Asia Transnational Threats Forum: Counterterrorism in Asia
Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American policy in East Asia
Reimagining the U.S.-South Korea alliance
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.
I think Pompeo again is in a bit of pickle. North Korea has been clear about what they’re not willing to do. [North Korea’s offers so far have been minor compared to what it is asking of the United States in return.] Because the North Korea nuclear program is so advanced, this is like North Korea offering to sell us Windows 97 at a price higher than it warrants.
[On the possibility of ongoing secret negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea] I am always wondering if my chain is being yanked. It could also mean Kim is trying to undermine Moon, who positions himself as a broker between the U.S. and North Korea. These two potential explanations are not mutually exclusive.