Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American policy in East Asia
Reimagining the U.S.-South Korea alliance
Asia Transnational Threats Forum: Cybersecurity in Asia
[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.
Now that [Kim Jong Un has] finished the nuclear weapons program, Kim is focusing on the economic development aspect of a dual-track policy. Now he can engage from a position of strength as an equal, an international statesman...People are mistaking his summit diplomacy as a sign that he’s willing to let the weapons go. That’s a misguided assumption. He can chew gum and talk and have summits at the same time...Kim wants economic development on his own terms. He wants to be able to control who gets it and he wants to be able to make sure the regime stays intact without outside information about democracy or economic reform infecting the populace. There is only so much he can do while sanctions are in place.
The more interesting question is what [South Korean president] Moon Jae-In’s administration does about this if [North Korea's missing ambassador to Italy] really wants to defect. Moon would like to have another summit with Kim Jong Un and want him to visit Seoul. And I’m sure the Moon administration would be worried that this would complicate the effort to put one together. What’s unique about [North Korean] diplomats is that they have much more opportunity to defect than anybody else living in North Korea. If they are being reassigned to Pyongyang and afraid of not getting out of there again, they might take this opportunity.
[John Bolton’s statement that the North Koreans “have not lived up to the commitments” made in Singapore] totally cuts Secretary of State Pompeo and the special representative, Steve Biegun, at the knees. What is the incentive for North Korea to actually talk about the meat-and-potatoes of denuclearization with the special representative and with the secretary of state if the national security adviser has said nothing is happening so we have to go straight to the top?