Expert on North Korean-U.S. relations speaks on campus


On Wednesday, Nov. 14, Hyun-Wook Kim, a professor from the Korea National Diplomatic Academy delivered the Barstow Lecture in Founders Hall, focused on North Korean-U.S. relations and current events involving the Koreas.

Kim discussed the events leading up to North Korea and the United States’ relationship with each other and gave his opinion on where he felt the relationship between North Korea, the U.S. and the rest of the world is going.

He showed slides with maps on them to explain the weapons that North Korea was developing and testing. Kim went on to argue that while North Korea had closed their test sites, they haven’t gotten rid of their nuclear missiles and other material.

North Korea, according to Kim, wants the United States to do something for them in exchange for disarmament. The United States must build trust with North Korea for them to continue to disarm themselves, Kim said.

During an interview with the South Korean state-sponsored news network Arirang on Feb. 14, Kim said that the U.S. was willing to take steps to develop discussions with North Korea.

“The U.S. wants to have a dialogue with North Korea, to stop North Korean development of nuclear weapons,” he said during the interview. “So, I think these positions of the U.S. now are giving more and more opportunities for future North Korea and U.S. dialogue.”

During the Barstow lecture, he also presented ideas about South Korea and North Korea’s relationships. Progressives in South Korea want peace between the countries, which would mean a compromise in systems, whereas conservatives feel threatened by North Korea, Kim said.

In the Feb. 14 Arirang interview, Kim stat- ed that North Korea used hosting the Olympics as a means to talk with South Korea about de-nuclearization.

“I think the U.S. is kind of (lending) an initiative to South Korea,” he said. “South Korea has leveraged a possible summit hearing with North Korea through hosting the Olympics, which I think is an important pathway for de-nuclearization. But, of course, how we can make it happen all depends upon how South Korea mediates between North Korea and the United States.”

In the same interview, he said that the U.S. hopes to continue using South Korea as a mediator as the three countries further discuss de-nuclearization.

“I think from the U.S. perspective, (having South Korea mediate between North Korea and the U.S.) is worth trying and then see what happens,” he said. “Of course, if that is not successful, the U.S. will go back to its hardline policy. But I think the U.S. position is now, ‘See what happens, see what the South Korean government can do, see what the position of North Korea is about.’ If North Korea is really serious about de-nuclearization, the U.S. will just go in and talk to North Korea.”

During the Barstow lecture, Kim said that economy and democracy are the priority for South Korea. North Korea has markets still despite not being capitalist and being under heavy international sanctions.

Kim also discussed how North Korea be- came willing to have discussions with the United States about weapons and trade.

He argued that fear of attack brought the North Korean government to the negotiating table.

According to Kim, regarding a discussion he had with a North Korean diplomat, the citizens of North Korea are worried about the country’s future. They at one time were more loyal to the regime, but they have an underground market system and are unhappy with the sanctions imposed on the country by the U.S., Kim said.

Kim touched brie y on how things in North Korea are changing. Television and broadcasting are becoming more like western television, and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un is beginning to travel further and communicate more outside of the country.

After his talk, Professor Kim answered questions from the audience about how North Korea and South Korea could find peace without outside powers.