Mark P. Barry: Brief Bio

Dr. Mark P. Barry is an independent Asian affairs analyst who has followed U.S.-DPRK relations for 33 years. He is Associate Editor Emeritus of the peer-reviewed quarterly (published 1984-2021) International Journal on World Peace, and Lecturer in Management at Unification Theological Seminary.

He visited North Korea twice and met the late President Kim Il Sung in April 1994. He also assisted the president of a Washington, DC, NGO who held a four-hour one-on-one meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Il in 2005; the NGO sought to improve U.S.-DPRK ties in 2005-06 (especially through the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Party Talks).

Since 2016, Dr. Barry has been a regular live contributor to Arirang News (the news division of South Korea’s official international broadcaster, Arirang TV), and has appeared on CNN International, the BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) News, Voice of America, RadioLIVE (New Zealand), and Seoul’s TBS eFM radio to discuss the DPRK. He has also been interviewed by Newsweek, China Newsweek, Nikkei Asia, The World Weekly, Radio Free Asia Korean Service, South Korea’s News1, and contributed op-eds to the World Policy Blog of the World Policy Institute and to NK News.

In 2005, he helped found and direct the Asia Pacific Peace Institute in Washington, DC, an outgrowth of discussions between U.S. businessmen and senior DPRK officials. He also helped organize the convening of the first-ever meeting of legislators from China and Taiwan in Tokyo in early June 1989, under the auspices of the International Security Council. From 1988-90, he was assistant editor of ISC’s Global Affairs, a Washington-based defense and foreign policy quarterly.

Dr. Barry has spoken on U.S.-DPRK relations before the Korean Political Science Association, the Korea Institute of National Unification, the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii, and universities in Seoul and the U.S., as well as at U.S. military installations. His articles have appeared on international affairs and newspaper websites, in edited books, and in academic journals, including the academic journal of the ROK Ministry of Defense.

He received his Ph.D. in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and his M.A. in national security studies from Georgetown University (including classes attended at the Pentagon). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in international relations, global management, leadership, intercultural communication, and modern Korean history. His 1996 dissertation is titled Contemporary American Relations with North Korea, 1987-1994 (committee chair Dr. Kenneth W. Thompson).

Dr. Barry concurs with the views of Thompson and his mentor, Hans Morgenthau, that we should not rely on one truth and that all political insights are partial, motives are usually mixed, and any one truth taken to its logical extreme will prove harmful. Barry is reluctant to judge one side in a dispute entirely right and the other irrevocably wrong, granting instead that both may have some claim of justice which they might press too far if unopposed.

Barry has contributed editorially to the Citizens Proposal for a Border Between Israel and Palestine project, the result of efforts to envision and define specific borders that respect equally the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians as part of a two-state solution. He also met Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin.

Barry also has also written on the history, and managerial and cultural impact of Apple, Inc., and its founder, Steve Jobs, as well as the future of Apple after Jobs’ passing.

[Barry believes the songwriting duo of Pat Metheny/Lyle Mays (jazz guitarist/late jazz keyboardist) are among the greatest non-lyrical (instrumental) composers of the modern era (lyrical composers being Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Lennon/McCartney). Timeless music meant to last beyond our lifetimes.🎶🎸🎹]

His popular Twitter feed of curated links on North Korea, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asian affairs is: @drmarkpbarry. His personal web site is He can be reached by email at m.barry[at]♦

Select Korea-related publications (not including pieces on this blog; some links, such as from the World Policy Blog, may have expired):


“On a U.S. President Meeting Kim Jong Un: The Importance of Senior-Level Engagement,” International Journal on World Peace, September 2016 (PDF)

Interview about the 20th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s death with OhMyNews, July 25, 2014, [in Korean]

“How South Korea and America wrecked chance for reconciliation with the North,” The Guardian, July 11, 2014,

“Reflections on Missed Opportunities of Kim Il Sung’s Death,”, July 7, 2014,

“Peace Treaty: The Only Solution to the Korean Problem,”, April 8, 2013,

“The U.S. and the 1945 Division of Korea: Mismanaging the ‘Big Decisions’,” International Journal on World Peace, December 2012 (PDF)

“Pyongyang and Seoul: The Political and Business Capitals of a Unified Korea?”, October 5, 2012,

