To affirm the unassailable rule of the Kim dynasty, even at the expense of its own people, the discomfiture of its neighbors and the misgivings of the world, North Korea asserts the freedom to misgovern and project itself without interference. Looking at it from the outside, especially with its ballistic missiles landing in Japanese waters, we may say they have brought it on themselves. But think, however much we may disagree, what the world looks like from Pyongyang.

By cultivating the specter of nuclear attack by the United States it justifies its rapid advance toward possession of nuclear-armed ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, which surely would be MAD (though hardly mutually assured destruction), not to mention the immediate threat to South Korea and Japan. In return, the overwhelming military superiority of the U.S. would assure the obliteration of North Korea’s offensive potential and presumably of its regime. With this prospect and an assumption that this is not contemplated by the North Korean leaders, it is appropriate to ask what grand bargain acceptable to its southern neighbor would North Korea be prepared to make in return for the survival of the state.

Kim Jong Un might consider adopting some “strategic patience” of his own and gain space to redefine himself as the savior of his country by championing the total denuclearization and “demissilization” of the Korean Peninsula in return for the ending of sanctions and receiving economic assistance on the scale of the Marshall Plan by the U.S. and perhaps China and other countries, plus guaranteed borders, international recognition and participation in a regional regime of mutually assured peace that would appeal to all within range.

Consider the DMZ. It is a waste of 1,000 sq. km. If it were eliminated by treaty and both sides still needed a demilitarized comfort zone, it could be turned into a special economic zone. It could give hope to the dream of a demilitarized federal Korea with open corridors across the SEZ permitting the reunification of divided families — and even of Korea itself.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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