EVENT TRANSCRIPT: HJS Report Launch: Negotiating the Peace: Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula
DATE: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm, 12th September 2018
VENUE: Committee Room 8, House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom
SPEAKER: Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Park Enna
Dr John Hemmings
Dr Tat Yan Kong
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo
EVENT CHAIR: Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: That goes without saying but I think it is (inaudible) that we want to see a settlement. And I keep saying to my Chinese friends, and I do a lot with China, ‘I wouldn’t want – if I were you – to have a rogue nuclear state on my doorstep. Cause while you think you might be able to control them, you never know exactly what somebody like Chairman Kim is ever going to do in certain circumstances. So, we got some very expert speakers here tonight. I think it is incumbent for us here what they got to say and I will introduce them in a minute. But may I welcome all of you to the House of Commons. It’s a great pleasure. That’s what we like doing in the House of Commons is to have people to have really serious discussions like this with important people like the Ambassador but also with our keen expert speakers so that hopefully by the end of the evening we all learn a little bit more about the historic origins of this dispute and I got relatives in my constituency in Gloucestershire who remember and fought in the Korean War so my roots go back in a long way with this. Margaret Thatcher stood on the line of control and dared to put her foot over as a demonstration of support to your country and the unification of the peninsula. Ever since then – there is no doubt about it – this country wants to play its full role in helping you in every way we possibly can. Not only to make your citizens feel safer in the environment they’re in but I think above all to make help the life a bit better in that very difficult place in the DPRK. So without any further ado I think it is my great duty and pleasurable duty to introduce the first of our speakers who I think is Dr John Hemmings.
Dr John Hemmings: You know, I think. I apologise but when you were away we reversed the order. We’re just trying to keep you on your toes. (inaudible)
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: So who is next?
Dr John Hemmings: A first question perhaps.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Have you had speakers?
Dr John Hemmings: We had our speakers and the Ambassador came second, I do apologise.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: You were supposed to start at 6.30.
Dr John Hemmings: I was trying to tell you but it was too far to my (inaudible) without getting you in your flow. However, we can go to Q&A now if you wish with perhaps the first question.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Alright. (inaudible)
Audience Member: Thank you very much, John. Can I thank all the speakers and in particular welcome the Ambassador to the UK and say how very much I endorse everything Sir Geoffrey has said about the fact that the speakers have already spoken. So I will just now – if I may – ask a question of the Ambassador and others if they want to comment. You touched on the importance of looking forward to hopefully one day the rebuilding of North Korea. Our group in particular – our all-party group here in Parliament – just focused in particular on issues of human rights and food sustainability in North Korea. What lessons can we learn from what happened in Burma where when the military controlled regime fell, many countries from across the world piled in to provide aid and support but a lack of coordination meant that there was often duplication and some disorder and waste and I wanted to ask the Abassador: Is any thought being given now because it’s only advanced planning that will avoid this, to how an international lead will be taken to avoid this in North Korea?
Ambassador Park Enna: Well, the rebuilding of North Korea (inaudible) we do not assume that rebuilding will be done upon the collapse of the North Korean regime and what we are trying to do id peaceful existence of two regimes, two countries in the Korean peninsula. So what we are aiming to achieve is gradual integration of North Korea with South Korean in terms of economy, in terms of in terms of social exchange and in terms of personal exchange. And you mentioned that there are huge numbers of separated families. It’s a big tragedy. (inaudible) that we allow free visit people living in a different side of Korea but it hasn’t been that we open up our border. So, unification, we do not seek any unification through artificial way and as a result of gradual integration we may, someday, we may talk about an arrangement how to achieve unification. So what I am talking is we are not envisioning that a sudden collapse of the regime and gradual change of the way we’re thinking and the way of our behaviour and we should induce North Korea to be a responsible member of the international community. That’s what we are aiming for.
Audience Member: Thank you, that’s very helpful. Perhaps I should have been clearer. I was speaking for example of Infrastructure, of systems relating to water, health systems, farming, and interesting to know that there are many companies outside North Korean thinking to jump in and I don’t know whether any of the other panel members have any thoughts on how this can be planned for in an equitable and organised way through the international community.
Ambassador Park Enna: That is the task we have to (inaudible) And I don’t think North Korea wants – if they decided to change the way they conduct their business – they will not open their society for investment. So they will have very eminent, they will take a very cautious approach, step-by-step approach. And the international society, we also, I mean give full thought on how to induce North Korea, how to open up North Korean in a more reasonable and comfortable way for both North Korean and the international society.
