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Can Moon Sell a Deal with North Korea to the Hawks, in the US and SK?

Recent Blog Posts - Sat, 2018-04-14 07:56
Can S Korean President Moon Sell a Deal with North Korea to the Hawks

This is a local re-post of an op-ed I wrote earlier this month for the Lowy Institute. Basically, I am wondering if Moon can get a deal with North Korea by South Korea’s  conservatives, especially in the press. I am skeptical.

It is worth noting in this regard that Moon and the Blue House have said almost nothing publicly about the talks with Kim Jong Un, specifically what the agenda might be or what proposals POTROK might make. Does anyone else find that vaguely alarming? Given all the big talk about settling the big issues of Korean, shouldn’t POTROK be floating some ideas out there for the public and analyst community to chew over? And Moon talked so much about improved transparency in government as a candidate.

It is worth remembering that when SK President Park Geun Hye negotiated the comfort women deal in a blackhole like this, she faced punishing public criticism when the deal was finally released. Moon will face the same backlash if he gives away a lot with little to no public input or warning. This is all very curious. I wish we knew a lot more about what Moon and Trump are considering offering up – USFK, the alliance itself, aid, sanctions relief, recognition? Everyone is guessing, because these two democratic governments aren’t telling anyone anything. Grr.

So below the jump are some ideas on how to get a deal passed Seoul conservatives who are increasingly suspicious of this whole thing.



Later this month, South Korean President Moon Jae-In will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. This is the third inter-Korean summit since the days of the Sunshine Policy – an approach of opening and dialogue toward North Korea from 1998 to 2008. This effort earned a Nobel Peace Prize, but previous liberal governments in South Korea struggled to show real successes. There were widespread complaints, from the right especially, that the Sunshine Policy was all South Korean concessions in exchange simply for a provocation halt. All North Korea gave up was its willingness to attack South Korea, and in exchange it received somewhere around three to four billion US dollars over a decade.

Overcoming this conservative skepticism at home will be Moon’s biggest hurdle. Moon won with only 41% of the vote. As a minoritarian president, whatever deal he brings home will be dissected in the conservative press, and there will likely be much analogizing of him to Neville Chamberlain and ‘peace in our time.’ Moon has not floated any proposals or talking points unfortunately, so we can only guess what he might focus on or give away, but here are some suggestions to slip this by the hawks:

1. Do not get derailed by all the North Korean efforts to change the subject away from its nuclear and missile programs.

Perhaps the heart of the skepticism from analysts everywhere about these summits is that North Korea would ever give up its nuclear program despite forty years of effort to build these weapons and the obvious deterrent utility – no American-led regime change is possible now – of keeping them. It is easy to predict that Kim will seek to discuss anything and everything but the nuclear missile program. There will be lots of suggestions for joint projects like sports teams at international games, economic cooperation, rail through North Korea, training of North Korean technical staff, family reunions, and so on. And lots and lots of nationalism with the subtle dig that the Americans stand between the two Koreas. Moon must nevertheless hook any movement on these pleasantries to some kind of controls on the nuclear missile program.

2. If the North Koreans will not discuss denuclearization, try nuclear safety.

I have floated this idea for the last month or so because of the likelihood that the North will balk on denuclearization and possibly walk out. Our goal, however unlikely, is CVID: complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament. The North Koreans will likely not move on that much if at all. Or they will ask for a concession so outrageous – the end of the US-South Korean alliance, e.g. – that Moon will have no choice but to say no. (Moon himself might be open to such a swap, as Lowy’s own Sam Roggeveen has floated too, but I doubt 41% Moon could get that past the right back home.) Indeed, John Bolton may be hoping for exactly this outcome: Moon demands CVID; the North Koreans laugh and walk out; and the Americans have their casus belli.

An alternative that keeps the discussion in the nuclear space, and avoids the subject-changing problem I mentioned above, is nuclear and missile safety. North Korea, besides being a horrible orwellian tyranny, is also a grossly mismanaged semi-feudal state. One can only imagine how sloppy and careless it is with nuclear materials. We already know their main test site suffered a tunnel collapse which killed two hundred people. So why not talk with them about issues like waste disposal, storage, site access, missile command and control, and so on to avoid a Chernobyl-style meltdown? That is a legitimate concern, one North Korea (and China) probably share, and keeps the conversation focused on the nuclear program.

3. Map out a Trump-Kim summit as best as possible.

The possible May summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump is an enormous risk for the democratic camp. I have argued vociferously in print, Twitter, and on TV for weeks that it should be cancelled. Trump has neither the knowledge of Korea, the willingness to learn (i.e., to read), the attention span, nor a clear preference for democracy over dictatorship to negotiate on behalf of democracy with a tyrant Trump may well secretly admire as he does so many other dictators. I am amazed the Moon government thinks it is a good idea to put someone like Trump in a room with their existential competition. Were it up to me, I would cancel the summit immediately.

