relations with the North. How is that possible? What awaits the Korean Peninsula with the arrival of new leaders in the United States and South Korea? On this and many other “MK” spoke authoritative careened Andrei LANKOV, living in Seoul.

photo: youtube.com

– With his victory in the presidential elections in the Republic of Korea moon Jae-In, a linked optimistic expectations. This applies to the plans for rapprochement with North Korea, and some of the statements of the new President regarding the rejection of them in American politics. Whether such expectations?

– Absolutely unjustified. Actually this is a big problem for the new South Korean leader. Unfortunately, it is now really pinned great hopes, which neither he and no one else to justify simply not.

Moon Jae-In is partly responsible for such high expectations, because during the election campaign, he handed out often impracticable – or mutually exclusive – promises. In General, like most politicians in democratic countries, he campaigned under the slogan “I will be very, very good.” On the one hand, he promised to “revive” the economy, increase economic growth, on the other – promised strengthening the social sphere, which implies a rise in taxes (and that economic growth is usually incompatible). He also said it is ready to make some real diplomatic miracles, agreeing simultaneously with China, the U.S. and North Korea, which, we understand, is hardly possible in principle – with more luck, the South Korean President will be able to reach some agreements, a maximum of two of the above parties. Such promises are quite understandable as part of a normal democratic countries electoral politics, but the situation is complicated by the fact that, according to the communication with the South Koreans, many of them took campaign rhetoric moon Jae-Ins too seriously.

In this regard, it is possible that in the end it will suffer the fate of the overthrown President Park Geun-Hye or his own idol and perennial patron Roh Moo-Hyun, the President of the country in 2002-2007, on the closeness to which the new President, in fact, has spent his entire political career. As we know, Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide when it became obvious his involvement in a major corruption scheme, and before that a long time was the President with the lowest in the history of the country rating (however, this record was recently beat Park Geun-Hye). In General, moon Jae-In is a completely ordinary politician who in the political conditions prevailing in South Korea, was indeed the best candidate for the presidency, but he’s not a miracle worker – and now, many are waiting for miracles.

– In your opinion, the North Korean authorities have listened to moon Jae announced Other plans for some networking with neighbors?

– Of course, in Pyongyang praised conditionally “anti-American” statements by moon Jae-In. Moreover, North Korea counted on the victory moon Jae-In, because his name is associated with great hopes for the resumption of the so-called “inter-Korean cooperation.” Reason I said “so called”, because in fact the economic contacts of the North and South in any cooperation are not. It is, in fact, is a slightly disguised as trade or economic cooperation economic assistance to the South to the North, and in quite large sums.

It is clear that the DPRK leadership, as any normal user in any country – North Korea the authorities are people of completely sane, contrary to popular belief, wants to benefit from relations with neighbors. However, this does not mean that the policy, which wants to hold the moon is not in the interests of South Korea: resumption of indirect assistance to Pyongyang is a necessary precondition for a normalization of relations between two Korean States, and this normalization will win and Seoul, Pyongyang.

Hope that Pyongyang lay on moon Jae-In, is also connected with a possible deterioration of relations between Seoul and Washington. This prospect causes positive emotions among the North Korean leadership that is easily explained: when two of your main opponent start to interfere with each other, it makes it impossible to achieve their goals.

– Whether the South Korean leader to translate his ideas to reduce tensions in relations with North Korea?

– I hope that something mun Jae Inu will be able to achieve, and if that happens, it will be good. However, obstacles to moon Jae-Ins – more than serious. He hoped that the restoration of the abovementioned cooperation with the North will reduce the degree of tension in inter-Korean relations. Most likely, he’s right, but the problem here is that many of the forms of interaction between South Korea and North Korea – especially in the Kaesong industrial zone – at the moment is directly forbidden by the sanctions adopted by the UN Security Council in recent years.

Is it possible to circumvent the UN restrictions – the issue is very complex. President moon may try to do this but any steps in this direction will mean a violation of South Korea of the sanctions regime imposed by the UN security Council. Personally, I do not see a special trouble that some of these sanctions had been violated, but for Seoul, the situation is complicated by the strong dependence on the global economic and legal order.

