Kim Jong Un cancels talks with South Korea. What is the real reason behind it?

“The president of China, President Xi, could be influencing Kim Jong Un.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):川普说的有道理吗?
Does president Trump have a point?

“I believe Beijing played a role in it. By its current situation Beijing has clear motives to match up North Korea. ”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任): “我个人认为金正恩之所以如此反应,更多是考虑到即将到来的文在寅与川普的会晤。”
“I personally think that the greater influence might be the fact that Moon is about to travel to Washington to meet Trump.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“您认为川-金会能达成协议吗?如果能,那么中共将面临怎样的情势?”
“ Do you think Trump and Kim can actually strike a deal? If so, where would China be in the new dynamic after such an agreement?”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“ 从中共的角度来看,美朝之间达成一个坏的协议反而是好事。即使无法让朝鲜无核化,维持现状对中共来说也是好的 。”
“A bad deal from China’s perspective will probably be seen as good because it will perpetuate the status quo even if it might not resolve in complete North Korean denuclearization. ”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):大家好!欢迎收看《世事关心》,我是萧茗。是真的,金正恩又变卦了,他取消了与南韩的高级会谈。这出乎人们的意料,因为前一天还一切正常,他关闭了一处核基地;释放了三名美国人质;和南韩总统文在寅在板门店聚首。但是我们需谨记:金正恩的本质是不会变的。虽说他也许比他的祖父、父亲更擅长在国际舞台上纵横捭阖。但是他的对手也换人了,川普总统和他的前任们也不一样了。金正恩想重施故伎保住金家王朝,但是川普决心开创新纪元。事情究竟会如何发展?让我们在这一期的《世事关心》里探讨。
Welcome to 《Zooming In》, I am Simone Gao. Yes, Kim Jong-un flipped again by cancelling the meeting with the South. This is surprising considering up until the day before the cancellation, Kim had been smiling. He closed a nuclear test site, released 3 US hostages, and walked back and forth with South Korean president Moon Jae-in over the Korean border. But Kim is Kim. We should never forget that. This Kim might be different in a way that he is more skilled than his father and grandfather at his maneuvers on the international stage. However, his counterpart is also different. President Trump is neither president Clinton nor president Bush or Obama. Kim wants to repeat history, but Trump wants to make history. How will this match proceed? Let’s explore in this episode of 《Zooming In》.

Last week, North Korea abruptly canceled its high-level talks with South Korea just hours before they were scheduled to begin. North Korea’s state television made an announcement:“The South Korean authorities, lost all senses, should be held wholly accountable for the scuttled North-South high-level talks and the difficulties and obstacles in the way of the North-South relations. The US will have to think twice about the fate of the North Korea-US summit being now high on the agenda in respect of a provocative military racket against North Korea in league with the South Korean authorities.”

Footage of NKorea’s announcement

A statement published by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim Kye Gwan,North Korea’s First Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying “If the Trump administration was‘genuinely committed’to improving ties with Pyongyang,they will receive a deserving response. But if they try to push us into a corner and force only unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in that kind of talks and will have to reconsider the upcoming summit.” He also said North Korea is not interested in U.S. economic compensation in exchange for North Korea’s abandonment of nuclear weapons.

The statement also referenced earlier comments made by John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, about Libya being a potential model for North Korean denuclearization.

The Libyan former leader Moammar Gadhafi dismantled his nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs in December 2003 after months of negotiations with the U.S. Afterwards, Gadhafi considered it too small of a reward for Libya for giving up its nuclear weapons program. He was also dissatisfied at the United States’ slowness in normalizing relations with Libya and in pressuring Israel to denuclearize. The Libyan government was overthrown in the Arab Spring in 2011 with the help of NATO forces, and Gadhafi was shot dead by rebels.

Kim Kye Gwan refers to Bolton’s comments as “an awfully sinister move to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers.”

On Friday, however, President Trump dismissed talk of applying the“Libyan model”to North Korea.

“Well, the Libyan model isn’t a model that we have at all when we’re thinking of North Korea. In Libya we decimated that country. That country was decimated. There was no deal to keep Gadhafi. The Libyan model that was mentioned was a much different deal. This would be with Kim Jong Un, something where he’d be there, he’d be in his country, he’d be running his country.”