“North Korea and the Exit from Totalitarianism,”, August 29, 2012

“Thoughts on Making Korea Whole,”, August 16, 2012,

“The U.S. and the 1945 Division of Korea: A Legacy of Mismanaging the ‘Big Decisions’ Affecting Korea?,” The Journal of Peace Studies (Seoul), June 2012

“Korean Reunification Would Cast Off China’s Shadow,”, June 11, 2012,’s-shadow

“Threat of Finlandization by China Should Spur Korean Reunification,”, June 6, 2012,

“Meeting Kim Il Sung in His Last Weeks,”, April 15, 2012,

“An Arab Spring for North Korea?”, March 29, 2012,

“The U.S. and the 1945 Division of Korea,”, February 13, 2012,

“A Window of Opportunity with North Korea,”, January 31, 2012,

“China’s Rise and the Two Koreas” International Journal on World Peace, December 2009 (book review)

“North Korea Requires Long-Term Strategic Relationship with U.S.,” International Journal on World Peace, March 2007 (PDF)

“America’s Role for Peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, Summer 2000 (PDF)

“An Assessment of U.S.-DPRK Relations: Lessons for the Future,” in Two Koreas in Transition: Implications for U.S. Policy, Ilpyong J. Kim, ed., Paragon House, 1998 (PDF)

“The Election of Kim Dae Jung, the American Reaction, and Future Inter-Korean Relations,” NAPSNet Special Report, December 22, 1997

“The U.S. Role in the Korean Reunification Process,” Korea Report, Winter 1996

“North Korea and the United States: Promise or Peril,” in Korea: A World in Change, Kenneth W. Thompson, ed., University Press of America, 1996

“North Korea and the U.S.: Promise or Peril?” Miller Center of Public Affairs, July 7, 1994, (click to hear audio file)

Meeting Kim Il Sung in His Last Weeks

Re-posted from NK News with corrections

By Mark P. Barry, April 15, 2012

Meeting Kim Il Sung in His Last Weeks

(Above) Kim Il Sung pointing to the meaning of the Korean Worker’s Party emblem (using Kim Yong Sun’s party card) at the meeting the author attended on April 16, 1994.

The first (non-communist) Americans to meet North Korea’s president Kim Il Sung [after 1948] likely were journalists Harrison Salisbury of The New York Times, and Selig Harrison, then of The Washington Post, in 1972. Congressman Stephen Solarz (D-NY) was the first U.S. public official to meet him in 1980, and Rev. Billy Graham later met him in 1992 and 1994. Little did I realize when I met Kim Il Sung on April 16, 1994, weeks before his death, I would be among a very small group of Americans ever to do so. On April 15 [2012], North Korea celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the “Eternal President,” perhaps the North’s biggest celebration ever. Kim ruled North Korea for nearly half a century, far outliving Stalin and Mao, and holding power from Truman through Clinton. More importantly, Kim Il Sung embodied North Korea, a country and people he molded in his image. His legacy is now carried on by the young Kim Jong Un, who, North Koreans are constantly reminded, resembles his grandfather.

*  *  *

I was senior staff in a delegation organized by a Washington, DC-based NGO, the Summit Council for World Peace, an association of former heads of state and government, that arrived in Pyongyang at the time of Kim Il Sung’s 82nd birthday. The group was chaired by a former President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Carazo, and included a former Governor General of Canada, former Egyptian prime minister, former chief of staff of the French armed forces, a U.S. think tank executive, and CNN’s chief global news executive, among others. TV crews also came from CNN and Japan’s NHK (journalists included Mike Chinoy, Josette Sheeran and Michael Breen). The Council had a prior record of successfully arranging meetings with Kim Il Sung, and Carazo himself had met Kim several times in the past.

