Moon may send special envoy to North Korea soon     DATE: 2024-07-15 15:34:46

President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with his <strong></strong>aides after wrapping up his U.S. visit and returning to Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyonggi Province, April 12. / Yonhap
President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with his aides after wrapping up his U.S. visit and returning to Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyonggi Province, April 12. / Yonhap

Chung Eui-yong, Suh Hoon touted as possible candidates

By Yi Whan-woo

Speculation is growing that President Moon Jae-in may send a special envoy to North Korea soon to arrange talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

Cheong Wa Dae officials and analysts said Sunday Moon is seriously considering sending an envoy to Pyongyang following talks last week with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C.

This is to find a breakthrough amid a tug-of-war between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Trump over methods of denuclearization.

Over the weekend, the two leaders indicated they remain open to a possible third summit, even after their second meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended without an agreement in late February.

"Given the current circumstances, sending a special envoy at the earliest possible date will be crucial," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. "Otherwise the U.S.-North Korea dialogue will lose its momentum. And I believe President Moon is fully aware of this."

Yang speculated finalizing the timing and the list of the envoys within this week will be optimal, in response to Trump's and Kim's announcements made last week.

Missions to break deadlock

During their talks in Washington, D.C., April 11, to discuss the post-Hanoi summit collapse, Trump said he is open to meeting Kim again.

Trump also asked Moon to share what the latter learns about the North's position, after Moon expressed his hopes to meet Kim for the fourth time.

In his address carried out by the Korean Central News Agency, April 13, Kim said before the Supreme People's Assembly that he is open to a third summit with Trump, only if the U.S. comes to talks with the right attitude.

Kim said he would wait "until the end of this year" for Washington to decide.

"Kim's stance puts Moon's nuclear diplomacy to the test. The special envoys to the North therefore should be ones who have served such roles in the past and can mediate between Moon and Kim," said Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong Global University.

Among the list of possible candidates include Cheong Wa Dae's National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon.

The two were part of Moon's special envoy twice out of the three times the two leaders met last year.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon is also touted as a possible candidate, although Cheong Wa De officials dismissed the speculation.

"It is likely President Moon will at least keep Chung and Suh," Yang said.

While the special envoys focused on preparations for the inter-Korean summits this year, their priority this time will be bridging the gap between Trump and Kim and helping the two sides resume negotiations.

"The fourth Moon-Kim summit will not be possible if no agreements are made on those points," Park said.

The analysts speculated as to whether Moon's proposal of a "good enough deal," which goes between Trump's "big deal" and Kim's "small deal," can be discussed.

They pointed out that unpredictable Trump, after stressing the "big deal" and sticking to sanctions, told Moon at one point that various smaller deals may still happen.

The "good enough deal" involves the U.S. and North Korea committing to a comprehensive agreement on peace, denuclearization and new relations.

NK, US leaders still attached to dialogue NK, US leaders still attached to dialogue 2019-04-14 16:13  |  Politics