Growing Threats and Shifting Policies on the Korean Peninsula

President Park Geun-hye began her term in 2013 with high hopes, or at least plans for engaging North Korea to resolve the nuclear issue as well as appealing to China for assistance in reining in its recalcitrant ally. Instead, Park nears the end of her tenure having reversed herself after both policies failed to achieve their objectives. Progressives still urge Park to turn the South Korean cheek yet again in another feckless attempt at negotiating with Pyongyang. But the president remains resolute in her determination to now impose penalties on North Korea for its serial violations of UN resolutions and defiance of the international community. Park had devoted considerable political capital in ingratiating herself to China, even as she shunned a summit with Japan, only to have President Xi Jinping refuse to even answer her phone call after Pyongyang’s January 2016 nuclear test. She has found that North Korean policy cannot go through Beijing, but it requires new emphasis on the ROK-US alliance as part of a realignment of policy in 2016.

The United States had welcomed Park’s election, given her long track record of support for the bilateral alliance and advocacy of conditionality when engaging North Korea. Some concerns subsequently arose in Washington over Park’s prioritization of history issues with Japan, perceived tilt toward Beijing, and initial reluctance to resist Chinese pressure against improving allied missile defenses. But North Korean actions and Chinese inactions toward Pyongyang eventually overcame these temporary strains, tightening ties significantly in 2016.

The January nuclear test was an inflection point that triggered a fundamental realignment in Seoul’s policy toward Pyongyang. Senior South Korean officials privately comment that Park will remain steadfast in imposing punitive measures on North Korea during the remainder of her term. Foreign Minister Yun Byun-se was dispatched to secure agreement by other countries to sever their relations with North Korea, further isolating the regime.

Park now faces the last year of her administration with tenuously improved relations with Japan, a rapidly escalating North Korea threat, a Chinese government timorously reluctant to pressure Pyongyang, and South Korean trepidation over America’s presidential election that has exacerbated concerns over US capabilities and resolve to defend South Korea.

South Korean Outreach to North Korea: A Review

Kim Dae-jung seeking change through Sunshine: President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy” of engagement was defined by two principal goals: inducing economic and political change in North Korea and moderating regime behavior. Kim postulated that if South Korea provided economic benefits and acted non-confrontationally, North Korea would perceive a reduced threat and eventually reciprocate. By the end of his term, however, he faced strong domestic criticism over his one-sided engagement policy. Indeed, Kim’s reputation was tarnished by the disclosure that his administration had paid USD 500 million to attain the 2000 inter-Korean summit, an event for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kim believed that Pyongyang’s sole rationale for possessing nuclear weapons was to initiate “direct dialogue with the US [to] discuss security assurances, lifting of economic sanctions, and normalization of relations.” He argued that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons once it received a security assurance from the United States.1 In reality, both the Clinton and Bush administrations provided such assurances, but Pyongyang did not abandon its nuclear weapons.

Kim was convinced that the Six-Party Talks would succeed because North Korea “does not have any reason to insist on the possession of nuclear weapons since the United States has responded to the North’s requests for direct dialogue.” He predicted that by the end of the Bush administration in 2008, the nuclear negotiations would be successfully concluded, along with a formal treaty ending the Korean War and the establishment of full diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang. Instead, the Six-Party Talks collapsed in 2008 because Pyongyang refused to fulfill its obligation to provide a complete and correct declaration on its nuclear programs and balked at a verification agreement.

Roh Moo-hyun’s extortion-based foreign policy: President Roh Moo-hyun abandoned any pretense of seeking North Korean reform. Instead, he pursued unconditional outreach that ran counter to the Six-Party Talks precepts of conditionality and reciprocity. During a May 2006 trip to Mongolia, Roh declared that he was willing to make “many concessions,” including providing unconditional aid, in return for an inter-Korean summit.2 These comments were contrary to his vows to condition a summit on North Korea’s return to and progress in the Six-Party Talks.