Despite the reasons the Kim regime gave for this sudden change of mind, the move is still surprising considering just a week earlier North Korea released three American hostages. Just a day before, it appeared to have shut down a nuclear test site. Weeks before, Kim Jong-un walked across the border into South Korea for the first time and met South Korean President Moon Jae-in. And back in March, South Korea’s national security adviser told reporters Kim had invited Trump to meet. He also said that Kim “understands that the routine joint military exercises between Korea and the United States must continue.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):为什么会出现这个突如其来的变故?我们必须考虑另外一个动向。事发前一个星期,金正恩会见了中共国家主席习近平,那是他们在一个月内的第二次会晤。这个变故还恰好发生在刘鹤访美,展开贸易谈判之前。中共是否插手此事?我征询了外交委员会朝鲜问题高级学者,对朝政策研究室主任斯科特·施奈德。他认为,事件的主因确实是美韩军事演习和利比亚的先例。对此我做了近一步的询问。
Then how did the sudden change come about? There is another important event we need to take into account. A week before Kim’s dramatic turn, he met with Chinese president Xi Jinping for the second time in a month. The cancellation announcement also came right before Liu He’s upcoming U.S. trip for trade negotiations. Does China play a role in this? I spoke with Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the program on U.S.-Korea policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. Mr. Snyder believes the reasons for Kim’s withdrawal are indeed US-Korea military drill and Libya. I followed up with this question.

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“今年三月,南韩国家安全顾问告诉媒体,金正恩向川普发出会晤邀请,他还对美韩举行例行的军演表示了理解,当时说的好好的,为什么现在反倒成了一个问题?”
“What’s puzzling about the military drill is that back in March, the South Korea national security adviser told the media that Kim Jong-un invited Trump to meet and that he understood the routine joint military exercises between Korea and the U.S. must continue. Then why is it a problem now?”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“那时候讨论的军演是指每年三月美国与韩国联合进行的军事演习。今年,这个军演被推迟到了4月。4月27日,朝鲜与韩国的领导人会面了,并签署了板门协议。协议中双方认可任何一方都不会进行给对方带来威胁的军事演习。协议中的语言含糊,没有明确定义指的是什么样的军事演习。我认为朝鲜只是想看看他能争取到什么。朝鲜认为这次军演的意义,武器和设备违反了韩国与他的协议。我认为朝鲜能理解韩国与美国的军事演习是常规演习,他只是不希望看到能给他自己带来威胁的事件。”
“ The exercises that they were talking about at that time were the annual military drills that the U.S. and South Korea conduct together, usually in March, but this year they were pushed back to April. And then, the two Koreas, the leaders of the two Koreas met on April 27th, and they made this new declaration in which both Koreas pledged to not to take — undertake military activities that could be perceived as hostile to the other. But it was a very vague statement, not well defined. And I think the North Koreans are just trying to see what they can get and indicate that they see the nature and equipment used in this particular exercise as violating the spirit of that agreement. And so I think that it is still the case that North Korea recognizes that the U.S. and South Korea have a legitimate reason to conduct exercises, but they don’t want to see elements that they consider to be hostile or offensive.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“另一件事,在金正恩取消与南韩的高级会谈之前一个星期,他与习近平进行了同一个月里的第二次会晤。您是否认为金正恩的举动是出于习的授意?”
“ Another thing is, a week before Kim Jong-un’s cancellation announcement, he went to China to meet with Xi Jinping for the second time in a month. Do you think that meeting has anything to do with this?”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“我个人认为金正恩如此反应,更多是因为文在寅即将来华盛顿见川普。对比金正恩去大连见习近平,的确,朝鲜和中国对美国在朝鲜半岛的作用上有一致的看法。但我不认为习近平会那麽直接的影响到金正恩对此次联合军演的反应。那样的话,动作就太明显了。中共处事的方法有时出手很重,但多数的时候他们采用比较隐蔽的做法。所以他不太可能直接告诉朝鲜去反对美韩的军事演习,更可能的解释是朝鲜帮助习近平针对韩国访美做出的反应。”
“ I personally think that the greater influence might be the fact that Moon is about to travel to Washington to meet Trump rather than the fact that Kim Jong-un went to Dalian to meet Xi Jinping. It is true that North Korea and China have similar perspectives with regards to the role of the United States on the Korean Peninsula. But I just don’t quite think that Xi Jinping has been so specific as to suggest to Kim Jong-un that he should object to this military exercise. I think that’s not a very subtle approach. I think that the Chinese modus operandi, it may be heavy-handed at times, but it often is relatively subtle and that particular approach of putting Kim Jong-un up to trying to push back against the U.S. are okay exercises. I think it was more likely that the North Koreans came up with that idea than that they’re doing it at the behest of Xi Jinping.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“您如何看待川普总统提出的关于利比亚模式不适用于朝鲜的评论,还说如果弃核,北韩会由穷变富,金正恩也会继续执政,如果北韩愿意弃核的话?”
“What do you make of President Trump’s comment that the U.S. will not apply the Libya model to North Korea and that North Korea will get really rich and Kim Jong-un can stay in power if he gave up nuclear weapons? ”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“川普总统在朝鲜问题上很为难。朝鲜的反应意味着他们不接受利比亚模式。同时也意味着他们不会接受美国提供的经济援助,如果他们弃核的话。朝鲜想要的是通过外交手段分阶段弃核,同时实现关系正常化和获得安全保障。当然,如果美国提供经济援助,他们也想要。我想从朝鲜角度来看,他们很希望能得到平等对待。他们把美国对他们的承认看作是最大的安全保障。”
“ Well, President Trump’s statement contains complexity. I think for the North Koreans because the North Korean statement of objected to the Libyan model, but it also objected to the idea that the United States was going to offer a lot of economic incentives to North Korea in order to achieve denuclearization. What the North Koreans really want is diplomatic normalization and security guarantees. And then of course, they will also take any economic assistance that the United States provides. But I think from the North Korean perspective, it’s very important to be seen as on an equal footing. And really they’re looking for acceptance by the United States as a kind of a hedge that would remove one of the largest challenges that North Korea perceives to its security.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):说到利比亚模式,请听我与中国大陆问题资深评论员-文昭先生的讨论。
As to the Libya model, let’s also hear my discussion with Chinese senior political commentator Wen Zhao.

