Sunday, February 6, 2011

John Park's talk at the New York Korea Society brings back a taste of what the Society used to be like

GuamDiary encourages its readers to listen to John Park's talk on 'North Korea's leadership transition: the China connexion' on the Korea Society's podcast archives.
Park is a young, attractive Harvard trained Ph.D., now director, Korea working group, at the government founded and funded US institute of peace [USIP]. So, you can say, he deals with the elite and rubs elbows with the chattering classes here and in east Asia, and probably beyond. It does help his profile that he once briefly worked for Goldman Sachs.
Park's presence brought back a whiff of the type of programming the Korea Society once had during the heyday of ambassador Donald Gregg, a man who never shied away from exploring issues which others took to the hills to void out lest careers and reputations of their might suffer.
Since a hot button topic which has raised buzz among the chattering classes, in and out of government, the dumbed down mainstreet media, about the transition of power that has begun in the DPRK [North Korea] and the unknown quantity the 'Dear Leader's' son Kim Jong eun, slated to succeed him, Park brings surprising 'apercus' to the table. Of course, from the word 'go', he emphasised that he is speaking for himself not the USIP. Fair enough!
Park's powerpoint demonstration dwelt on the growing inter party and economic penetration of China into North Korea, especially along the common northeast border the two countries share. It is a region rich in low grade iron ore with port facilities which China is now developing for the simple reason it makes good economic sense and cents in transshiping products from northern China to ports in southern China. Beijing is also building infrastructure and plants and the ancillary support that that means.
Inter party relations has put more energy in the KWP [Korean Workers Party] which has atrophied somewhat during a military first policy of the last years. Such relations which go back 80 years, allows more flexibile economic, diplomatic, and military alignment which has seen its ups and downs over the years.
Park refers to the open door which China is opening North Korea on many levels, not the least in upgrading the finesse needed in dealing with a global capitalist world, in spite of crippling sanctions imposed and jealously watched over by the US.
What did come out of Park's presentation is in steno speak: at a time the US is depending on China to 'muzzle' North Korea and push it on the nuclear issue, Beijing is pursuing a policy which 'disconnects' the nuclear issue from relations with North Korea which has nothing to do with US interests and policy. In other words, China is strengthening ties with the DPRK, not only out of regional stability and having a friendly presence on its borders, but further its own economic interests and development, which in an accelerated 'trickle down' effect will and does benefit
The US, Park posits, looks at the DPRK with the same myopic eye it sees Cuba, and he thinks the US policy will fail in the longer run.
But why give a synopsis...GaumDiary encourages listening to Park's own words and follow his line of thinking. Given the limits of time and topic, broader political and security issues are scanted. But that is to be expected, even though during the Q&A, Park did allude to them briefly.
Also, it is worthwhile to read Park on He knows his China as well as he his Korea. And that is something out of the ordinary given the poverty of thinking among the US North Korea clerisy.

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