Mid-morning on April 16, 1994 – the day after Kim’s birthday – our international delegation was brought in a fleet of black Mercedes to the Kumsusan Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, Kim Il Sung’s official residence. Our minders kept repeating how lucky we were for this opportunity. Inside, we lined up single file and were introduced individually to the waiting Kim Il Sung by a vice chairman of the Korea Asia Pacific Peace Committee. By Kim’s side was his superb English translator, and party secretary Kim Yong Sun, then the number three figure in North Korea (who later played an instrumental role in the 2000 inter-Korean summit) and chair of the Peace Committee. Kim Il Sung stood and walked on his own without assistance, but had a military aide nearby just in case. He did not seem to be wearing a hearing aid. His handshake was firm, he did not look overweight and appeared to be in good health, although his voice was rather gravelly (a Korean affairs analyst later told me this was because Kim used to smoke a lot). Very noticeable on the right side of his neck was a baseball-sized growth, which was benign, but because of its location, was said to be inoperable; official photos of Kim always were taken from a leftward angle to hide the growth.

Official meeting photo: In front row, President Kim Il Sung in the center; to his right, Rodrigo Carazo, former President of Costa Rica, Edward R. Schreyer, former Governor General of Canada, and Secretary Kim Yong Sun, head of Korean Worker’s Party International Dept., Eason Jordan, President, CNN International, Dr. Antonio Betancourt, Executive Director, Summit Council; to his right, Mrs. Carazo, Mrs. Kim Yong Sun, Aziz Sidky, former Prime Minister of Egypt, General Jeannou Lecaze, former Chief of Staff of the French Armed Forces, Dr. William J. Taylor, Jr., Vice President, CSIS. The author is third from the left in the second row.

After our official greetings, we were brought before a huge mural in the main lobby of the palace for our official photos. They were taken in two groups: the former heads of state and government and other senior members of the delegation, and the journalists. As with other visitors to the palace, we later each received a copy of the official photo with the date gold-stamped.

We were then escorted into the palace conference room with a long table that could accommodate two dozen. Each place setting had a pen, writing pad, and microphone, as well as coffee cup and dish of small candies. After we sat down, the window curtains and room lighting were remotely adjusted. Noticeably, neither the translator nor Kim Yong Sun sat too close to President Kim. On the DPRK side of the table were also Kim Yong Sun’s wife, and two other officials from the Asia Pacific Peace Committee.

President Carazo, who founded the United Nations Peace University in Costa Rica, spoke first, thanking Kim for receiving our group, and noting we were a goodwill delegation that had come to the DPRK for the sake of peace in the entire peninsula. President Kim responded that he regretted that we did not come through Panmunjom because we could then better understand the division of Korea (in fact, we had sought permission from the ROK to do so, but the Kim Young Sam administration denied our request; however, we later traveled to the northern end of Panmunjom, as well as a small town by the DMZ that clearly was not a Potemkin village). Kim added that months earlier, Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) had come to see him, and had returned to South Korea by way of Panmunjom, becoming the first American to do so since the Korean War.

Kim then began to expound. He said, “We always open our doors widely. Our only secrets have to do with the military. But apart from that, we are ready to open to the outside.” The nuclear issue, which had become quite serious by that time, was not brought up in this meeting, but was left to the journalists. Later that day, Kim Il Sung would personally hand to Josette Sheeran, then managing editor of The Washington Times (later Executive Director, World Food Programme, and President of The Asia Society), a booklet of his written answers to her questions, that included his candid responses about the DPRK nuclear program. The full-length interview, her second with him, was published on April 19. I do not believe his answers were ghost-written, but were largely dictated by Kim, because the tone had the same unmistakable authority as when I heard him speak.

Kim then proceeded to boast that in North Korea “there are no beggars, no unemployed, no homeless.” He recalled asking Billy Graham if there were beggars, unemployed and homeless in America, to which Graham said “yes.” While this statement seems laughable in the context of the severe food shortages that North Korea would endure from 1996 on, it was not a ludicrous thing to hear about the North in 1994. Flying in on Air Koryo, President Carazo had peered out the cabin window and saw the expanse of freshly planted rice paddies, and said it appeared North Korea could produce enough food to feed itself. Kim Il Sung also told a story about a visiting Hong Kong businessman who had lost his wallet in a Pyongyang hotel with $10,000 in it; his wallet was returned to him within two hours, everything intact, Kim said.