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“川普说,美国没有想让朝鲜仿造利比亚模式,还说美国没有给卡扎菲保护。他说金正恩如果配合,他将让朝鲜变得富有,金正恩也能一直执政。您认为,他心目中的协议到底是什么样的?金正恩,他更愿意抱美国的粗腿还是抱中共的粗腿?”
“ To quote Trump, the U.S. doesn’t make North Korea follow the Libya model; it didn’t protect Gadhafi. He promised if Kim would coordinate, he would make North Korea rich, and Kim would stay in power. What’s Trump’s deal like? Whose arms would Kim prefer, the U.S. or Communist China?”

“ Honestly, Trump’s remarks are widely mistaken. When he said he didn’t want to apply the Libya model to North Korea, he was simply telling — very probably — that Kim doesn’t have to worry: the fate of Gadhafi — abandoning nuclear programs and being hit in the civil war by the West — won’t happen to North Korea. The U.S. won’t attack North Korea after it gives up nuclear weapons — Kim’s safety is guaranteed. He wasn’t saying the U.S. gave up the model of denuclearization coming before compensation for Libya. Nor was he saying that he’s prepared to accept North Korea’s phased, synchronous denuclearization program. Trump is no professional diplomat. So many confused concepts in his mind. I even suspect if he’s clear about details of the denuclearization process in Libya. Those of his words were mainly to ease Kim’s security anxiety. North Korea’s so-called “phased, synchronous implementation” denuclearization program is even looser than the Iran nuclear agreement. If Trump accepts, his withdrawal from the Iranian agreement will be a joke. A “permanently, verifiably, and irreversibly” denuclearized deal is Trump’s goal. For the U.S., China and North Korea, the extent of the Chinese regime protecting North Korea depends on the value of North Korea in trade talks. There’s no solid foundation for Sino-Korean ties. That, I judge, also makes it hard for Kim to anchor his trust in Beijing.”

Coming up, Wen Zhao explains China’s role in Kim’s sudden change of attitude.

After Kim Jong-un unilaterally canceled the high level talks with South Korea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the U.S. to remain calm. The next day, President Trump indicated that Chinese President Xi Jinping could be influencing Kim Jong-un.

“I think things changed a little bit when they met with China. They met a second time, as you know, Kim Jong-un had a second meeting with China, which was a little bit of a surprise meeting. The president of China, President Xi, could be influencing Kim Jong-un, but we’ll see,That’s just look . if you remember, a few weeks ago, all of a sudden out of nowhere, Kim Jong-un went to China to say hello again a second time to President Xi. I think they were dedicating an aircraft carrier, paid for largely by the United States. ”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao): 川普总统的看法是否有道理?让我们来听听中国大陆问题资深评论员文昭先生的意见。

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“川普也感觉习近平可能在金正恩突然取消朝韩会谈这件事上起了作用。你觉得川普这么想有道理吗?”
“Trump feels that Xi could play a role in Kim’s sudden cancellation of the North-South talks. Is Trump right in thinking so?”