But if Moon insists, then he should do the very best to nail down specific items and issues for that discussion. Naturally Kim and Trump, fellow norm-breakers, will violate those guidelines. So Moon should broadcast those very publicly so that Trump faces a public backlash if he veers wildly. It is easy to see Trump gambling away South Korean security for some small-beer outcome which he can market as a ‘win’ back home to change the subject from his endless scandals so that the Republicans survive this fall’s midterm elections so that Trump will not be impeached next year. It should be pretty obvious to everyone now that Trump makes decisions based on his narrow interest; he is certainly not thinking about the American national interest, much less a small ally’s.

4. Get the details.

Deals with North Korea in the past have collapsed over sequencing, implementation wiggle room, delays, and other such deep-in-the-weeds specifics. Moon should try his mightiest to nail down very specific moves and timetables. US officials used to complain of ‘buying the same horse twice’ from the North. After twenty-five years of negotiating with the North on nukes, it should be pretty clear to everyone that they are canny negotiators who will take a mile if you give them an inch.

This is does not mean Moon should negotiate in bad faith. Democracies should not do that; that is one of things that makes democracy morally superior to places like North Korea. But there should be enormous skepticism. A big-bang deal – swapping US troops for nukes is the most obvious – is a huge risk. Go slow. Get the North Koreans to agree to some mid-level proposals which can be overseen in some detail, and then let’s see if they actually stick to them. There is little strategic trust between North Korea, and South Korea and the US. Moon will be pilloried as Neville Chamberlain if he naively hopes that Kim is not of the same ilk as his family predecessors. Seven years into his reign there is little to suggest that he is some manner of reformer. Indeed the most remarkable part of his reign is just how little North Korea has changed despite the shotgun succession and all the international pressure. The North is still a human rights disaster, still a tyranny, still belligerent, still a trouble-making international rogue, still promoting a cult-like ideology, and still threatening South Korea. And on top of that, it is a nuclear missile state.

These prescriptions are admittedly hawkish. Perhaps too skeptical. But they channel the response Moon will receive here if he takes a huge leap later this month. Moon surely sees himself as Nixon going to China, rather than Chamberlain going to Munich. We can always hope of course. But that is not a strategy, and in the midst of all this year’s pleasant atmospherics, note that North Korea has yet to float one meaningful concession. It’s all just talk so far. Maybe Moon can change twenty-five years of nuclear North Korean history, but I doubt it.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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WiFi Router

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 05:13

WiFi router

Only used for a few months


Contact info: 010-6512-5522

Brand New Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 320

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 03:13
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Artwork: Vintage Halong Bay Night Painting H: 57cm / L: 87.5cm

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 03:13

This vintage painting features a soothing and relaxed setting focused on Halong Bay during a cloudy, moonlit night, with the boats reminding of a sense of adventure or industriousness. A painting that inspires.

This artwork will be useful for a person who wants a sweet, instant reminder of their great experiences travelling Vietnam or for a person looking to distinguish their room more.

Add this piece today and start enjoying the calmness and beauty it brings to your room. You won't regret it!

Price: 90,000 won

Contact: 010-4089-8009 (Message Only Please)



Language Exchange Friend Wanted

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Hi, my name is Atif. I am a based in Sinwol Dong, Seoul. I am looking to improve my Korean language skills. I am looking for a language exchange friend, who is able to meet up at least 3 times a week for 1 or 2 hours to practice my speaking ability. We can choose a meetup place,  that will be convenient for both of us.I am 31 years old and I can help improve your English skills very easily. I have plus 6 years of teaching English experience, so I will be able to help you out a lot.  Preference for someone that can keep a regular weekly time schedule and has some experience in teaching languages. Anyone interested can contact me on,Kakao: aj1786Instagram: jungleeshair Thank you.

Brown leather motorcycle jacket

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 01:13
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2-bedroom apartment near Pusan National University

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 01:13


Deposit - 5,000,000 won

Monthly rent - 450,000 won (Inclusive of management fee and internet fee)

There are 2 rooms separated from kitchen. The bedrooms are furnished with airconditioning units, beds, desk and closets. The kitchen is equipped with gas range, refrigerator, and smoke detector.

The unit is available for lease from April 2018.

Please contact me for more information.



Ryan Lord baby stroller (burgundy color)

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 01:13

I’m selling our Ryan Lord baby stroller. 

(We bought it in 2017 June)

Burgundy color. Rarely used, in a very good condition!

Extras: rain/wind cover + 4 season mattress (Bebenuvo) + bottle/phone holder 

Available only in Busan! No delivery! 


Price: 200.000 KRW

Surfers - Writers

Busan Classifieds - Sat, 2018-04-14 01:13

Busan's magazine, the Busan Beat, is looking for a writer to do a story on surfing scene in Busan. There is a small remuneration when the article is published. Please confirm your interest now with a  April 21 deadline for the article.

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Recent Blog Posts - Fri, 2018-04-13 23:09

Are you learning Korean solely through romanization?

