[연구진 동정] 봉영식 전문연구원 - Winter Olympics: Is window for US-N Korea peace closing? (BBC NEWS)

최종 수정일: 2020년 8월 4일

Image copyright Ed Jones/Getty Image caption Protesters in Seoul called for peace talks between the US and North Korea in November


They were called the "peace Olympics", but let me tell you, there was no peace in Pyeongchang.

There was a constant cacophony from the crowds inside and outside the stadiums. An atmosphere of excitement and wonder at what medals could be won.

In contrast, the huge diplomatic efforts surrounding the Winter Games are discussed in uncertain whispers.

Did you see North Korean President Kim Jong-un's sister? Do you think the South Korean president will go to Pyongyang? What could happen next?

South Koreans have endured over 60 years of dramatic ups and downs with the North and have learned to speak quietly about any hopes of a breakthrough.

But there now appears to be a small window of opportunity - the first in many years. But it may not last long.

North Korea is sitting down regularly with the South, and did not walk away when the subject of nuclear weapons arose. The South Korean Unification Minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, made that clear to me.

"We did convey the message to North Korea multiple times that in order to improve relations between the two countries we need to see a denuclearisation of the peninsula," he said. "It is necessary that North Korea talk to the United States to solve this in a peaceful manner."

North Korea has also announced it is willing to talk to the US.

But what does America want to do?

"We want to talk," US President Donald Trump said on Monday, but then he added: "only under the right conditions." He failed to specify what those conditions were.

Then, just hours later came a potential problem. Joseph Yun, one of the US state department's most experienced diplomats on North Korea announced his decision to retire.

He told reporters that "the time was right" and denied that it had anything to do with differences on White House policy. Analysts believe Joseph Yun was very much in favour of compromise and diplomacy.

His departure could handicap the Trump administration's progress with North Korea just as Pyongyang has made the rare decision to take part in talks.



Image copyright Toru Yamanaka/Getty

Image caption Joseph Yun leaves his post as a US special representative for North Korea policy without a successor

Professor John Delury from Yonsei University in Seoul said this was a bad sign.

"Why is he retiring without a replacement? Any self-respecting CEO would not allow a key member of staff to resign without announcing their replacement. It's standard business practice."

Building even the crudest relationship with North Korea is difficult and will take expert handling. And right now, the Trump administration has failed to nominate a US ambassador to South Korea, let alone a point man on North Korea.