On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, the Asan Institute for Policy Studies hosted a closed roundtable with a Swiss delegation led by H.E. Mr. Yves Rossier, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland.
The Swiss delegation sought to discuss the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and the best methods for engaging North Korea.
While some hope should always be maintained, experts from the Asan Institute expressed doubt about the short-terms prospects for diplomatic or economic engagement with North Korea. Dr. Hahm, president of the Asan Institute, stated “Our only hope was that Chinese influence, or Chinese anger towards North Korea, would be strong enough to put pressure on the regime. But, it is clear that China is either unwilling or unable to pull the plug [on their support for the regime.]” Given the current security environment, the stalemate in inter-Korean relations, and the lack of movement by all stakeholders towards bilateral and multilateral engagement, it appears unlikely that there will be any major changes in North Korean policy in the near future.
However, in the long term excessive spending by Kim Jong-un on luxury goods and infrastructure, growing inflation, increasing influence of the black market, and corruption could negatively impact the North Korean economy. Dr. Go Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute, mentioned that combined with North Korean peoples’ rising expectations about basic standards of living this could create pressure on the regime and an opportunity for change over time. At the conclusion of the roundtable, it was agreed that if, and/or, when change occurs in North Korea the international community and South Korea should be prepared to deal with the situation.
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 / 9:30am–10:30am
Venue: Conference Room (2F), The Asan Institute for Policy Studies