– It’s no secret that South Korea heavily depends on U.S. in Pyongyang at every opportunity, called South Korean leaders as “American puppets”. While the President trump the demonstration of a fairly tough rhetoric and action against the DPRK. How will this affect relations between Seoul and Washington?

Moon Jae-In said that he intends to come to an agreement with the President of the United States Donald trump – he even promised that all of the worlds to negotiate. But, as we understand it, agree with trump is on the verge, and even beyond the possible, especially considering the position of the new American leader regarding North Korea. The fact that the new US administration has relied on the provision of maximum unprecedentedly tough sanctions on the DPRK. In these conditions the actions of moon Jae-Ina – if he will develop any economic contacts with Pyongyang, giving him some form of help, cause, of course, anger in the White house.

In addition, we must remember that new presidents and South Korea, and the United States during their election campaigns rather unflattering comments about the current state of U.S.-South Korean relations, assuring voters that the current model of these relations is not beneficial for their country. Trump appealed to the fact that South Korea pays little for their defense, shifting military spending is on the shoulders of the United States, and uses the money saved to produce goods, then displacing markets for American products. Moon Jae-In, in turn, accused the US of hegemony, arrogance, imposing their position, etc., and assured that he, say, able to tell Washington “no”. In such a situation, with such sentiments – and the new presidents, and, so to say, “support groups” – a serious disagreement between the US and South Korea is inevitable.

However, I don’t think you can talk about the prospect of breaking the military Alliance between Washington and Seoul, or the withdrawal of us troops from the Peninsula. Like it or not, but now this Union by a majority of South Koreans perceived positively, as a guarantee of security, and political figure who directly put it into question, is likely to face serious discontent of the voters. However, it seems almost inevitable that when moon and trump will be a deterioration of relations. The causes of this decline, by the way, may not be relevant to those topics, which are widely spoken in Russia – for example, to be deployed in South Korea American system of antimissile defence (ABM) of concern to Moscow and Beijing. The fact that Koreans often important such questions about which in Russia is not too think.

– What is the main stumbling block in U.S.-South Korean relations?

Beyond the issue of how to approach the problem of North Korea is, of course, the status of the free trade Agreement between the United States and South Korea. And during the campaign and after his election, President trump has repeatedly stated that this Treaty is unfavorable to America. A significant part of the supporters of moon Jae-Ins – though not he himself, in his turn, confident that the Contract is disadvantageous to their country. Objectively speaking, the position of the trump in this case is closer to the truth, although the question is controversial, which is very much a political component. In any case, that debate on this issue, obviously, will largely determine relations between South Korea and the United States.

It is important to remember that when in Russia or in the world talking about the problems of the Korean Peninsula, everything revolves mainly around the nuclear programs of North Korea and other issues of military policy. However, paradoxical as it may sound for most Russians, the South Koreans perceive these issues are not even as secondary, as, for example, tertiary. With some exaggeration we can say that the interest in North Korean Affairs the average South Korean is about the same as in the average Russian – in the political processes in Central Asia. The main thing that really interested authorities and inhabitants of South Korea – external factors. And in that regard, for all sorts of little known controversy surrounding, say, free trade with the United States may have more painful consequences than, for example, talk about the us missile defense (although, of course, the problem of missile defence is likely to be perceived quite painful).

– What is your overall forecast for the Korean Peninsula in this situation?

– Of course, the us-South Korean relationship will be when moon Jae-ins, and the trump in a state of crisis. It is not clear whether moon implement the common steps that he outlined to smooth acute angles in relations with North Korea. There is a risk that moon Jae In at the same time will spoil the relations with USA and with China without progress on the North Korean issue. But if it happens, it will largely not his fault, and the result of the objective circumstances. The fact that South Korea is now in a very unusual situation for the country. Traditionally, the South Korean authorities proceeded from the fact that the Americans are not going anywhere, and the Chinese will be interested in, primarily issues of Economics, trade, investment, and giving the Seoul seriously on political issues. Now we see that Beijing is willing to go to economic sacrifices in order to “squeeze out” from Seoul to the specific political and military concessions. We also see how the American manual emphasizes that the state of relations with South Korea does not suit the country itself as a partner of US is not so necessary. It is clear that in such a situation not only moon Jae-In, but any other leader would have been in a difficult position. In General, in front of the stormy and difficult times, and should not expect miracles.

Sanctions . Chronicle of events

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