Roh returned from the 2007 inter-Korean summit openly admitting his one-sided acquiescence to North Korean demands. “We very naively thought reforms were a good thing,” he stated, “and that we could reform the North with Kaesong (joint industrial development project). We were wrong…. We should try to avoid making such misunderstanding by not going on and on about reform and opening up to North Koreans.”3 He directed that the Ministry of Unification remove any reference to “reform” on its website or in South Korean policy statements. During a 2008 interview, Roh explained:

[A]t the Six-Party Talks we supported the North Korean position as much as we could. At international conferences, when remarks critical of North Korea arose, we argued for North Korea with as much logic as we could. We avoided as much as we could statements provoking North Korea. Sometimes, we had to endure even if our pride was hurt. We did this all to secure trust [with North Korea]. Of course, North Korea did not pay us back quickly. But by doing so, North–South relations expanded greatly.4

Roh was determined to engage Pyongyang—regardless of North Korean behavior. The Roh administration proudly announced that inter-Korean economic activity increased in the fourth quarter of 2006, despite the North’s nuclear test that October. Rather than hold Pyongyang accountable, the Roh administration blamed Washington for triggering the North Korean nuclear crisis, denying US intelligence reports of North Korean nuclear weapons developments.

Despite hundreds of inter-Korean meetings and USD 6.95 billion in cash, aid, and developmental assistance provided by South Korea over 10 years,5  Pyongyang did not reform its economy, alter its political system, or abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

Lee Myung-bak implementing a principled engagement policy: President Lee Myung-bak  (2009-2012) declared that his policy toward North Korea would be markedly different from those of his predecessors. Lee vowed to maintain South Korea’s engagement policy but South Korean-provided economic, humanitarian, and political benefits would be conditioned on tangible progress toward North Korean denuclearization and implementation of political and economic reforms.6 Lee would provide benefits so long as North Korea took steps along the path to denuclearization. It did not require, as often depicted by progressive critics, complete denuclearization before any benefits would be provided. Lee offered to boost North Korean per capita income to USD 3,000 in 10 years, establish five free trade areas, establish 100 manufacturing companies, educate 300,000 North Korean workers, and create a USD 40 billion international fund to develop the North Korean economy.7

Predictably, North Korea responded harshly to Lee’s policy changes since it had become accustomed to unconditional South Korean largesse. South Korean progressives also criticized Lee’s policy and blamed all subsequent North Korean provocations, including the deadly attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, on what they characterized as a “hard-line” policy. Yet, in return for massive benefits, Lee asked only that Pyongyang abide by the many denuclearization agreements the regime had already signed.

Park Geun-hye’s Trustpolitik Strategy

Park Geun-hye’s 2013 presidential inauguration came amidst rising concerns over regional security threats, punctuated by North Korea’s third nuclear test only weeks earlier. Park’s election was reassuring to Washington given her opponent Moon Jae-in’s vow to return to Roh Moo-hyun’s unconditional engagement policy toward Pyongyang.8 Moon, like Roh, believed Seoul should provide extensive economic benefits without any requirement for the regime to institute reform, moderate its aggressive behavior, or uphold its denuclearization commitments.9 Moon had pledged to uphold Roh’s promises made during the 2007 inter-Korean summit to provide billions of dollars worth of construction projects. To prevent future North Korean attacks, Moon vowed to resurrect Roh’s proposal to turn the West Sea into a peace zone and joint economic development zone, abandoning claims of sovereignty upheld since the end of the Korean War.10

Park Geun-hye distanced herself from Lee’s North Korea policy due to her predecessor’s declining popularity. Yet, a close reading of her strategy showed greater continuity than change. She stated that South Korea could resume humanitarian assistance and discuss initial economic development proposals, both conditioned on tangible progress toward denuclearization and economic reforms. She characterized her new policy as trustpolitik to “assume a tough line against North Korea sometimes and a flexible policy open to negotiations other times.” Park advocated a step-by-step trust-building process with North Korea that was “premised on the underpinnings of unshakeable security.”11

Building on a foundation of strength:Park emphasized that her trustpolitik policy “is not a conciliation policy. It is based on strong deterrence.” Therefore, South Korea must first establish robust military capacities necessary to deter further North Korean attacks. She pledged to deter North Korean provocations by “strengthening comprehensively our military capabilities” and “our deterrence capabilities in order to neutralize North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats” with “a strong South Korea–US alliance.” She also vowed to resolutely defend the Northern Limit Line “that has been secured through the ultimate sacrifice of our soldiers.”12

The president made clear that she would respond decisively and exponentially to any new North Korean attacks. She emphasized, “it is important that there should be stern punishment for reckless provocations so as to break the vicious cycle.”13 South Korea must “show Pyongyang that the North will pay a heavy price for its military and nuclear threats. This approach…must be enforced more vigorously than in the past.”14

Moving forward with dialogue: Based on a foundation of credible deterrence, Park offered Pyongyang an incremental trust-building process characterized by conditional benefits and dialogue. If North Korea responded positively, the Koreas could expand engagement to work toward long-term unification. If trust could be established—and progress made toward denuclearization—Park offered to:

  • provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea while promoting mutually beneficial economic, social, and cultural exchanges;
  • pursue “Vision Korea Projects” in tandem with the international community to build an economic community on the Korean Peninsula, advance membership in international financial institutions, and attract foreign investment;
  • assist North Korean electric power, transportation, communication, and other infrastructure projects;
  • improve the livelihood of North Korean citizens through medical and health services, agriculture, forestation, and climate change projects;
  • internationalize the Kaesong Free Industrial Zone and jointly develop mineral resources;
  • initiate mutually reinforcing political–military confidence-building measures;
  • work toward setting up a “South–North Exchange and Cooperation Office” in Seoul and Pyongyang; and
  • meet with the new North Korean leader, although such “a summit must involve an honest dialogue on issues of mutual concern.”15


Park described her vision as a “dining room table strategy” in which there are a “variety of good, tasty dishes on the table that North Korea can enjoy if it gives up the nuclear program.”16 North Korea will be given opportunities and assistance if it acts as a responsible member of the international community. However, if the North “pours cold water, it will affect our approach.”17

Inducing change in North Korea: A significant difference between the policies of Park and Roh was that Park saw the best chance for success was in “steering North Korea on the path of meaningful change.”18 Eschewing the progressive party’s unwillingness to confront Pyongyang over its horrendous human rights violations, Park advocated that Seoul pass a North Korean human rights bill to encourage significant improvement in North Korea’s humanitarian and human rights conditions.

Park Advocates for Korean Unification

Park also made Korean unification a central tenet of her foreign policy strategy. Like previous presidents, she sought dialogue with Pyongyang to defuse tensions, deter attacks, and improve bilateral relations. But more so than her predecessors, she made reunification a tangible short-term, rather than esoteric long-term, objective. Korean unification could be equated to Waiting for Godot—the farcical play by Samuel Beckett in which Godot never arrives, despite frequent discussions about him. Park held out hope for a soft landing scenario of gradual reconciliation and integration based on increasing reform and transformation of North Korea—a gradual meeting in the middle between the Koreas. That is unlikely since Kim Jong-un, like his predecessors, has made it emphatically clear that he has no interest in implementing political or economic reform or moderating the regime’s belligerent behavior. In any case, North Korea became so frustrated with speculation about reform under Kim Jong-un that it denounced such suggestions as “the height of ignorance. To expect policy change and reform and opening from [North Korea] is nothing but a foolish and silly dream…There cannot be any slightest change in all policies.”19

Inter-Korean social engagements and measures to push information into North Korea might have a corrosive effect on the regime, but they would require decades of sustained effort. Even large-scale economic engagement has not worked. The Kaesong joint economic venture failed in its original purpose to induce economic and political reform and moderate North Korea’s foreign and security policies.

Pyongyang shuns trustpolitik:North Korea rebuffed Park’s trustpolitik policy since the regime fears opening its economy and political systems to the contagion of outside influence. Political controls have tightened rather than loosened under Kim Jong-un. It rejected her Dresden Declaration,20 declaring that Seoul should stop “prattling on and dreaming about” unrealistic unification proposals. The regime derided Park as “dreaming a foolish dream of achieving unification through absorption, venomously swishing her skirt in a bid to make troubles wherever she went. Her harangue about support for the North’s economic development is so ridiculous as to make even a cat laugh.”21 In his 2016 New Year’s Day speech, Kim Jong-un denounced South Korea’s goal of “regime change [and] unification of systems” as well as for fanning inter-Korean distrust and confrontation.22

Unification appears to be possible only with a dramatic change, such as the death of Kim Jong-un or other catalyst to regime collapse—in other words, a hard landing. Some of these more violent scenarios would be a revolution from below, a coup or power struggle leading to regime change/collapse, or outside intervention during a crisis. They were made a priority under Park, as engagement remained the primary objective through 2015 amid rising talk of reunification.

Engagement Hopes Soar…then Plunge

In what is now an annual rite on the Korean Peninsula, 2015 dawned with some experts perceiving signals that North Korea sought to resurrect diplomatic ties with the United States and South Korea. Kim Jong-un declared in his 2015 New Year’s Day speech that it was possible to “resume the suspended high-level contacts and hold sectoral talks if the South Korean authorities are sincere in their stand towards improving inter-Korean relations through dialogue…And there is no reason why we should not hold a summit meeting if the atmosphere and environment for it are created. Yet his speech contained the prerequisite that the United States and South Korea would have to first end their combined military exercises. Kim declared, “There can be neither trustworthy dialogue nor improved inter-Korean relations in such a gruesome atmosphere in which war drills are staged against the dialogue partner.”23 As Nodong Shinmun media affirmed, “Unless the South and the United States stop their nuclear war games aimed at a northward invasion, it is clear that no talks between the two Koreas or between North Korea and United States can progress.”24 The North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations hinted that “many things were possible” if the military exercises were cancelled this year.25

Seoul and Washington correctly rejected the proposal. Canceling the combined exercises would have degraded US and South Korean deterrence and defense capabilities necessitated by North Korea’s previous attacks; forward-deployed military forces; and repeated threats of attacks, including nuclear strikes on the United States and its allies. North Korea’s offer was illegitimate since Pyongyang was attempting to barter over something it does not legitimately possess. Numerous Security Council (UNSC) resolutions preclude North Korea from conducting any nuclear or ballistic missile tests. By proposing that it receive a benefit for not testing nuclear weapons, North Korea sought to be rewarded for doing what it was already obligated to do under UNSC resolutions. Pyongyang subsequently made its offer of dialogue contingent on Seoul preventing its citizens from sending leaflets via balloons into North Korea, and revoking sanctions imposed in May 2010 after Pyongyang sank a South Korean naval ship, killing 46 sailors.

By late February 2015, hopes of improved inter-Korean relations and a diplomatic resolution to the North Korean nuclear problem had, once again, dissolved. Pyongyang abandoned its charm offensive and instead threatened to wage a “merciless, sacred war” against the United States. Then the regime shut the door on dialogue completely. Kim Jong-un declared in February, “We are unwilling to sit down with mad dogs anymore who keep howling that they are going to use the method of change to bring down our socialist system.”26 The National Defense Commission avowed, “It is the decision of the army and people of the DPRK to no longer have the need or willingness to sit at the negotiating table with the US [Also] it is only too apparent that no major change or transformation could be achieved in inter-Korean relations even if we were to sit down a thousand times with such government officials.”27

Landmine crisis triggers dialogue: In August 2015, North Korean soldiers sneaked across the DMZ and planted land mines on the South Korean side, which maimed two South Korean soldiers. Seoul resumed propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ, which led to an exchange of artillery fire, raising the potential for a broader military clash. North and South Korea subsequently reached an agreement to defuse rising tensions. The vaguely worded agreement allowed both Koreas to claim they had achieved what they wanted. But, it was not encouraging that Pyongyang subsequently denied its expression of regret for the landmine incident, claiming instead that the South “learned a serious lesson [for its] unilateral fabrication of an incident.”28

In return for the North Korean act of non-contrition, Seoul ceased its propaganda broadcasts while Pyongyang agreed to suspend its “quasi-state of war” and subsequently allowed resumption of separated family reunions.