“ I believe Beijing played a role in it. Besides Kim’s trip to Dalian on May 7-8, another North Korea delegation visited Beijing on May 14. The next day Chinese Vice Premier Liu flew to the U.S. Just one day later Kim threatened to cancel the scheduled U.S.-North Korea summit. These events were so close in time that it’s hard to deny the connection among them. By its current situation Beijing has clear motives to match up North Korea. Kim gave his threat on May 16, and round 2 of Sino-US trade talks staged on May 17. China can say that it has influence to keep Kim quiet at the negotiation table, and the U.S. should compromise in return. The U.S.-South Korea military exercise is not a surprise. It was made clear during the North-South Korea visits and Pompeo’s two trips to North Korea. And Kim raised no objection. Bolton’s remarks on the “Libya model” occurred at the end of April. And Kim kept silent for a lengthy period of more than two weeks. He even released three American hostages on May 9. So his sudden change of stance might be due to the recent influence from Beijing.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“那麽,金正恩现在这样做,想达到什么目标?习近平又想达到什么目的呢?”
“ Then, why does Kim do so, and what’s his goals? And what’s Xi Jinping’s goals?”

“Both Xi and Kim chose to act together, and use each other to put pressure on Trump. If Trump closes up to the phased, synchronous denuclearization, proposed by China and North Korea, Kim will certainly win the time; in the end, he might even retain part of his nuclear weapons, and economic sanctions will be eased. Over the process, the Chinese regime will maintain its influence in the peninsula. If the Libya model is taken, the U.S. will dominate the entire process. Beijing will be marginalized. So will North Korea. Then China will lose a card over Sino-U.S. trade disputes. It is risky for Kim to lose his temper at the right time of Sino-U.S. trade talks. As in usual Sino-Korea practices, I believe, Kim has gained certain benefits from Xi. Also, a sudden change may upset South Korea: the Panmunjom meeting gave the South Korean government hope for a North-South peace agreement and even future national unity. For fear of Kim withdrawing from the talks, Moon Jae-in may make more concessions and persuade the U.S. into compromising.”

Coming Up: Kim Jong-un repeats history, but will President Trump?

Despite the surprise, Kim Jong-un is not the first one in the Kim family who withdraws from important agreements. The Kim family has done this more than once.

In 1994, the Clinton Administration and North Korea signed an Agreed Framework. The U.S. agreed to facilitate the supply of two light-water reactors to North Korea in exchange for North Korea’s disarmament. However, the U.S. suspected that North Korea did not stop its nuclear program. In 1998, the U.S. requested to inspect its Yongbyon underground nuclear facilities. Kim Jong-il agreed but asked for $300,000,000 in compensation. The U.S. refused and that led to the first collapse of the agreement. During the Bush administration, the U.S. obtained evidence that North Korea was still secretly developing nuclear weapons and requested to send inspectors to North Korea again. North Korea rejected it and officially reopened its nuclear program under the excuse of developing nuclear power.

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):克林顿,小布什,和奥巴马政府都没能制止北韩的核武计划。唐纳德·川普改变了策略。他会成功吗?让我们听听文昭和斯科特·施奈德的意见。
The Clinton, Bush and Obama administration had not been successful in terminating North Korea’s nuclear program. Donald Trump used a different strategy. Is it better? Let’s hear what Wen Zhao and Scott Snyder have to say.

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“川普的最大压力原则有评论说是借鉴里根对付苏联的思路,您认为这是个好的策略吗?适用于金正恩吗?”
“ Some say Trump’s max pressure strategy comes from Reagan’s thinking to deal with the Soviet Union. Is it a desirable solution? Does it work for Kim?”

