Monday, April 30, 2018

Kim Jong Un's Volte-Face

"Today we saw Kim Jong Un's charm offensive in action."
"He's exerting his influence and trying to grab the spotlight with a big smile. But behind that smile, he was wearing his game face."
Duyeon Kim, visiting fellow, Korean Peninsula Future Forum, Seoul

"We will work to make sure that the agreement bears good results, by closely communicating to ensure that the failure to implement North-South agreements in the past will not be repeated."
North Korean President Kim Jong Un

"This is a great start and should be cause for cautious optimism."
"The public conversation should now shift from speculation on whether North Korea would consider denuclearization to how South Korea and the United States can advance this denuclearization pledge in concrete steps."
Patrick McEachern, fellow, Wilson Center, Washington

"Yes, there are still questions about how to guarantee North Korea's security on the path to denuclearization."
"But I'm surprised they would go this far at this early stage, that Kim Jong Un didn't save this for his meeting with Trump."
John Delury, professor of international relations, Yonsei University, Seoul
The pair met for historic face-to-face talks in Panmunjom. Picture: Korea Broadcasting System via AP
The pair met for historic face-to-face talks in Panmunjom. Picture: Korea Broadcasting System via APSource:AP

Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator who relishes roiling the international community, enjoys ordering the gruesome deaths of those he thinks conspire to unseat his rule, exults in his scientists and technology mastering the arcane art of mass destruction, enabling him to threaten his perceived enemies, is at this time in the history of the Korean Peninsula, being treated like a rock star. Breathless news reports extol his bold new moves in pacifying a region he has sent into atmospheric turmoil.

Gushing stories relating to breaking new diplomatic ground and hopes for a future free of violence and threats of doomsday scenarios all emanating from this volatile, juvenile delinquent describe him now in heroic terms, courageously seeking a new relationship with his South Korean counterparts, his generosity of spirit saving millions of lives by one fell swoop; that of forsaking his nuclear and ICBM state programs whose achievements have given him huge delight.

Is he pioneering a brave new horizon? Or have his familial predecessors been down this elusive road before? With the very same hopes and promises, linked to substantial bribes to sweeten the pot of follow-through. His statement spoke of implementing North-South agreements for pacification and normalization, but he places blame on their previous failures on the South and that the North must be vigilant to ensure no failure occurs this time around.

How hopeful does that sound for reconciliation and the capacity to resolve a problem of opposing ideologies, of brutal threats, violence and misery all emanating from the North toward a conciliatory South? The closure of the North's nuclear installations has already been mandated by nature in the collapse of the mountain whose stability has been nuclearized by the imprudent place of those facilities in an unstable region.

Kim's thirst for plaudits, his impulsive, childish nature of psychopathic bullying and his lack of any kind of empathy for the North Koreans whose lives he has impoverished, living a tormented and threatened existence of starvation and imprisonment all reflect his lack of conscience and demented, power-hungry grasp for recognition as a great and impressive ruler. His threats to the world order supported by China's need for the North to create a buffer zone, reflect his psychotic nature.

The hope that has been invested in the surface surrender by this erratic and dangerous man to the greater good of his natural beneficence winning the battle of his personality to emerge as someone with whom the free world and South Korea can depend upon to recognize his responsibility to his nation and the rest of the international community may be seen to be displaced. Yet, we can hope and many do.

The primary question is how long he will choose to mothball his ultimate aspirations? "South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and co-operation of the international community for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", read the Panmunjom Declaration.

Time will tell -- whether this is a new initiative and a turning point, or a tired replay.

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