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.
A month after the opening of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, North Korea’s intention to dismantle the UN Command (UNC) through the end-of-war-declaration is becoming increasingly apparent.
During a meeting of the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee on October 12, North Korean representative called for the dismantlement of the UN Command in Korea as soon as possible and described it as a “monster.”
Prior to this, on September 29, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, at his speech at the General Assembly, demanded the dismantlement of the UN Command, saying that “it is merely a ‘command of allied forces’ that only obeys the orders of the US” beyond the control of the UN.
This is counter to the South Korean government’s statement that Kim Jong Un confirmed that the end-of-war-declaration is unrelated to the dismantlement of the UN Command during the inter-Korean Summit in September.
Unlike the US forces in Korea or the USFK Combined Forces Command, the UN Command is a military organisation that was created by the resolution of the UN Security Council.
As a party to the Korean War Armistice Agreement, the UNC has been carrying out the international mission of preventing war and keeping peace on the Korean Peninsula for decades.
Though North Korea talks of the implementation of the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration and keeps pushing for a peace zone in the DMZ, at the end of the day it is just trying to eliminate the prestigious presence of the UNC.
North Korea is going to insist that the adoption of the end-of-war declaration will end the Korean War and that the security structure of the South and the North should return to the state before the Korean War and that the United Nations Command and the ROK-US alliance should cease to exist.
On top of this, there are some in South Korea who claim that the UN Command is trying to reverse the peace process between North and South Korea whenever North and South want to carry out peace process like the removal of landmines or roads and railways joint study.
Six months have passed since the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration.
But there has been no substantial progress in the denuclearization of North Korea and North and South Korea have not even agreed on the definition of “denuclearization.”
The reason of no progress in denuclearization is because Kim Jong Un is dreaming of creating a wedge between the US and South Korea, lifting sanctions and proceeding with economic developments while having nuclear weapons at the same time.
The current denuclearization negotiations looks like South Korea’s denuclearization train dragging along North Korea’s nuclear state wagon.
We must make it clear that Kim Jong Un can not have economic development and nuclear weapons simultaneously and that South Korea’s denuclearization train will not tow North Korea’s nuclear state wagon.
In this case, the reporting of North Korea’s inventory of nuclear facilities must not be postponed any longer.
The strategic mistake of partially lifting sanctions while North Korea is still in possession of nuclear weapons should not be made.