“ I think it is a correct option for the United States. The reason is simple. Any change made in favor of the U.S. results from added pressure, either in the North Korean nuclear issue or in Sino-U.S. trade disputes. For any communist regime, they are afraid of nothing but two things: first, your national power; second, your determination to use your national power. Western nations never lack advantages of resources, but lacked the determination to use them. If you have advantages in your hands but never think of using them, it’s just like you’ve never had them at all. In the issue of North Korea, if the pressure policy is to work, it should be applied not only to North Korea, but also to China and South Korea. Of course it should vary with each of them. For Kim, it is economic sanctions plus military pressure; for the Chinese regime, it is trade sanctions; for South Korea, it is urging Moon Jae-in not to compromise. On Iran’s nuclear agreement, Trump demonstrated that he can, if necessary, act alone without its allies. He should also pass the same pressure on to South Korea.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):斯科特 施奈德发表了他的看法。
This is what Scott Snyder has to say about this topic.

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“川普在处理金正恩这个问题上,与他的前任不同。有人说他的‘最大限度施压’策略源于里根。里根当年的理论基础是什么?这一策略因何而成功?”
“ Trump is different from previous presidents in his dealing with the Kim regime. Some say his maximum pressure tactic is from Ronald Reagan. What is the philosophy behind Ronald Reagan’s strategy back then? And why did it work?”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“里根总统的哲学是以实力求和平。我认为川普的这种给朝鲜施加最大压力的方案包含了里根的思想。与川普总统对比来看,让我想起来了雷克雅未克的首脑会议。里根和戈尔巴乔夫就全球武器控制问题坦诚的交换了他们自己的想法,而不是官僚主导的内容,我想可能川普总统对金正恩也是这样做的,除了雷克雅未克首脑会议,我想不出历史上还有哪个先例可以帮助我们看清川普会以怎样的策略对待金正恩。”
“ Well, President Reagan’s dictum I think was peace through strength. And so I do think that the maximum pressure campaign contains elements that could be derived from that philosophy. But when I think of Ronald Reagan, and relevance to President Trump’s current approach, what I think about is the Reykjavík Summit where Reagan and Gorbachev talked with each other about global arms control in an open and unscripted fashion based on their own ideas and not based on some kind of understanding crafted by the bureaucrats. And I think that is what president Trump may be doing with Kim Jong-un, and it’s very rare, in fact. I don’t think that we can identify a prior precedent, other than the Reagan Gorbachev meeting, that can help us to understand the way that President Trump is approaching his meeting with Kim Jong-un.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):“您认为川、金会能达成协议吗?如果能,那么中共将面临怎样的情势?”
“Do you think Trump and Kim can actually strike a deal? If so, where would China be in the new dynamic after such an agreement?”

Scott Snyder(外交委员会对朝政策研究室主任):“如果我们预测一下金川会将发生什么,我认为有三种可能:好的协议、坏的协议、和达不成协议。从中共的角度来看,美国和北韩之间达成好的协议可能会改变朝鲜的战略,这大概是中共所不希望看到的。从中共角度来看,达成一个坏的协议反而是好事,那意味着要维持现状, 即便不会实现朝鲜无核化。从中共角度来看,达不成协议对中国来说也很糟糕,因为那意味着武力解决问题的可能性增加了。”
“So if we look at what might happen in a Trump-Kim summit, there are really three, I think, distinct possibilities: one would be a good deal, the second would be a bad deal, and the third would be no deal. From the perspective of China, a good deal, a U.S.-DPRK good deal, might also involve a change in North Korea strategic orientation. And I think China would see that as bad. A bad deal from China’s perspective would probably be seen as good because it would perpetuate the status quo even if it might not result in complete North Korean denuclearization. And no deal from China’s perspective would also be bad because it would raise the likelihood of return to military confrontation between the United States and North Korea.”

萧茗(Host/Simone Gao):根据最新消息,金正恩在取消了和韩国的会谈之后,他现在要韩国交回早先叛逃的12名北韩服务员,但这一要求被南韩拒绝。与此同时,美中双方宣布,为改善贸易不平衡现象,中国大陆同意大幅增加从美国的进口。 看来美方初战告捷,我们还要关注后续发展。我们这期节目就到此为止。感谢收看《世事关心》。我是萧茗,我们下周再会。
The latest news is that after Kim Jong-un cancelled the meeting with the South, he demanded that Seoul return 12 North Korean defectors. But Seoul said those people want to stay in the South. Meanwhile, the U.S. and China both announced China has agreed to significantly increase purchases of U.S. goods and services in order to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries. Not a bad start for America. Let’s see what happens next. This concludes today’s program. Thanks for watching《 Zooming In》, I am Simone Gao, and see you next week.


Producer: Simone Gao
Writer : Simone Gao Jess Beatty
Editors: Julian Kuo Melodie Von Frank Lin