Audience Member: Thank you!
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Does any member of panel at any question, does any member of the panel have a particular comment, maybe not all members of the panel and all questions else we never get through, but does any member have a particular comment?
Dr John Hemmings: May I just jump in – one sentence – because I think it is a really good question. How would we- So in this study we see that this organising process being a long way from this. But your question is quite right. I imagine South Korea has to lead that process with OCHA and the UN and the IMF and the World Bank. Obviously Japan with its abductees issues would have to settle its score. But something that would have to come I think at least in a significant way after disarmament begun, but you are right. It must be done.
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo: I mean there is one specific example, North Korea has a very poor trauma, health-care system, right? Probably you remember right before the summer, this bus of Chinese tourists had a crash and a lot of them died and the problem was not the accident but the traumatical system was very poor, right? So as a result of that the North Koreans are reaching out to the UN agencies and they are reaching out to medical schools around the world for example Harvard Medical School: How do we build a trauma system? Because as someone has mentioned before, the tourist thing was covered by sanctions (inaudible) so there will be tourists coming in, workers coming in, but if you are going to die of an accident you don’t want to go to North Korea. So what they are doing – I know for a fact that they are reaching out to medical schools across and they are reaching out to the United Nations: How can we build this up, right? A lot of their current work is with the current sanctions for them(?), because even the transfer of medical equipment to North Korea, I mean if you look at the sanctions for them(?) part of the medical equipment couldn’t be transferred to North Korean. Some of the parts – if they are only for medical use and they cannot be used for the nuclear programme – then they are fine but this is very difficult to define right? But going back to your question. There is work being done in North Korea on this (inaudible).
Audience Member: Thank you!
Dr Tat Yan Kong: You mentioned food sustainability. Well, food sustainability – how much they have to eat depends a lot on fertiliser availability, especially from South Korea during the period of the sunshine policy, delivery of fertiliser had a big impact on North Korean agricultural output. But even after the introduction of sanctions in response to the resumption of nuclear testing in the last few years, actually the North Koreans managed to develop alternatives to chemical fertilisers. But ultimately for food sustainability North Korea would actually have to give this idea of being able to produce enough food for itself and actually make a structural change in its economy towards importing food by exporting manufactures or something else like the transition South Korea made in the 1960s.
Audience Member: Thank you very much indeed. My question actually-
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Could we just have a house rule. It’s very helpful if we all know who everybody is. So could everybody before they ask a question preface it with their name. That would be really helpful.
Audience Member: The name is Ewan Grant, Institute of Statecraft. I am a regular traveller through (inaudible). I am very much hoping, Ambassador, that I am in Stirling in Scotland at the end of the next week. I very much hope I can get up there someday and visit the (inaudible) where if it’s still there – I haven’t been for many years – you see a very powerful painting Major Bure (?) and his colleagues in the Busan parameter. It’s a very powerful painting. Of course they were killed by friendly fire not Republic of Korea friendly fire. My question following from Doctor Kong is: the hope for reconstruction and development of the North Korean economy – given the qualities of your people there is a high chance that it will be a success – what are the likelihoods what’s going to happen. What do you think could happen to the military-industrial complex, in particular the armed forces of the North. Are they going be absorbed into a thriving economy or is there a danger than in quality or quantity or both they will become a highly skilled and very efficient foreign legion for higher and dodgier parts of the world. I mean how can it absorb this massive, unproductive sector. Could it be without serious growing pains?
Dr Tat Yan Kong: Well, I suppose by making it productive. In North Korea, there is a lot of reconstruction, physical reconstruction going on and a lot of that reconstruction is actually done by soldiers. So the soldiers, they are 18,19,20 years but they are not well-fed so they look like they’re 15,14. But it seems that much of the military forces is actually used for fighting disasters, reconstruction, helping farmers. As for the military-industrial complex, I presume you mean the munitions industry. North Korea used to be a major seller of arms to Third World. I think we have to think about Kim Jong Un’s March announcement of the economy first. What that means is transferring more resources to from the munition industry to the civilian industries. And I think the North Koreans, the reason why they developed nuclear weapons was because actually they couldn’t compete in terms of conventional weapons anyway. So in a way the development of nuclear weapons was actually to get out of this expensive conventional weapons arms race in which they cannot match the South Koreans and the United States.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Any other members of the panel wishing to comment on that?