Kim then turned to what seemed a favorite theme of his: what made the DPRK different from the Soviet Union, China and other communist states. He said, “After 1945, I tried to find intellectuals to rebuild the country, but could only locate a handful. The partisans who fought with me against the Japanese knew how to fight, but not how to build institutions.” The Japanese in their 35-year colonial rule, he said, left no college functioning in the North. “So I had to start my own, which became Kim Il Sung University, and then other schools. Today [1994], there are 1.76 million intellectuals out of a population of 20 million, almost one out of ten citizens.” What still impresses me about his point is how North Koreans value education, are inquisitive, and possess great human capital that can easily be trained to a high-level of professional skill.

Suddenly, Kim Il Sung leaned to the side and asked Secretary Kim Yong Sun for his Korean Workers Party membership card. I will never forget the look on Kim Yong Sun’s face. He almost turned white, because even though President Kim wanted the card just to make a point, Kim Yong Sun did not know if the request meant something more serious, such as losing his party post. But as he handed the card to his leader, Kim Il Sung held it up and pointed to the large gold-stamped party emblem, consisting of the usual hammer and sickle, but also a calligraphy brush in the middle. “In 1946, I created this emblem for our party. The brush symbolizes our highest commitment to intellectual pursuits in every discipline. Our emblem is unique among communist parties in the world. This is an example of juche, doing things our own way. We did everything in our own way.” President Kim then handed the party card back to its relieved owner.

At this juncture, Bill Taylor, Vice President of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who was meeting the North Korean leader for the second time, told Kim that he had not changed a bit from two years ago, and looked to be in good health. Kim responded, “I always live with optimism.” Eason Jordan, president of CNN International, greeted Kim on behalf of Ted Turner, founder of CNN, and expressed hope for a face-to-face interview, which did not materialize. Taylor praised Kim’s decision to allow in CNN and NHK as a very important step. In fact, CNN’s Mike Chinoy conducted the first live broadcast from Pyongyang during this trip, using state television’s satellite uplink.

The meeting ended and we adjourned across the hall for lunch. We sat at a large round table with white tablecloth, although most journalists sat at a second table. The northern Korean cuisine was extraordinary, including my first time to taste blueberry wine. Conversation became a bit more free-flowing. Kim was asked about the role of his son and successor, Kim Jong Il. He responded, “I am so proud of him. As an elderly man, I cannot read easily, and every day my son dictates reports into a cassette recorder so I can listen to them later on. But he keeps me fully informed. He is truly a filial son.” The North Korean leader also noted he likes to hunt, especially wild boar.

One participant asked him if he would like to come to the United States. He responded, “I have yet to visit the United States, but I hope to do so in the future.” Someone suggested he even come to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 1994. Kim smiled. Though he likely feared flying, the State Department could not have prevented him from coming to the UN with other world leaders in attendance because Kim was head of state of a member nation.

According to one Korean affairs specialist, in Kim’s 1994 discussions with Rev. Billy Graham, a large U.S. National Council of Churches delegation, and former president Jimmy Carter, he frequently returned to his youth and engaged in a discussion of religion with curiosity. In a sense, he began to mellow, as older Korean men can be quite susceptible to this; among older overseas Korean men, there is an urge to return to one’s hometown in Korea. This seemed to me to be true based on my observation of Kim Il Sung that day.

After the banquet, we said our individual farewells to Kim Il Sung. Several participants told him they wanted to return to the DPRK with others so they could see the country for themselves. One even invited Kim to come to the U.S. to enjoy sport fishing. Kim seemed genuinely appreciative of each gesture. As we walked out of the reception room, Kim was left standing with just Kim Yong Sun, his translator and military aide. He seemed to regret seeing us leave. We were outsiders, non-Koreans, from Europe, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Egypt, and elsewhere. He appeared to enjoy nothing better than to tell us his story, one few foreigners in the non-communist world had heard. For Kim Il Sung, it was a rare opportunity, to get courtesy and respect from foreign leaders and let them know his legacy. We did not realize Kim had only weeks to live.

Kim Il Sung would see two more outside visitors in June 1994, Selig Harrison and Jimmy Carter, as the nuclear issue reached a fever pitch and both the Clinton and Kim Young Sam administrations prepared for a possible outbreak of hostilities. Carter’s historic trip as the first former U.S. president to meet Kim Il Sung,* defused the nuclear crisis, averted war and led to the 1994 Agreed Framework, which froze the DPRK nuclear program until 2003. Kim also told Carter he agreed to hold the first-ever inter-Korean summit that summer with Kim Young Sam. It was not to be.