Breakdown of the inter-Korean talks:As a result of the August agreement, North and South Korean vice ministers met in December 2015 at the Kaesong joint economic venture to develop a plan to reduce military tensions and expand economic cooperation. The talks foundered, however, over the inability to even reach consensus on an agenda. North Korean representatives insisted on discussing only the resumption of the Kumgang-san tourist venture, a special region in North Korea for South Korean tourists, which was a cash cow for the regime. South Korea called for standardizing family reunions and addressing North Korean denuclearization. Pyongyang subsequently declared that “prospects of North-South relations became even bleaker.”29

“Treasured sword” not a bargaining chip:The collapse of yet another iteration of inter-Korean dialogue demonstrated that Pyongyang was unwilling to compromise on core objectives, despite the resultant forfeiture of potential economic largesse. Through words and actions, North Korea has made clear that it has no intention of abandoning the nuclear weapons programs it has pursued for 60 years. North Korea also declared that its previous commitments in international accords to denuclearize as well as previous diplomatic agreements with South Korea were null and void.

Over the years, the regime has issued a lengthy list of preconditions for progress on its previous negotiated pledges to denuclearize, including:

  • military demands (end of US–South Korean military exercises, removal of US troops from South Korea, abrogation of the bilateral defense alliance, cancelling of the US extended deterrence guarantee (nuclear umbrella), and worldwide dismantlement of all US nuclear weapons);
  • political demands (establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the United States and no action on the UN Commission of Inquiry report on North Korean human rights abuses);
  • law enforcement demands (removal of all UN sanctions, US sanctions, and targeted financial measures); and
  • societal demands against South Korean constitutionally protected freedom of speech (pamphlets, “insulting” articles by South Korean media, and anti–North Korean public demonstrations in the streets of Seoul).

North Korea’s extensive requirements for security assurances and proof of US non-hostile intent transcend and are incompatible with previously agreed-upon parameters of Six-Party Talks agreements. Beyond that, Pyongyang has demonstrated that nothing will satisfy its demands because it perceives nuclear weapons as the only way to prevent North Korea from becoming another Iraq, Yugoslavia, or Libya. As Pyongyang has made clear, the “treasured sword” of nuclear weapons is what defends North Korea, and, indeed, enables economic development.

January 2016 Nuclear Test

North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016 was yet another violation of UN Security Council resolutions. It reflected Pyongyang’s continued pursuit of its prohibited nuclear weapons programs in open defiance of the international community. The regime repeatedly asserted it has no intention of ever abandoning its nuclear weapons, even revising its constitution to enshrine itself as a nuclear weapons state. The fourth test was a game-changer in that it led to a new international consensus on the need for much stronger, more comprehensive sanctions. The UN, the EU, the United States, and other countries began to implement stronger punitive measures to enforce laws, curtail proliferation, and raise the cost for Pyongyang’s defiance of the international community.

This new consensus was triggered by cumulative anger and frustration from repeated North Korean violations, the realization that diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang was no longer a viable solution, heightened concern over North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat, and a greater willingness to push China for more extensive sanctions. The enhanced punitive measures are welcome, if long overdue, to sharpen North Korea’s choice between its nuclear program and economic isolation. While new sanctions are commendable, their utility is dependent on complete and forceful implementation.

Park Sought Chinese Help on North Korea

During her tenure, Park Geun-hye strengthened bilateral ties with Beijing in part to attain increased Chinese pressure on North Korea and acquiescence to Korean unification. Park had numerous summits with President Xi Jinping, including traveling to Beijing in September 2015 to attend events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Park was criticized for attending the parade extolling China’s military forces, given that China was the most recent country to have invaded South Korea and is responsible for the continued division of the Korean Peninsula. Chinese intercession in the 1950-1953 Korean War extended hostilities and led to greater South Korean casualties and destruction.

While Park refused to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe due to lingering animosities from historic issues, she did not apply the same standard to China. Park did not refuse to hold summit meetings with Xi, nor request an apology from China for its “incorrect” historical view of the 1950-1953 Korean War, or for the deaths of South Koreans resulting from the Chinese invasion during the war. Park’s extensive efforts to gain alignment with China on policy toward North Korea were ultimately unsuccessful. In response to North Korea’s January 2016 nuclear test, Chinese unwillingness to constrain its ally, and Xi’s refusal to take a phone call from Park for a month, the South Korean leader abandoned her signature policy of trustpolitik toward North Korea. Park implemented several dramatic policy changes, including closing the failed Kaesong economic experiment and standing up to Chinese pressure, threats, and economic blackmail by announcing Seoul would move forward on US deployment of THAAD to South Korea.

Chinese Policy Toward North Korea: Mix of Sanctions and Support
Faced with a stronger international consensus for greater pressure on North Korea after the January 2016 nuclear test, the Chinese government, as well as Chinese banks and businesses, undertook a number of promising actions in early 2016. Yet, even as China was seemingly on board with stern UN measures against North Korea, Beijing continued to signal its limits, making clear that it saw sanctions only as a catalyst to resumed dialogue. Beijing’s initial business and banking actions to pressure North Korea were both meaningful and welcome. Yet, China took similar actions after each previous North Korean nuclear test, only to reduce its enforcement and resume normal trade with North Korea within months.

China has been an enabler of North Korean misbehavior. In the UN,China has acted as North Korea’s defense lawyer by:

  • repeatedly resisting stronger sanctions,
  • watering down proposed texts of resolutions,
  • insisting on expansive loopholes,
  • denying evidence of North Korea violations,30
  • blocking North Korean entities from being put on the sanctions list, and
  • minimally enforcing resolutions.

The effectiveness of international sanctions is hindered both by China’s weak implementation as well as its willingness to provide economic benefits outside the conditionality of the Six-Party Talks. Chinese economic engagement, though not a violation of UN resolutions, undermines the overall effectiveness of sanctions.

Beijing has even pressured South Korea to leave itself more vulnerable to North Korean nuclear attack by pressuring it against allowing US deployment of the THAAD ballistic missile defense system. Beijing claims that THAAD deployment would be against China’s security interests, overlooking, of course, that North Korean development of nuclear weapons and missiles—and the repeated threats to use them—go against South Korean and US security interests.


Like her predecessors, Park sought to engage Pyongyang to gain North Korean compliance with its previous denuclearization pledges. Unfortunately, her efforts failed to deter the regime from its decades long quest to develop, expand, and refine its nuclear and missile arsenal. North Korea remains resistant to abiding by required UN resolutions and continues to threaten the United States, South Korea, and Japan with nuclear annihilation. The regime emphatically rejects denuclearization negotiations and in 2016 exponentially stepped up its nuclear and missile test programs, achieving several breakthrough successes.

At present, any offer of economic inducements to entice North Korea to abandon its nuclear arsenal is an ill-conceived Wile E. Coyote plan with little chance of success. Instead, the international consensus is that stronger sanctions must be imposed on North Korea for its serial violations of international agreements, UN resolutions, and US law.

President Park has abandoned her attempts to engage Pyongyang and will remain resolute in seeking to impose additional sanctions and gain more stringent international enforcement against the regime. Some senior officials question the Obama administration’s determination to fully utilize its existing sanctions authorities, seeing instead an ongoing tendency to pull its punches against North Korea.

Now that Park has changed course, she will not stray from her policy realignment during her remaining tenure. But South Korean policy after the December 2017 presidential election is uncertain. A progressive president would certainly adopt a softer approach toward North Korea, but would be constrained from resuming Roh Moo-hyun’s unconditional approach. The South Korean populace is far more critical of North Korea after its 2010 attacks against the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island and the 2016 binge of nuclear and missile tests.

It is unlikely that a progressive president could resume operations at Kaesong, given Park’s declaration that it was being used by Pyongyang to funnel money to its nuclear and missile programs. Moreover, the endeavor was arguably a South Korean violation of UN Resolution 2094 (Paragraphs 11, 14, and 15), in providing “financial services…that could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs.”31 Even a conservative successor to Park may well decide to repeat the endless litany of attempts at engaging and negotiating denuclearization accords with North Korea.

North Korea’s growing nuclear prowess may embolden Kim Jong-un to greater coercive diplomacy or more tactical military attacks. In response to North Korea threats, Park has expressed resolve to respond firmly and exponentially to any attack by Pyongyang and affirmed South Korea’s preemptive “Kill Chain” attack strategy. The danger of miscalculation and escalation on the Korean Peninsula continues to rise.