What is romanization? Romanization is writing the Korean alphabet (한글) using English letters. For example, you might write 한글 as "hangul," "han-kul," or a variety of other ways depending on the romanization system. Some resources include romanization as a reference to check that you're pronouncing something correctly, but many learners mistakenly use romanization without ever using the actual alphabet. This can be detrimental to progress in the language, and I wanted to talk about why it can be so harmful through this video.

Check it out below~!

The post 3 Reasons to Avoid Romanization When Learning Korean appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

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Seoul, Busan, Suwan Positions

Busan Jobs - Fri, 2018-04-13 16:34

Hello. :) Nice greeting from Korea. We help you to find a position.

Please send us your RESUME with PHOTOS and answers for below questions by E-mail: atop2008@naver.com

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#180412-1 Seoul Gwangjin Position

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*Working days : Monday to Friday

*Teaching hours : 3:00pm ~ 7:00pm or 4:00pm ~ 8:00pm

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*No, of foreign teachers : 1

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#1201-3 Suwon Position (Gyeonggi Province) 

*Working days : Monday to Friday   

*Working hours: 9:00 am~6:00 pm.

*Teaching type : Kindergarten ~ Middle school students

*Monthly pay : 2.1~2.3 million won

*Housing : Single

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*Vacation : 5 days in summer & 5days in winter.                                               

*No, of teachers : 3

*benefits : airfare, severance pay, national health insurance.

Please send us your resume& photo by e-mail: atop2008@naver.com



Does the school pay monthly contributions into a Pension Plan? :  Yes Are you a licensed recruiter? :  Yes

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Busan News - Fri, 2018-04-13 14:12


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Licensed Teacher Seeking Full Time Job - August 2018

Busan Classifieds - Fri, 2018-04-13 11:13

Hello, my name is Becki Pochon.

I am an educator from Virginia in the United States. I have over 4 years teaching experience and a valid teaching license and I am 27 years old. I am interested in the areas of choir, band, music, and TESL. I would like to aquire a full time teaching job beginning in the month of August 2018. I am a qualified and energetic teacher and would be a wonderful addition to your staff. Since I am planning to live in South Korea permanently, I will be seeking only jobs that would allow me to have at least one entire month off during the summer months (beginning in summer 2019) in order to visit my family in the United States.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

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Geoje island , Gyeongsang province., start May 2018, elementary and middle

Busan Jobs - Fri, 2018-04-13 10:20

If you are interested in, please send your resume with photo to talknlearn1@gmail.com


-Location Geoje city, .

Start date: :May .2018

Salary per Month: 2.1~2.3 mil won
Completion bonus
Students Lever: elementary and middle

Class Schedule:1~9pm
Vacation Days: 10 days
Accommodation: single
Transportation: Airfare one way provided
Number of Foreign Teachers:1
Male//Female  :   :male

Health Insurance :50%Pension:50% Does the school pay monthly contributions into a Pension Plan? :  Yes Are you a licensed recruiter? :  Yes

Two English teaching positions available starting July 30th and Aug 30th.

Busan Jobs - Fri, 2018-04-13 10:08

KJC Allak-Dong is currently interviewing two postions for native teachers. Students are beginners to intermediate elementary. 

Pay is 2.2 million

Hours are 2:20-8:40

Six classes each 45 mins, mon-fri.

E2 support with standard housing. Couples will get additional housing supplement. 

Round trip flight tickets for someone currently abroad. One-way for teachers currently teaching in Korea. 

Email resume/pic to golfingtoday72@gmail.com

PLEASE, do not email if you are NOT a citizen from USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa. 


Does the school pay monthly contributions into a Pension Plan? :  Yes Are you a licensed recruiter? :  No

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Busan News - Fri, 2018-04-13 03:07


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Busan Namcheon) Full Time English Teacher June 1st 2018

Busan Jobs - Thu, 2018-04-12 21:23

Hello! My name is Sagal and I've been at Avalon for a few years!

We're looking some a new teacher, someone who is fun and energetic!


We have a team of five foreign teachers and a great group of Korean teachers.


Start: June 1st, 2018

Location: Namcheon, Busan - Great location! It's 5 minutes from both Gwang-an Beach and KSU area.


Hours: 2-10pm (except for 2 times a year during intensives)

30 teaching hours a week. (We usually do less than 26)

Benefits: All standard benefits provided (housing, pension, insurance, severance pay, etc.)

Vacations: 10 days, plus national holidays, which is pretty standard.

Students: From 1st grade elementary to 3rd-grade middle school. Our kids are pretty awesome!


**We are only looking for teachers already in Korea, who are available for an in-person interview. 


We are only accepting applications from the following countries:

USA, UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada.


**If you are interested in the position, please send your resume and a recent photo of yourself (this is standard for Korea) to Sagal at busanheadteacher@gmail.com for our review.


In your email be sure to state the following in the subject line:

Avalon English Applicant (Nationality/ Name/ Age)


Thank you, looking forward to hearing from you!

Does the school pay monthly contributions into a Pension Plan? :  Yes
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