News / Asia

Seoul Takes Cautious Approach with North Korea

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sunghwan (L) meets North Korean counterpart Park Uichoon at ARF July 23, 2011
South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sunghwan (L) meets North Korean counterpart Park Uichoon at ARF July 23, 2011

International diplomacy appears to be paving the way for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table. In Seoul, officials are taking a cautious approach following discussions with the North Koreans last Friday at a regional forum in Indonesia.

First inter-Korean meeting in 31 months

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan is dampening optimism about any significant breakthrough that may follow the first non-secret inter-Korean meeting at the government level in 31 months.

Speaking Monday on a radio program (on YTN News FM) in Seoul, Kim says the North-South diplomatic encounter on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum in Indonesia should not raise expectations of immediate progress in relations.

He says the Bali talks last Friday do, however, play a “catalytic” role for inter-Korean relations.

Immediately after that surprise meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, has been invited to New York.

Aiming towards six-party talks

Kim Yong-hyun, a specialist in North Korean affairs at Dongguk University in Seoul, says the diplomacy in Bali appears to be setting the stage for a resumption of nuclear disarmament talks that collapsed in 2008.

Kim says the discussions in Bali were a step toward getting the six-party talks back on track. Another analyst, however, sees this as a reverse step. Balbina Hwang is a regional security specialist who is a visiting professor at both Georgetown University and the National Defense University in Washington.

“Clearly they are falling back on the previous model that was set up and never completed. I don't see any reason why they have to fall back to that model," Hwang stated. "But I think it goes to show that there is a sort of a lack of creativity, but beyond that, a lack of really initiative or any kind of leadership in either Seoul or Washington to make any real breakthrough with North Korea.”

Besides the two Koreas and the United States, the six-party talks also included China, Russia and Japan.

Apology as a pre-requisite

Since the collapse of the last round, North Korea conducted a second nuclear weapons test and unveiled what it said was a uranium enrichment facility that could give it another method to produce atomic bombs.

Hwang says even if there is a resumption of the six-way negotiations, there is little likelihood they will result in anything significant.

“Everybody is treating this as if 'wow, we have a major breakthrough if everybody can get together and the six-party talks resume.' There's absolutely no indication that Pyongyang is willing to give up anything. There's also no indication to me that Washington and Seoul are willing to relent on any of their firm positions either. If talks restart they restart. But to me that's not particularly important," Hwang said.

In a Monday editorial, South Korea’s Joong Ang Daily newspaper argued that despite the failure of the previous talks, there is no other international forum that could “peacefully convince North Korea to dismantle its weapons programs.”

Since the six-way talks broke down, tension between the two Koreas has increased. Seoul and others blame Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in 2010. North Korea also launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island in the same waters last year.

Seoul has repeatedly stated that an apology for the provocations is a pre-requisite to any improvement in cross-border ties.

South Korea’s foreign minister said Monday the government remains firm that North Korea must take what he called responsible steps in the wake of the actions last year, which resulted in the deaths of 50 South Koreans. But officials say the lack of an apology from the North -- which they concede is unlikely to be forthcoming -- is not going to block the South's consent to revived international diplomacy with so much at stake.

The two Koreas technically remain in a state of war since their devastating three year civil conflict of the early 1950’s ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

These Women Helped Save the World

Women who were known as “Rosie the Riveters” during World War II are honored by the Netherlands More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs