Moon should send envoy to North Korea: experts     DATE: 2024-07-15 15:29:11

Visitors use binoculars to see the North side from the unification observatory in Paju,<strong></strong> South Korea, May 6. North Korea appears to have tested a new short-range missile. AP-Yonhap
Visitors use binoculars to see the North side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, May 6. North Korea appears to have tested a new short-range missile. AP-Yonhap

By Kim Yoo-chul

President Moon Jae-in needs to send a special envoy to North Korea as early as possible to demand the halt of any further provocative actions following the North's recent missile launches, analysts said Tuesday.

They said even conventional weapons testing could put Washington-Pyongyang relations on a downward spiral. As President Moon acts not only as a facilitator of nuclear dialogue, but as an advocate that Pyongyang and Washington can trust, sending an envoy will help the Koreas and the U.S. avoid further tension, they added.

An envoy could discuss specific conciliatory incentives such as snapback provisions on sanctions easing, a resumption of humanitarian assistance, and Washington's promise for security guarantees.

"North Korea's latest missile tests show how fragile both the nuclear issue and President Donald Trump's personal diplomacy with Kim Jong-un are. Against this backdrop, Moon should send a special envoy to the North as soon as possible to keep the nuclear diplomacy going," Kim Kyung-min, a diplomacy professor at Hanyang University, said.

Kim Hyung-seok, a former vice unification minister, also supported the idea of dispatching a special envoy to "minimize North Korea's provocations" in order to prevent angering the U.S., specifically Trump.

Seoul to review size, format of Pyongyang food assistance: Cheong Wa Dae Seoul to review size, format of Pyongyang food assistance: Cheong Wa Dae 2019-05-08 12:09  |  North Korea 'Trump supports Seoul's plan to supply food aid to Pyongyang' 'Trump supports Seoul's plan to supply food aid to Pyongyang' 2019-05-08 00:42  |  Politics
"The two Koreas need to talk. As Washington is still maintaining its own strategic patience on the matter, President Moon has to get Washington to offer limited sanctions relief. Seoul and Washington want North Korea to continue talking, but Pyongyang needs motivation to prevent it acting provocatively," the former vice minister said.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, stressed sending an envoy to address Pyongyang's latest provocation was a "good idea" as the missile launches showed Kim's patience could be wearing thin.

They agreed, in principle, that Seoul and Washington are handling the situation, fairly well. But they stressed the North Korean leader did cross Trump's own red line of testing no missiles whatsoever while the denuclearization talks were underway.

Visitors use binoculars to see the North side from the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea, May 6. North Korea appears to have tested a new short-range missile. AP-Yonhap
A commercial satellite image, captured by Planet over the Hodo Peninsula at 10:54 am local time May 4, shows what analysts at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey believe is the launch point and exhaust trail of a new short-range ballistic missile tested by North Korea. Planet/Handout-Reuters

A senior presidential aide told The Korea Times that Cheong Wa Dae would soon announce "further details" related to sending an envoy.

Harry J. Kazianis, director of Korean Studies at the U.S. Center for the National Interest, said it's unlikely that the missile test will end Trump's diplomatic efforts to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear program and said Washington officials should "utilize the South Korean government effectively."

"What makes Trump well-suited to negotiating a deal with North Korea is that he is a realist and pragmatist. Because he is not a career politician, a diplomat or a trained political scientist, his ideas are not limited to the conventional thinking that has failed to halt North Korea's march to become a nuclear power," the director said.

The Cheong Wa Dae official said U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit the presidential office later this week for talks with senior presidential aides on "various pending issues." Biegun's visit comes after the North requested major food aid in February. During a recent U.S.-South Korea summit, Trump supported the idea of supplying food to the impoverished North.

Trump and Kim failed to reach an agreement on how to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program permanently and verifiably at their recent summit in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trump demanded a complete shutdown, while Kim offered a phased approach with reciprocal sanctions relief.