In the coming weeks, North Korea will carefully watch the Park Geun-hye transition team and the new administration’s initial articulation of policies toward the North. The criteria by which the North is likely to judge whether it wants to do business with Park Geun-hye was revealed in a series of questions from a December 1st article entitled “Park Geun-hye’s Deceptive Commitments Regarding ‘Policy toward North’ Censured.”
The questions are as follows:
1. How is she going to keep promise made between the north and the south while shunning the joint declarations agreed by the top leaders of the two sides, and does she have the face to talk about "summit talks"?Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
2. How will she ensure "mutual respect" and achieve "trust" and "cooperative relations" while insisting on "unification based on liberal democratic order"?
3. Is the call for "scrapping nuclear program first" different from the watchwords of "no nukes, opening and 3,000 dollars"?
4. Does it stand to reason for her to talk about "peace" while crying out for beefing up deterrence and tightening alliance with foreign forces? Will she take the road of war in league with foreign forces or the road of lasting peace with fellow countrymen?
5. Does she think it possible to put the north-south ties on normal track while resorting to anti-DPRK smear campaign such as "north Korean human rights act"?
6. Does she think it possible to have north-south dialogue and cooperation with "May 24 measure" left intact?
7. Does she have a true intent to break with the confrontation policy of the Lee Myung Bak group and opt for improving the north-south relations with sincere mind?
It is easy to imagine the answers North Korea wants to hear from President-elect Park, but it may be hard for Park to provide positive answers to all of these questions without defying articulated principles or alienating her conservative base. Moreover, there are numerous opportunities for missteps, unintentional misunderstanding, or intentional distortions to derail the sort of atmosphere necessary to promote inter-Korean rapprochement. Yet the stabilization of inter-Korean relations is arguably in the interests of both the North and South. Whether that objective is achievable, only time will tell.
Scott A. Snyder is senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was previously a senior associate in the international relations program of The Asia Foundation and Pacific Forum CSIS. He blogs at Asia Unbound, where this piece originally appeared.