Defector experts have spent much of today considering the reasons behind the choice of Bill Clinton to go to Pyongyang, and most of them have concluded that North Korea is likely to have consistently demanded that the U.S. send a high official, and the U.S. simply accepted it.
In any case, what is the reason why North Korea invited a former U.S. president to Pyongyang?
A representative of the defector organization North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS), Kim Heung Kwang said, “It is merely two parties haggling over hostages, led by North Korea, with the two journalists the issue which North Korea hopes will lead the U.S. into bilateral talks. North Korea is trying to get the same effect it got from Jimmy Carter’s visit to Pyongyang during the first nuclear crisis, this time through Bill Clinton.”
Furthermore, he said, “In the past, when North Korea has faced its most serious confrontations, it has created the necessary circumstances to overcome them by inviting a high U.S. official to Pyongyang for some reason. This time, North Korea is trying to break through the latest tensions and international sanctions, and release the pressure on its regime’s power both domestically and internationally.”
Hong Soon Kyung, the president of the Association of North Korean Defectors, said, “North Korea is facing serious difficulties, so it is trying to make a breakthrough via bilateral talks with the U.S. The issue of the two journalists is the stake to get through this current situation.
He said, “There is the possibility that the U.S. could be dragged around by North Korea through bilateral talks. It is not a desirable situation, because it would be the result of Kim Jong Il’s brinkmanship.”
He asserted, “The North Korea problem should not be solved by bilateral talks, but by the Six-Party Talks.”
“North Korea is accustomed to signing agreements and then ignoring them repeatedly. The U.S. should not be caught out by North Korea,” Hong repeated.
Meanwhile, Jung Cheol Hyun, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Strategy, claimed in a conversation with Daily NK, “North Korea would not have asked to receive a high level figure simply over the issue of two journalists. As usual, the “main” problem is merely bait for bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea.”
He went on, “North Korea wants to use this opportunity as the basis for relieving international pressures such as the economic sanctions placed on it.” Furthermore, “though one should wait for the results of the negotiations, the U.S. should be wary of repeating past mistakes this time round.”