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Title IFES Holds the 65th Unification Strategy Forum, "The Situation on the Korean Peninsula: Assessing 2019 and the Prospects for 2020”
Date 2019.12.04
Type [News]
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Date: 2019.11.28
 
Venue: Grand Conference Room, Pyeonghwagwan of IFES
 
The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) held its 65th Unification Strategy Forum titled, “The Situation on the Korean Peninsula: Assessing 2019 and the Prospects for 2020” on Thursday, November 28. 
 
YTN Diplomatic Correspondent Son-Taek Wang served as one of the presenters during the forum. In assessing the events of 2019 he expressed disappointment considering the high expectations preceding the 2nd US-DPRK Summit in Hanoi. Nonetheless, he added that, “Considering the last 70 years of hostility (between the two countries), just like last year 2019 has been a time of positive change towards building peace on the Korean Peninsula.” 
  
Correspondent Wang labeled the 2019 US-DPRK relationship as a ‘Period of Diplomatic Adjustment,’ noting the mix of hope and disappointment felt throughout South Korea and the world. He also advised that, “If North Korea, the US, and South Korea adjust their policies effectively, it’s entirely possible that a positive situation can be built in 2020.” 
 
“If a 3rd US-DPRK Summit is agreed on, it will possibly be held between February and early April, 2020,” he continued. He contended that this time window will be favorable for both the US and North Korea when taking into account their respective political situations. He asserted that President Trump will need a major event to show to voters as the US Democratic Party primaries go into full swing in February. He contended that, likewise, Kim Jong Un will need something to show for his economic development policies before the Day of the Sun on April 15.
 
Hankyoreh Senior Staff Writer Lee Jae-hoon also noted that the abrupt end of the 2nd US-DPRK Summit without a deal was a defining moment in evaluating the state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula in 2019. In assessing the US-DPRK relationship in 2020, he offered several possibilities. One possibility is a dramatic twist as a result of a 3rd US-DPRK summit, accelerating the improvement of ROK-DPRK relations. He speculated that in the event US-DPRK negotiations are slowed or suspended outright, on the other hand, ROK-DPRK relations will either further deteriorate as Kim Jong Un pursues a ‘new path,’ or Kim Jong Un may opt to attempt to improve ties with the South as a means of crisis management. A third alternative he offered is a possible retrogression to the near-war crisis of 2017.
 
Senior Staff Writer Lee counted South Korea’s upcoming congressional elections and the US’ presidential election as the two biggest factors that will impact US-DPRK relations in 2020. He also anticipated that the second Qatar World Cup preliminary match between North and South Korea (to be held in Seoul in June, 2020), and the Tokyo Summer Olympics could be used as opportunities to improve ROK-DPRK relations. 
 
Yonhap News Agency Journalist Jang Yong-hoon noted that in the aftermath of the Hanoi US-DPRK Summit, North Korea turned inward and reverted to stressing self-reliance rather than reach out for continued cooperation. He noted that the relevant persons responsible for the summit were likely all censured, citing the resignation of former Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol and the replacement of former DPRK Chief Nuclear Negotiator Kim Hyok Chol.  
 
Jang Yong-hoon forecasted that the Kim Regime will be reorganized in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the founding of the WPK in 2020 and ahead of the 8th Congress of the WPK that is scheduled to be held the following year. He predicted that the Kim Regime will mobilize all its resources to produce a major result that can be used as propaganda to tout the ‘successful accomplishment’ of its five-year economic plan.
 
He also predicted that there is a possibility that the role and function of businesses and individuals in the North Korean economy will grow as the expansion of ‘Our Style Economic Management Methods’ continues into 2020. Nonetheless, he anticipated that in reality North Korea will likely fail to make any significant economic achievements and pin the blame on US sanctions. 
 
The 65th Unification Strategy Forum’s discussion panel included Korea Joongang Daily editorial writer Jang Sejeong , the Dong-a Ilbo editorial writer Ku Ja-ryong, SBS North Korea Specialist Reporter Ahn Jong Sik, as well as IFES Professors Sang-Man Lee, Jin-Gu Cho, and Dong-Yub Kim.
 
 
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