Kim Il Sung died suddenly of a heart attack on July 8, 1994. We later learned that Kim knew he was dying and felt an urgency to initiate major policy measures while still alive to effect a strategic change; Kim Jong Il would have been unable to implement major policy change after his father’s death. Kim senior’s meeting with Carter was that pivotal moment, and U.S.-DPRK relations eventually were elevated to where, in October 2000, the top North Korean general, Vice Marshall Jo Myong Rok, greeted Bill Clinton in the White House and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang weeks later. The same pattern appeared to unfold last fall: Kim Jong Il knew he would not live long, and in his final weeks, set into motion policy initiatives, including toward the U.S., to pave the way for Kim Jong Un’s succession.

*  *  *

Kim Il Sung’s official residence became his mausoleum, renamed the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. Kim Jong Il, who died in December (2011), joined his father there. In February 2012, Kim Jong Un rechristened the mausoleum the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, named for his father, but foremost for his grandfather, Kim Il Sung.♦

* Excellent sources for this trip include Marion Creekmore, Jr., A Moment of Crisis: Jimmy Carter, the Power of a Peacemaker, and North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions, 2006, and Douglas Brinkley, The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey to the Nobel Peace Prize (cf. Chapter 20, “Mission to North Korea”), 1998. Bill Clinton was the only former U.S. president to meet Kim Jong Il, in 2009. President Donald Trump met Kim Jong Un three times in 2018 and 2019.


My interview on North Korean provocations and the Russia-China summit

I was interviewed again today on Arirang News’ “Within the Frame” public affairs newscast, along with Dr. Go Myong-hyun of The Asan Institute, to discuss North Korea’s latest provocations in the midst of the resumption of ROK-U.S. military exercises, as well as the recent Russia-China summit in Moscow. Many thanks to host Kim Bo-kyoung for her questions.

As part of my response to the moderator’s last question, I recommended that when President Yoon visits Washington on his state visit in late April, he propose to President Biden jointly inviting President Xi to begin negotiations to end the Korean War Armistice, including comprehensive arms control agreements, and arrive at a peace agreement that will permanently end the 1950-53 Korean War. Here is the full interview:


My pre-parade interview on the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s military

I was interviewed early this morning, along with Dr. Go Myong-hyun of The Asan Institute, on the new Arirang News current affairs program, “Within the Frame,” just prior to the commencement of the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of North Korea’s military. It was also the day after Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, were seen at a dinner banquet for military leaders with their daughter, Ju-ae (see above photo).  The military parade began about 90 minutes after this live broadcast concluded. Many thanks to host Kim Bo-kyoung for her questions.

Due to time, this question was cut. My prepared answer is below:

Q. What would be North Korea’s position on this matter [of South Korea developing its own nuclear weapons] as well? How do you think the North would consider such a discussion? And if South Korea does continue such discussion on having its own nuclear capabilities, would it get even harder for the North to get back to the negotiating table?

A: North Korea will become even more provocative, if only because Kim’s generals will warn him of a rising SK threat, and insist he respond. But I think Kim’s main concern is the overall balance of power in NE Asia, and he cannot protect NK’s sovereignty and independence for too long without balancing his ties with China and Russia with new-found relations with the US and its allies. Kim may be unable to appreciate SK’s justified concern over the reliability of its alliance with the US. But what former Secretary of State Pompeo wrote in his new book, that Kim told him he needs US troops in SK to deter China, is credible. I heard the same words in 1994 from Secretary Kim Yong Sun, who was the #3 leader in North Korea at that time. To Pompeo, Kim Jong Un compares China’s view of the role of the Korean peninsula to that of Tibet and Xinjiang, which China controls to protect its core. The real issue for NK is if the US can ever establish a reliable relationship with the North, which Kim’s experience with President Trump tells him “no.”

