[3min.talk] "China, Marginalized in Nuclear Arms Issue.. Critical Point of U.S.-N.Korea Conflict is Quickly Approaching"

By AsiaToday reporter Kim Yoo-jin & PD Kim Yoo-min - Today, Emanuel Pastreich, a professor at Kyung Hee University, interviewed with Dr. Jin Kai, a research fellow and lecturer at the Center for International Studies at Yonsei University, on different perspectives of the North Korea issue among major powers and long-term resolution.

[Emanuel Pastreich speaks with Dr. Jin Kai about North Korea]

Q1. What's the starting point and resolution for conflict with N.Korea?

Emanuel Pastreich: I have with me today Dr. Jin Kai, a research fellow at the Institute for Sinology at Yonsei University and an associate of the Asia Institute. Welcome, Dr. Kai. So I'd like to ask you first, why is this confrontation with North Korea, this leftover from the Cold War, still with us today?

Jin Kai: It's a game and test of will now. We have seen substantial nuclear threats from North Korea and the so-called "invasion from the US and South Korea." So this is a game of will between the parties.

Emanuel Pastreich: So what would be ideal long-term conditions for conflict resolutions?

Jin Kai: There can hardly be any true resolutions that solve this problem easily. Simply put, there has to be compromise and reconciliation among major powers. That reconciliation is not only between North Korea and the US, but also between other major powers.

One point is to avoid making any other extra requests within these so-called Six Party Talks. The Japanese, the Russians, the U.S. and South Korea, and the Chinese all have different reasons for joining. But they need to make it clear that they all want denuclearization. The critical point is approaching quickly. We have to do something right now.

Emanuel Pastreich: When you say "the critical point," do you mean a serious conflict between the US and North Korea?

Jin Kai: Yes.

Q2. How about China-N.Korea relations? How should the U.S. respond to N.Korea?

Emanuel Pastreich: I also think it's a serious concern. On the Chinese side, how do the Chinese perceive North Korea?

Jin Kai: My view may not be representative of mainstream views in China, but I do believe that what will happen depends on how people evaluate the influence China has over North Korea. We had a very great influence in the past, but now, we don't have such great influence any more, no.

So don't blame China for everything. China has actually been marginalized in the nuclear arms issue debate. The evolution of the situation does not seem to be closely related to China's behavior. It's between the North Korea and the US.

Emanuel Pastreich: What about the American side? You've had the chance to analyze the media and to talk to American experts. How do you think Americans perceive the North Korea issue?

Jin Kai: There are two American professors who made comments about North Korea's rationality who were correct. Basically the US has a very realistic view of North Korea. They are right to be concerned about the nuclear program, but they keep talking about "the evil regime," or so it seems to me. I don't think that such names are a productive way to deal with North Korea. To get change, you need engagement--which you had during the Bush administration, a totally different approach from the current"strategic patience." And I don't think that is a very constructive way to deal with North Korea. You can't keep silence. It's not good to go without dialog.

As for North Koreans, they are thinking: "Well, now we have nuclear weapons, and that's your problem. Deal with it."

Q3. What will be the path to Korean unification?

Emanuel Pastreich: In terms of long-term resolution, it seems we need both the US and China to be committed at a higher level for an agreement on nonproliferation. It is important for us not to be distracted by other issues, and to let the North and South Koreans themselves have their own dialogue about the issues of unification.

Jin Kai: Yes. I think there are two very fundamental issues that underlie this issue. One is denuclearization. The other is peace. I think the second issue is actually a more critical issue. All of the issues stem from conflicts between North Korea and the US regarding security. So both issues must be dealt withdirectly.

Emanuel Pastreich: Because if you're moving towards peace, the idea that you have nuclear weapons isn't such a threatening fact. You can have nuclear weapons that just sit there. But if you're not moving towards peace, then every action becomes potentially threatening.

Jin Kai: Yes.

Emanuel Pastreich: Thank you everybody for joining us today, and thank you Dr. Jin Kai for joining us.