Editor’s Note: Thae Yong Ho was serving as North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom when he chose to defect with his family to South Korea in 2016. Following the recent release of his book, “Cypher of the Third-Floor Secretariat,” and his departure from the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), he has committed himself to improving the outlook for those still living in the DPRK. His current efforts focus on information sharing and the power of education to effect change.
As one of the highest-ranking diplomats to ever defect, Thae has teamed up with Daily NK and its broader media consortium, Unification Media Group, for a weekly series to share his unparalleled insight into the North Korean system, ethos, and strategic thinking, while unpacking his vision for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
November is beginning with many existing problems which were not settled in October following the Pyongyang Joint Declaration in September and the agreement between Kim Jong Un and US Secretary of State Pompeo on October 7.
The joint inspection of the Gyeongui railway line, talks for healthcare and sports events, a performance in Seoul by a North Korean troupe had all planned to be negotiated in October.
However, there has been no progress.
The reason that North Korea has slowed down its responses to important issues is because Kim Jong Un might have not delegated his approval on the pending issues.
It should also not be missed that this is North Korea’s tactic of buying time.
There are some who claim that it may be burdensome for North Korea to pursue inter-Korean relations simultaneously with the preparation for the US-North Korea summit talks.
But, North Korea can by all means speed up the process if these issues suit to its interests.
It is possible that North Korea will continue to postpone responses to important issues, saying that it has not received the approvals from the top leadership.
Recently, as the momentum of the denuclearization of North Korea has declined, more and more people are worried that the complete denuclearization of North Korea is going to be in vain.
In reality, it was only an optical illusion that the process of North Korea’s denuclearization seemed to be going forward with the Panmunjom Declaration on April 27, the Singapore Agreement on June 12, and the September Pyongyang Declaration.
As a matter of fact, the position of North Korea has not fundamentally changed.
North Korea has not even started to dismantle its nuclear weapons nor has it provided a nuclear list.
The international community has not been able to grasp the overall outline for the denuclearization of North Korea.
Aside from the difference that it was a “top-down approach” between the leaders, this year’s negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear weapons have failed to even reach the level of the agreements made at the September 19 Joint Statement during the Six-Party Talks in 2005.
Chronic diseases can become more difficult to treat if they are resistant to conventional treatments.
If North Korean nuclear disease misses the appropriate window of opportunity and method of treatment, it will gradually become resistant and the treatment will be impossible.
It may seem that Kim Jong Un is solving something in his talks with President Moon and President Trump, but the process of North Korea’s denuclearization is entering an elongated war.
This is exactly the tactic to “create immunity” that North Korea has used in the past to buy time.
Since the North Korea nuclear virus still remains, we should not weaken our military deterrent or slow down North Korea denuclearization space or timetable just because North Korea has temporarily stopped its nuclear and missile provocations.
It is premature to carry out measures to accelerate the inter-Korean economic cooperation or weaken the ROK military’s ability to collect information on North Korea and its precision strike capability when North Korea has not even taken its initial step for denuclearization.
All responses must be thoroughly linked to the pace of North Korea’s denuclearization.
In particular, the most important issue at the moment is to deal appropriately with the North Korea’s tactic of trying to tire us out through the long-drawn out negotiations.