Review 2017: North Korea, missiles and diplomacy

Review 2017: North Korea, missiles and diplomacy


North Korea as well as other foreign affairs
and national security related stories are what we’ll be focusing on next. To help us dissect all the events in those
realms that made 2017 unique we have our Defense correspondent Oh Jung-hee and Kwon Jang-ho
from the foreign ministry. Good to have you with us. Great to be here. We saw tensions on the peninsula brewing to
another level… with the change of leaderships in countries involved. And this is where you come in Jung-hee,..
what was the biggest North Korea story for 2017? Semin,… before that here are the numbers. North Korea conducted one nuclear test and
15 missile tests this year,… firing 20 missiles in total. That’s less than in 2016… but I’d say this
year’s provocations were bolder and more daring. If we look at last year’s missile launches,…
they had maximum range of 3,000 kilometers,… putting the U.S. territory of Guam within
reach. But this year, Pyongyang’s missiles reached
higher and higher altitudes. If fired at a normal trajectory, the latest
Hwasong-15 is seen to have gone a lot further… — up to 13 or 14-thousand kilometers — putting
whole continental United States within reach. After that test, Pyongyang claimed it was
a successful one… that the regime has completed its weapons program. But we can’t take the claim at face value
— many see there’re more to be proven… like the weight of nuclear warhead… and
the missile re-entry technology. The international community responded. Tightening the noose further. The United Nations adopting its strongest
ever sanctions on Pyongyang. Jangho, do give us a recap of how the world
tried and force a positive turnaround from the regime. There were three new UN resolutions on North
Korea this year. That’s the most in any single year. They’re also the strongest ever, and, to briefly
list you some of the sanctions… all coal exports from the regime have been
banned, as well as textiles, food products, iron and other metals and minerals. Imports of petroleum products was also slashed
by 90-percent, as well as a cap on crude oil. Dozens of individuals and firms have been
added to an international blacklist as well. Experts say we are starting to see some signs
they are having an effect within the regime – North Korean state media reports are also
warning the public to brace for difficulties – but so far it’s too early to tell how well
they are working, and with recent reports that say China and Russia have secretly been
supplying oil at sea there will be calls for the all parties to enforce them more strictly. Tension escalating to levels we’ve not seen
before. The President of the United States arguably
had a big hand in fanning the flames. Donald Trump came into office in January bringing
a lot of change. His brand of diplomacy towards North Korea
and its leader was… unlike any we’ve seen before. Yes very much so. One expert pointed out that there hasn’t been
this much talk of war since the Korean War itself in the 50’s. I mean, North Korea has always threatened
to destroy the U.S. and that is perhaps nothing new. But for the leader of the U.S. to promise
“fire and fury”, as Trump did earlier this year, IS unprecendented. However, I would point out that although tensions
have heightened, the general consensus is that we’re still very far away from an actual
all out conflict. There’s been lots of words, but no tangiable
movement as of yet. Jung-hee, in 2018, which direction are most
North Korean watchers leaning towards: More pressure from the international community
proving to be fruitful… or faster than before development of nuclear arsenal? Well, there’s speculation that the regime
could halt its provocations at least for a while… since it’s claimed the weapons program
is complete. And eyes are on Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech
to be released tomorrow… because it could give us a hint about what direction North
Korea would take next year. Experts that I’ve talked to think Kim could
declare the North a nuclear state… and try to start peaceful dialogue with surrounding
countries. But, if that fails… and the international
community holds on to tough sanctions against the regime,… it’ll only provoke the regime
for more provocative actions… like more tests of ICBMs or submarine-launched ballistic
missiles… or even a seventh nuclear test. (Korean)
“What the North calls a “completion” is actually about 90-percent complete, not a hundred percent. There’re more stages Pyongyang has to go through
to diversify its missiles and actually deploy them. The North could also go on to develop solid-fuel
missiles… and SLBMs.” Seoul’s role in perhaps reining in the regime
looks to change,… with the relatively young liberal administration. President Moon offered both carrot and stick
