New book provides suggestions to incoming Yoon administration about its N. Korea policy

The author, a former senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy, points out that the reason the last four years of denuclearization efforts have failed is because South Korean leaders have largely failed to understand Kim Jong Un’s duplicitious tactics

North Korea’s “nuclear clock” has been set back to 2017. North Korean authorities crossed the “red line” by launching a new intercontinental ballistic missile, claimed by North Korea to be the “Hwasong-17,” on Mar. 24. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been praising the hard work of the engineers and scientists in the country’s defense industry who contributed to the ICBM launch.

Kim recently remarked, as quoted by KCNA on Mar. 28, that, “We will continue to reach our national defense construction goals, and develop more powerful means of attack to better equip our military.”

This was essentially a declaration that North Korea would not only accelerate its development of nuclear weapons down the line, but also move forward with their deployment into the field as quickly as possible.

The CEO of One Korea, Kwak Gil-sub, who is also a former senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy’s Center for Research on the North Korean Regime, recently emphasized in his new book, “Beyond North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons and Division” (published by Book Wrap Publications on Mar. 31), that “Now we must deal with a Kim Jong Un who has begun to deploy nuclear weapons and missiles, rather than with a North Korea which had just been developing nuclear weapons.”

In other words, since North Korea is already a nuclear power, South Korea will need to establish a stronger national security stance in preparation for a nuclear war, place more importance on US-ROK cooperation, and strengthen its strategic diplomacy with countries such as the US, China, and Japan.

In the book, Gwak argues that South Korea should “concentrate on showing Kim Jong Un that having nuclear weapons comes at a loss. [This process] will not only be slow at first, but could also provoke strong opposition from Kim. However, only by riding out the current storm in our entire nation can we open the pathway to liberal democratic unification and peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

In fact, the current situation on the Korean Peninsula in 2022 seems almost a deja vu of 2017, when the now outgoing South Korean president, Moon Jae In, began his presidential term.

Gwak points out in the book that the reason the last four years of denuclearization efforts have failed is because South Korean leaders have been unable to properly comprehend Kim Jong Un’s duplicitious tactics during the so-called “Spring of Peace” in 2018. South Korean leaders remain unable to pull themselves away from the delusions they have of that time and have simply focused on “recreating 2018.” 

Gwak’s book covers the entirety of North Korean affairs, including a desirable course forward for South Korea’s North Korea-related policies, the realities of Kim Jong Un and North Korean society, and North Korea’s strategies and tactics toward South Korea, including the nuclear issue. 

Not only does the book lucidly analyze the aims and intentions of the Kim Jong Un regime, but it also includes important suggestions on North Korea policy for the incoming Yoon administration. As such, the book is useful for North Korea-related policy makers, researchers, and students who want to better understand what direction South Korean policy toward North Korea should go.

Translated by Jason Mallet

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Seulkee Jang is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.