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo: Very briefly maybe that there is a social change going on in North Korea so I think it’s very interesting because if you look at the level of desertion in the North Korean military has gone up dramatically because in this day and age if you want to be a successful North Korean, you have to be successful in the market. Before, you had to join the military and you went to the military and could feed your family. This day and age, if want to feed your family, if you want to have a marriage to the right person, you need to be successful in the market. So I think, building on the previous points, which I completely agree, is the fact that the military-industrial complex itself is being undermined by the young North Koreans who don’t want to join the military because they say: ‘What’s the point? I am not being fed. I have to go through this hard labour and can’t be in the market, where I can actually make money so I cannot buy South Korean DVDs in North Korea. So I think it’s being undermined as we speak (inaudible) reports from the ground from North Korea, right? And they have been reporting on this for a while, the fact that the military is not the path to riches that it used to be. So people have moved beyond and this is already undermining the military-industrial complex that you were referring to. And yes, there is an anecdote that there were even people very highly in the military like generals for example, they are in the market or their family members are in the market or are actually telling they own family members: ‘Look, don’t join the military because there is no future here. Or if you join the military make sure you have your wife in the market making money (inaudible) So that’s a big change actually taking place.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Ambassador.
Ambassador Park Enna: I mean, experts already got answers for your question but I would like to add that the huge military-industrial complex in North Korea is actually the outcome of their military first policy. And now they are trying to change. They want to focus on economic development. Once we successfully achieve lasting peace-mechanism on the peninsula, then, I mean, the resources will be shifted from military-industrial complex to the civilian economy side.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Who has the next question?
Audience Member: My name is Omar. I study at King’s College. I had the opportunity to travel to North Korea this summer and I came back with so many more questions than before when I came in.I really love this and I think it’s a great work and I would like to ask you a more academic perspective about your methodology and also if you can do any fieldwork in there, in the North Korea. But also if you reached out to the North Korean embassy in London and what would be their response and their perspective.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Ambassador, do you want to start with that? What fieldwork has your country or anyone else undertaken.
Ambassador Park Enna: I don’t think- I mean (?) they offer field trips to foreign students, especially Western side and if you go there you have to take risks. You are on risk. No government actually encourages you to go there to some field trip. At this moment, it’s not advisable to be there for a fieldtrip, but you know, in a few years I hope that you can apply for field trips and that the North Korean embassy here may grant you permission. So at this moment I don’t think it’s feasible.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Does anyone want to add to that?
Dr John Hemmings: In terms of just our project, this project is not a study of North Korea. It’s a bit of a weird. It’s a study of the North Korean crisis. So there is a big difference. We didn’t go to North Korea and they wouldn’t let us in, especially me. But I have done some academic writing on North Korea and everybody does it – and I’m sure Ramon will agree with me entirely – it’s extremely difficult knowing in academia – and think that’s easy because we are so far from our subject and we’re using often the same sources, the same, often South Korean academics who’ve got contacts in the North. There is some. For example, CSIS’ Victor Cha’s whole data, which is really rare to have actual data on influence of South Korean culture in the North. But this project, our methodology was semi-academic, quasi-academic. We panelled a closed-door group of about six experts. Each person was given a different country and said: ‘You’re the Japan-guy. What does Japan want to achieve in a crisis? What are their objectives and are they achieving that? Like what have they done and how are they doing it to achieve that diplomatically. What are the kind of points of leverage in the situation they seek? And then ultimately in the analysis chapter what should they do: get out of the way, don’t spoil, you know, in terms of the bigger picture. So we had six experts all feed into that process and then the three of us really edited what they said with their permission and then the analysis and conclusion were our own.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Dr Hemmings, in North Korea all-party group, we’ve given a platform to people who have managed to escape from the North and gone to the South and gone to United States and even come here. And I think there are some 20’000+ escapees currently in South Korea and will give first hand testimonial what life was like in North Korea, what they had to escape and how difficult it was to escape. So I think we have quite a lot of contemporary evidence of exactly what life is like in North Korea. And there has been quite a lot written by them and by other people, other academics. If you wanted to read the subject, there is a plenty out there of what North Korea is really like.
Dr Ramon Pacheco Pardo: I mean I think there are two aspects. This aspect you can actually research and Daily NK is the website I have forgotten before. They also have polls. Our CSIS North Korea (inaudible) amazing work they do with Dr Cha. If you want to know what the government does, to claim you know what the government does, nobody could really know North Korea (inaudible) the government thinks this and that. I mean you can meet with government officials. Sometimes they give public speeches. You have track one and you have track two. You know, you sit with them for dinner and they tell you blablabla. But then do you believe them? Right? I met with a North Korean who was asking about the independence movement in Catalonia and I said, ‘Well, I want to talk on North Korea’ but he doesn’t want to talk about North Korea he was asking me after Spain. And they kept talking about Real Madrid. And I was like ‘Right, what am I doing here?’ So but I am sure you can get the official view of the government and say ‘Well, is this what they really think? What can I interpret? They will want (inaudible) you have all the refugees, people leaving North Korea, maybe now they will talk to the merchants that are between China and North Korea. Chinese Koreans, North Koreans, South Koreans who claim they are Chinese Koreans as well. They are in the border region. So you can do that. You have to spend your time.