to Pyongyang,… while juggling a different style of diplomacy with the U.S. How do we anticipate things to shape up for
next year? When Moon Jae-in got to work at the top office,
there was an attempt to shift away from the previous government’s hardline stance. They tried to reach out to North Korea, offering
to open talks and provide aid, but they have all been rebuffed or simply ignored. If North Korea continues its provocations,
Seoul has said they will continue to push for further sanctions and pressure, but I
think we can also expect the Moon administration be bolder in their plans to engage with the
North as well. As Junghee said, we will have to watch Kim
Jong-un’s new year address, and other factors such as whether they decide to send athletes
for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics in February as well. While we have plenty of stories related to
the hermit kingdom this year…. there’s none more dramatic than the daring
crossing by a North Korean soldier. And it’s all caught on tape. Junghee do fill us in on the terrifying escape
that almost cost his life. We’ve seen North Korean soldiers defect to
the South by crossing through the military demarcation line several times in the past…. But indeed, that defection in November was
the most dramatic one. It happened at the Joint Security Area where
soldiers from the two Koreas stand face-to-face. Just to give our viewers a brief update,…
the soldier is alive — he’s going through the rehabilitation process… and he’s being
investigated by the military and intelligence authorities. Other than him, we saw three more soldiers
defect to South Korea by crossing over the inter-Korean border,… the most recent one
taking place just ten days ago. Pundits say this isn’t really a sign that
the Kim Jong-un regime is unstable… but just cases of defection happening intermittently
with soldiers who’ve caused problems within their units…
or who’ve been influenced by South Korea’s anti-Pyongyang broadcasts at the border. To better protect itself against the growing
threats from up North, Seoul deployed the THAAD anti missile system. Unfortunately, even if it was a choice made
out of necessity, the defense upgrade was perceived differently by China, leading to
frayed Seoul-Beijing relations. That’s right. The THAAD battery became fully operational
in early September after Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test. THAAD is a U.S.-made system capable of intercepting
incoming missiles from North Korea, which complements the current Patriot missile defense
system. China is worried the THAAD radar can gather
intelligence on its military, and so it’s been strongly opposed to it and has retaliated
all year long against South Korea for deploying the system. Beijing banned group tours and reduced flights
to South Korea… and imposed stricter customs regulations on South Korean products. And Lotte had to suffer the most. For offering the land to station the THAAD
battery,… businesses of 24 Lotte-owned companies came to a halt in China. South Korea and China agreed in late October
to put the row behind them… but it remains to be seen whether it’s truly
over… since China’s been quite capricious… in lifting and imposing ban on group tours
to South Korea. Taking a side step to talk about another variable
in the Northeast Asian diplomacy. Japan. One of the biggest stories of the year came
just this week. A special government task force released a
very critical review of the 2015 Seoul-Tokyo landmark deal on Japan’s wartime sex slavery
issue. Bilateral relationship is once again hanging
in the balance. That’s right, the main criticism was that
there was not enough involvement from the actual victims of the Japanese wartime sex
slavery themselves. President Moon described it as “deeply flawed”
and that follow-up measures need to be taken. The issue now is, what will those follow-up
measures be? Some have called for the agreement to be ripped
up, but Tokyo have stated they have no intention of renegotiating. There is so much friction currently that Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe may even snub Seoul’s offer to come to the Olympics next February. There doesn’t seem to be an easy fix to this,
and it will be a real test of the adminsitration’s diplomatic nuance to navigate this issue going
into 2018. But we always have to keep in mind the victims. There are only 32 publically registered survivors
alive today, and their average age is over 90. Seoul will be under pressure to find some
sort of resolution to bring them some peace, before its too late. Alright guys we look forward to more updates
on these situations in 2018. Jang-ho, Jung-hee, thank you for coming in
at this hour.

3 thoughts on “Review 2017: North Korea, missiles and diplomacy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *