Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (L) and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il meet for a second day of talks in Pyongyang on June 14, 2000.
Monday marks 20 years since former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and then-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reached an agreement that called for peace, reconciliation and cooperation after the first-ever summit between the heads of the two countries.
While current President Moon Jae-in continues to pursue peace, Pyongyang time and time again blasts South Korea for what it calls hostile acts against the North.
Ron Chang reports.
In his first major policy speech on North Korea in July 2017 in Berlin, President Moon Jae-in said Germany's unification has made South Korea realize how important peace and cooperation based on mutual respect really is.
Harry Kazianis, senior director of Korean studies at the U.S. Center for the National Interest, says Moon learned from presidents that came before him, namely Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, how to deal with North Korea.
[Clip: Kazianis: 00:13]
"I think he has the benefit of history in hindsight. He gets to see what his predecessors have essentially done in the past, and he was, essentially, to both of those men, an adviser."
And it's with this mentality that Moon approached the North for the past three years, and it appears to have had led to a détente, albeit short-lived.
Since last year's Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, which ended without a deal, Kazianis said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been bunkering down.
[Clip: Kazianis: 00:10]
"I think Kim Jong-un feels burned by not only Seoul but he feels burned by Washington. But nonetheless, he cannot show weakness in Pyongyang either. So now this is one of the reasons he is really in no mood to talk."
The director noted that while the regime has ratcheted up tensions in recent days, leader Kim is not going to go as far as testing a nuclear weapon or launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.
[Clip: Kazianis: 00:17]
"I think he realizes that if he were to cross the red line, the Trump administration is going to respond. I think Trump would double down on the maximum pressure policy and really for some tight sanctions on North Korea that South Korea would also have to go along with. I think that sort of explains why Kim as picked this way to respond."
Kazianis said both Kim and President Moon are likely waiting to see what happens in November with the U.S. presidential election before taking more concrete action.
[Clip: Kazianis: 00:21]
"I think the Moon Jae-in government can only try to set the table if Donald Trump is reelected. I think that's really the only chance for there to be some sort of reborn détente between all sides. I think Joe Biden will go back to the old Obama administration policy of strategic patience, which basically means the United States will not negotiate with North Korea unless it gives up all its nuclear weapons first."
<Photo: Yonhap News>
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