Kim to Pompeo: ‘If No U.S. in S. Korea, China Would Treat Peninsula Like Tibet and Xinjiang’

Partial list of Americans who met Kim Il Sung

DPRK President Kim Il Sung (1912-94) is said to have met thousands of foreigners, but comparatively few Americans. Those Americans include:

Affiliation at time of meeting; year(s) met; (d) = deceased

After DPRK independence in September 1948:

Harrison Salisbury, New York Times (interview with Kim), (article), 1972 (d)
• John M. Lee, New York Times, 1972 (d)
• Selig Harrison, Washington Post (article and interview with Kim), 1972, Carnegie Endowment, 1994 (d)
• Rep. Stephen Solarz, 1980, 1991 (d)
• Ralph Clough, SAIS, 1980, 1991 (d)
• Stanley O. Roth, House Foreign Affairs Committee, 1991 [Roth accompanied Solarz to Pyongyang; as Assistant Secretary of State for EAP, Roth also met Kim Jong Il in 2000]
• Rev. Billy Graham (with Dr. Stephen Linton and other members of the Graham delegations) 1992, 1994 (for Graham’s accounts of meeting Kim, see Ch. 34 in Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham) (d)
• Former Rep. Richard Ichord, American Freedom Coalition (AFC), 1992 (d)
• Former Rep. Bob Mathias, AFC, 1992 (d)
• Amb. John Holdridge, AFC, 1992 (d)
• Amb. Douglas MacArthur II (the General’s nephew and namesake), AFC, 1992 (d)
• Max Hugel, former Deputy Director, CIA; AFC, 1992 (d)
• [The AFC delegation that met Kim in May-June 1992 included approx. 40 participants, among them former U.S. congressmen, governors and other senior officials]
• Dr. Robert Grant, AFC, 1992
• Gary Jarmin, AFC, 1992
• Dr. Thomas J. Ward, AFC, 1992
• Larry R. Moffitt, AFC, 1992
• Dr. William J. Taylor, Jr., CSIS, 1992, 1994 (d)
Josette Sheerhan, Washington Times, 1992 (article and interview with Kim), 1994 (written interview with Kim)
• Victoria Yokota, Washington Times, 1992
• Rep. Gary Ackerman, 1993
• [Ackerman was accompanied by two congressional staffers, and State’s Kenneth Quinones (see his report)]
• Dr. C. Kenneth Quinones, State Dept., 1993
• Eason Jordan, VP, CNN International, 1994 (twice in April & June)
Mike Chinoy, CNN, 1992, 1994 (see Ch. 11 of China Live: People Power and the Television Revolution)
• Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt (USMC, Ret.), 1994
• Dr. Antonio Betancourt, Summit Council, 1992, 1994 (5 times total)(d)*
Dr. William P. Selig, Summit Council, 1992 [also met Kim Jong Il]
Dr. Mark P. Barry, Summit Council, 1994
• Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, 1994
Richard A. Christenson, State Dept., 1994
• Nancy Konigsmark, Carter Center, 1994 (d)
• Amb. Marion Creekmore, Carter Center, 1994

The above DPRK video includes Kim meeting Rev. Billy Graham, Selig Harrison and former President Jimmy Carter. Also, the international delegation I accompanied in April 1994 is shown around the 4:30 mark; I’m in the back row, third from the left, of the group shot (just like the header photo at top).

Before DPRK independence in September 1948 (thanks to Koryo Tours for this info):

William R. Langdon, Political Counselor to Gen. John R. Hodge, USA, in Korea (October 1946)
• Major General Albert E. Brown, USA, Chief Commissioner, American delegation to the US-USSR Joint Commission, plus members of the U.S. delegation to Pyongyang (July 1947)

*=also attended Kim Il Sung’s funeral in July 1994, and twice met Kim Jong Il in 1992, 1994

Does not include the names of U.S. citizens who were likely part of CNN’s crews in its 1992 and 1994 visits in which they met Kim Il Sung, nor the name of one individual who met Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il while a Soviet diplomat. Also does not include the names of any Communist Party USA (AKFIC) members who may have met Kim (AKFIC at least got a written response to interview questions); CPUSA head Gus Hall once received a box of presents from Kim. Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver visited North Korea twice in 1969-70, but may not have met Kim himself despite his subsequent praise of the regime. For the names of several Korean-Americans who met Kim, likely among at least dozens, please confer Dr. Myers’ comments below.

Has North Korea made its point by now?

