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Eureka: Negotiating with North Koreans - past, present, future
by Jay Gutman
2018-04-02 09:36:53
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Negotiating with the North Koreans in Q & A format.

noth01_400Question: What can we learn from past negotiations with the North Koreans?

That they take the money and run. It has been revealed that North Korea had received 150 million dollars plus several investment incentives by South Korea in 2000 but all they did was build stockpile weapons with the money they received. Back then there were no clear incentives for North Korea to denucealrize and the whole summit and Sunshine policy was made more for electoral purposes in South Korea than for serious engagement with North Korea. That is South Koreans wanted guaranteed election wins for the liberals.

Question: What are the differences between previous North Korean administrations and this one?

When South Korean presidents Lee Myung Bak and Park Geun Hye and their administrations decided to withdraw a lot of the financial aid that went to the North, North Koreans started threatening the world with war. This administration is no different, except that it has opened up with more liberal economic policies. But North Korea's industrial base is still weak and still relies mainly on mining products for exports. So perhaps this administration wants to become an industrial powerhouse as it has all the ingredients needed: a hardworking and disciplined workforce, low wages, an undervalued currency and an international reputation. That is North Korea can do very well at exporting industrial goods.

Question: What do North Koreans really think of Americans?

That it's OK to have them as guests, but not as roomates. The American military presence in South Korea is still perceived as an invasion to them. Overall North Koreans view foreigners favorably as guests. They strictly monitor their presence and make sure foreigners leave once their mission has been completed.

Question: What are North Korea's positions in global affairs?

North Korea has realized that this is a face paced world where anything can happen and people forget about it the next day. North Korea has been building alliances with China and Russia and is perhaps delighted with the current tensions between Russia and the rest of the world, because it knows it's in a good position to ally with Russia.

Final question: What should we be mindful of in these coming negotiations with North Koreans?

In my experience, it's better to send scripts back and forth and to agree to read the final draft at the negotiation table. Any attempt at improvisation will lead to furstration.

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