In the past decade there have been several instances of crisis, confrontation and negotiated resolution on the Korean Peninsula. So far, only bilateral negotiations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and either the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea) or the United States have resulted in a satisfactory conclusion to the objectives of the talks. This is in contrast to the unsuccessful attempts at multilateral talks. Of course, critics of bilateral engagement with the DPRK are quick to point out that ultimately Pyongyang has failed to implement or uphold its obligations under the terms of bilaterally negotiated settlements and therefore those talks should not be described as successful. This is the rationale belatedly used by the Bush Administration in refusing to negotiate directly with Pyongyang in resolving the current nuclear crisis.1
One of the most notable bilateral negotiations between the North and South took place at the end of 1991. The result of intense talks was the “Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonagression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North”. The accord, while never implemented, was an impressive achievement. Among other things, it called for economic, cultural and scientific exchanges, free correspondence between divided families, and the reopening of roads and railroads that had been severed at the North-South dividing line.2 This agreement was followed shortly by the 20 January 1992 “Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” designed “to eliminate the danger of nuclear war through denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and thus to create an environment and conditions favorable for peace and peaceful unification of our country and contribute to peace and security in Asia and the world.”3 Likewise, this agreement was never implemented.
[Kim Jong Un's succession and establishing Ri Sol Ju as the mother of the next North Korean leader] In the past his father and grandfather had multiple wives and there was intense jockeying about who was the heir. He knows the regime focuses on bloodlines, and he has Kim Il Sung’s blood in his veins...[Kim Jong Un] is the third Kim. Is he going to be the one that gives up nuclear weapons and makes North Korea beholden to outside powers? I doubt it.