January 15, 2015
Manning: Kim Jong Un Wants to Talk
The buzz is in the air. Almost as soon as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un floated the idea of a summit with South Korea in his New Year message, leaders in Seoul got to work. First, South Korea announced $2.7 million in aid to the North, its first in five years. Then South Korean President Park Geun-hye announced that she’d be willing to meet Kim “without preconditions.”
Yet Ms. Park simultaneously suggested something other than negotiations: reviving cross-border visits for families divided since the Korean War armistice of 1953. Such a move would be consistent with her reciprocity-based policy of trustpolitik. That approach is meant as a third way after her hardline conservative predecessor challenged rather than engaged Pyongyang, and the leftist administration before that made generous concessions to the North, only to receive confrontation and nuclear tests in return.