1. Kim Dae-jung, Speech at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, September 2007.

2. “President Roh Pledges to Make Concessions to North Korea,” The Hankyoreh, May 15, 2008,

3. Ralph A. Cossa, “North–South Summit: Potential Pitfalls Ahead?” PacNet 41, October 11, 2007,

4. Translated and quoted in Robert Koehler, “Shut. The. Hell. Up,” The Marmot’s Hole, October 2, 2008,

5. Bae Jung-ho, “Lee Myung-bak Administration’s North Korea Policy and Inter-Korean Relations,” in The U.S.–ROK Alliance in the 21st Century, ed. Bae Jung-ho and Abraham Denmark(Seoul: Korea Institute for National Unification, 2009), 48.

6. Kim Jun Yop, “Lee’s Policy Towards North Korea Will Succeed If Carried Out As Planned,” The Daily NK, February 5, 2008,

7. Yoon Duk-min, “Vision 300, Denuclearization and Openness: Tasks and Prospects,” East Asian Review 20, no. 2 (Summer 2008).

8. “Opposition presidential hopeful proposes economic union with N. Korea,” Yonhap, August 17, 2012,

9. Jane Chung, “South Korean presidential candidate vows unconditional aid for North,” Reuters, August 17, 2012,

10. Declaration on the Advancement of South-North Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity, USIP, October 4, 2007,

11.   Park Geun-hye, “Korea in a Transforming World: A New Frontier for Peace and Cooperation,” The Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, November 8, 2012,

12. Park Geun-hye, “Trustpolitik and the Making of a New Korea,” address delivered on November 15, 2012,

13. “Park Calls for ‘Stern Punishment’ for N. Korean Provocations,” Yonhap, February 22, 2012,

14. Park Geun-hye, “A New Kind of Korea: Building Trust between Seoul and Pyongyang,” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2011.

15. Park Geun-hye, “Korea in a Transforming World: A New Frontier for Peace and Cooperation,” address to the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club, November 8, 2012; Park Geun-hye, “Trustpolitik and the Making of a New Korea.”

16. “Park Plays Hardball with NK,” The Korea Times, April 16, 2012,

17. J. S. Chang, “Park Warns N. Korea of Regime Collapse If Nuclear Pursuit Continues,” Yonhap, February 12, 2013; Choe Sang-hun, “New Leader in South Criticizes North Korea,” The New York Times, February 12, 2013,

18. Park Geun-hye, “Korea in a Transforming World.”

19. “North Korea dismisses South’s talk of reform,” BBC, July 29, 2012,

20. “Full text of Park’s speech on N. Korea,” The Korea Times, March 28, 2014,

21. “DPRK Slams Park Geun-hye’s Reckless Remarks,” KCNA, September 26, 2014,

22. National Committee on North Korea, “Kim Jong-un’s 2016 New Year’s Address,” January 2, 2016,

23. “Kim Jong Un’s New Year Address,” KCNA, January 1, 2015,

24. Ser Myo-ja, “Regime Again Calls for a Halt to Military Drills,” JoongAng Daily, January 19, 2015,

25. Hong So Yeon, “NK’s UN Deputy Ambassador Urges Suspension of Military Drills,” Daily NK, January 14, 2015,

26. Son Won-je, “Kim Jong-un Says North Korea Isn’t About to Sit Down with ‘Mad Dogs,’” The Hankroyeh, February 2, 2015,

27. “US Imperialists Will Face Final Doom: DPRK NDC,” KCNA, February 4, 2015,, and Son Won-je, “Propaganda Balloon Launches Again Presenting Obstacle to Inter-Korean Dialogue,” The Hankyoreh, January 9, 2015,

28. Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea welcomes agreement but says Seoul ‘learned a lesson’,” UPI, August 25, 2015,

29. “N. Korea: Bleak prospects for inter-Korean relations,” Yonhap, December 15, 2015,

30. Bejing blocked any meaningful international response to North Korea’s attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island, which caused the deaths of 50 South Koreans. China even refused to acknowledge the evidence of North Korea’s attack on the Cheonan.

31. “Security Council Strengthens Sanctions on Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in Response to 12 February Nuclear Test,” March 7, 2013,