Shimojo Masao (3): North Korea’s insistence on bilateral talks
Posted by ampontan on Saturday, October 17, 2009
HERE’S the third in a series:
Why Does North Korea Insist on Achieving Bilateral Talks with the U.S.?
One North Korean objective for its insistence on bilateral talks with the United States is to maintain the current order. It is a historical fact that the state established on the Korean Peninsula considered relations with the great powers to be of utmost importance. An ironic result of its approach was that the life span of that state was longer than those of the Chinese dynasties, which boasted immense authority as a suzerain. Both the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties lasted roughly 500 years each, but that same period in China saw the rise and fall of the Five Dynasties/Ten Kingdoms, as well as the Song, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
The state on the Korean Peninsula was incorporated into the Chinese tributary system as a vassal. Therefore, it was difficult for a change in dynasties to occur on the Korean Peninsula if local unrest did not occur simultaneously with the waning of a Chinese dynasty. Those on the peninsula had to resign themselves to accepting military sanctions when the Chinese suzerain was at full strength.
If the North Korean regime were able to engage in direct negotiations with the United States, the world’s superpower, and obtain an ironclad promise that the current order would be maintained, it would legitimize their continued existence, both domestically and overseas. That would enable them to hold at bay the United States, China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan in the Six-Party Talks, and seize the initiative in those talks. Obtaining that diplomatic card is the North Korean expectation for bilateral talks with the United States.
Historically, this type of diplomacy is based on playing up to the powerful, in the sense of using a great power to maintain one’s own position.
- Shimojo Masao