Dr John Hemmings: And journalists. There is a great – is it North Korea Watch? – Chadow Caroll (?) who is good Briton. He has collected a group of journalists in his orbit who feed him information and all of them go fairly regularly to North Korea. And in fact I am on their WhatsApp group so I’m constantly seeing their chit-chat and my hair is going whiter and whiter.
Dr Tat Yan Kong: And you can also talk to members of the political service who have served in North Korea. South Korean economists who regularly work on North Korea, regularly visit China, North East China, the area adjacent to North Korea because they think that gives them an indication of the health in the North Korean economy.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: The other thing we did in the group was many year campaigned for the BBC world service to be able to broadcast and we got them funding and it’s really as much contact in any way we can have with the North Koreans so that they know what’s going on in the rest of the world is really helpful. So that is not reason for you to go there as the Ambassador says without permission. Who’s got the next question? Oh, lots of questions. Yes, you?
Audience Member: Thank you for your talk. My name is Sammy Kim. I am student at King’s College London. I am think about in order to solve the denuclearisation North Korea presses, what North Korea wants and what the US wants is completely different. For example, denuclearisation is a process whereas a peace treaty is final and definite. So and the South Korean government says that there should be a simultaneous approach but it’s a bit confusing because it’s completely different. Is there a way to make sort of make the level of it even or make it a really simultaneous execution?
Ambassador Park Enna: Your view is that in a sense right. But denuclearisation, it’s a process but at the same time, complete denuclearisation is the final product of the process. So we have two final products to achieve. One is complete denuclearisation and peace-mechanism on the peninsula. So the way to the complete denuclearisation and the way to the peace mechanism on the peninsula. Those are the process. Here the question is how to sequence it and the measures to be taken by the United States the measures to be taken by North Korea and the first stage here, sequencing very much important because both sides, they don’t want to make a big secession. They want to maximise their gains and it comes from their deep mistrust. They are afraid if they take a first step, they might be cheated. So we are trying to find some way to sequence these initial steps. So the initial steps to be taken by North Korea is submitting the list of their nuclear programme, their nuclear facilities and their nuclear weapons. And the initial step to be taken by the United States along South Korea and possibly with China a declaration to end the Korean War. And the declaration is a political gesture as a way to build trust. It doesn’t have anything to do with the US troops, the US-RoK alliance. It just to give some signal to North Korea that we are negotiating in good faith. It doesn’t change the reality. But the measures to be taken by North Korea which is the submission of the list, actually it undermines its nuclear capabilities. So here there is some imbalance. So it is very difficult for North Korea to just submit their list in return for the paper. So we, our president will meet Chairman Kim next week and well, let’s see. That’s why in my present field, this mission is so important and critical. And at the initial stage, if we successfully sequence the initial measures, then it will make a huge achievement in trust building. Once we started to build trust between the United States and North Korea, then the next step will be somewhat easier. So let’s see.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: I think just in case to explain in anyone isn’t aware anymore the end of the Korean War there was a truce signed but not a peace treaty. So here after the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles ended the First World War
Ambassador Park Enna: Technically we are still at war but in reality ended. So we are now saying that the war ended. So that is the purpose of the declaration.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Next question. Yes you, Sir. Oh, you wanted to come back.
Dr John Hemmings: No I think we have to finish because we started at 6.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Right.
Dr John Hemmings: So some people may want to.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP: Right. I am sadly under instructions that we have to finish. So may thank you all very much for coming. I’m sure this something we all want to consider again another day but particularly on your behalf thank the Ambassador. We really are grateful to you giving up your busy time to give us what was in the time I was here – I’m sorry I was late, my diary told me it was half past 6 but it was six, but nevermind. Your insight was fascinating, particularly on the sequencing. I didn’t have the benefit of our experts Dr John Hemmings and Dr Kong and Dr Pardo but I am sure their contributions in their speeches were extremely interesting. So can I thank the panel. Thank all of you for coming and have a really good evening. Thank you very much.