I again appeared on Arirang News’ “On Point” segment this morning to discuss whether or not there will be more North Korean missile tests, a possible seventh nuclear test, and why current methods by the U.S. and South Korea no longer seem to work.

I also proposed Camp David-style negotiations next year, the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice, to be hosted in Hawaii by the U.S., to negotiate a final settlement of the Korean War, including the disposition of the North’s nuclear and missile programs as part of the political settlement. I contend this is the proper solution that could bring stability to Northeast Asia and which the North will respect because its founder, Kim Il Sung, signed the Armistice (see National Archives photo above). Many thanks to anchor Kim Do-yeon for his questions.

Video of full-interview:

Photo at top: The signatures of North Korea’s Supreme Army Commander and Leader Kim Il Sung, grandfather of current North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un, along with signatories from China and the United Nations (led by the U.S.), are seen on the original English-language copy of the Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War, signed on July 27, 1953, as displayed in a conservation lab of the U.S. National Archives in Adelphi, Maryland.

North Korea not “biding its time” on conducting a 7th nuclear test

I remain on Twitter, as I have been since 2009.

Can North Korea deal with “Emperor Xi”?

I was interviewed by Arirang News today (Seoul time, on their “New Day” program) on what China’s just-finished party congress will mean for North Korea, and whether the DPRK will still conduct a seventh nuclear test. Many thanks to anchor Kim Do-yeon for his astute questions, and it was great to be back on the air again.

Here is the five-minute video segment:

North Korean Denuclearization: RIP?

My full emailed remarks (slightly edited) to Nikkei Asia on whether the goal of North Korean denuclearization is dead:

“I had been a strong proponent of the 1994 Agreed Framework that froze the nascent North Korean nuclear program in exchange for proliferation-resistant light-water reactors and heavy fuel oil. After the Bush 43 administration threw the agreement out the window because the North Koreans were found cheating (they cheated because the U.S. was many months late in delivering each shipload of fuel oil), the U.S. lost the chance to build trust and to begin to normalize relations. Although the Six Party Talks made some progress in 2005, the first DPRK nuclear test was in 2006. Their trajectory has not changed since.

We perhaps came close to an interim agreement at the Hanoi summit in February 2019, but Trump wanted a quick, comprehensive deal, or none at all — so he chose none.

So, it’s about time that some Korean affairs experts are publicly acknowledging that the goal of denuclearization is now obsolete. The U.S. government will never admit that, but privately all its statements indicate it intends to at best manage the problem, and kick the can down the road. I have never believed that any problem can be “managed” long-term. You need a settlement between adversaries, and it needs to be just.

North Korea sees four imperialist powers in the world: China, Russia, Japan, and the U.S. But it regards the U.S. as the most benign of the four. Also, only the U.S. can balance the enormous pressure the North feels from China, especially with Xi about to assume a third term. The DPRK is less interested in lifting the sanctions regime (although it’s still important) than in being accepted as a sovereign nation that can guarantee its independence through modern nuclear weapons. Its goal is unimpaired sovereignty, and however grudgingly, the acceptance of its status by the U.S. and its allies including Japan and South Korea.

I believe the nuclear issue will not be solved until the Korean War formally comes to an end, replacing the Armistice with a peace treaty, diplomatic recognition by the U.S. and Japan of the DPRK, and treating the DPRK with commensurate respect.

My late colleague, Antonio Betancourt, who met Kim Il Sung five times, used to say you have to treat your adversary with the respect he may not deserve, otherwise you lose a negotiating partner and the prospects for peace. The U.S. has not treated North Korea with the respect it feels is commensurate with its status. Twenty years ago it could have enabled diplomatic friendship to supplant nuclear weapons for the North’s need for security, but that train left the station.

I propose that President Biden, in the second half of his term, launch a negotiating process, much like Camp David that was used between Israel and Egypt and later the PLO, to work out a peace settlement to end the Korean War and begin diplomatic recognition. At the apex of the negotiating process, Kim should be invited to a military base in Hawaii or Guam for final negotiations where, however reluctantly, Biden and Kim sign an agreement that formally ends the Korean War and create greater stability in Northeast Asia. China will publicly support such an agreement, even though it won’t be happy about the improved DPRK relations with the U.S.”♦