[Issue] 2013, Issue 2 – In Focus, Politics
First 100 days of Park administration; reunification, diplomacy, and security evaluation and prospect

Hong Myeong-geun
Officer, CCEJ Reunification Society

President Park’s administration has already met its 100th day after launching on February 25, 2013. Based on the Korean Peninsula Trust Process, which she pledged during the presidential campaign, Park’s policy against North Korea provided enough leeway for new conditions between the South and North, at least compared to that of previous 5 years under the Lee administration. 

However, in the 100 days since her inauguration, the North-South relationship is seeing its worst situation ever, in spite of the word ‘trust’. The last 100 days have been full of controversies between the South and North due to several incidences. The third nuclear experiment of North Korea took place in February 2013, followed by the UN’s resolution of restraint against North Korea. Then, in March, there was the annual key-resolve joint military drill between South Korea and the US where they practiced a war scenario involving the occupation and stabilization of North Korea. Next came the blocking of communication lines, and finally, the temporary cessation of the Kaeseong industrial complex and the South Korean government’s pulling out of activities based at the complex.

A further look at the Kaeseong Industrial Complex reveals that over the past ten years, it has never been shut down, despite the varying degrees of tension between the North and the South. Yet in the first 100 days of the Park administration, this last system to maintain peace on the peninsula has been shut down, and no longer exists. This is the Park administration’s situation after 100 days, and reflective of North and South Korea’s present relationship.

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With these conditions on the Korean Peninsula, many experts have said that Park’s administration lacks strategic action and goals for reunification, diplomacy and security. Also, the current major policy towards North Korea, the “Trust Process of Korean Peninsula”, is said to be ambiguous. It has been evaluated as meager since it has political problems such as not having set its range of trust, and only has no itemized list for discussions, only and outline. 

The Korean Peninsula Trust Process also has the following specific problems to address: ▲ Humanitarian support to North doesn’t ensure the North’s positive response ▲ Lack of concrete contents to force cooperation ▲ Doubt over North Korea getting domestic support on nuclear / economic parallel policy ▲ Lack of a mechanism to balance between US-China’s understanding and South Korean’s understanding

Furthermore, the absence of centralized control within Park’s reunification, diplomacy and security apparatus is said by some to be another problem. The government has also shown itself to lack a proper political monitoring and feedback system.

The absence of a strategy for communication with North Korea is another issue of concern. The Park administration is treating North Korea in the same manner as the former Lee Myung Bak administration, avoiding the urgent need to build peace regime, and worsening the bilateral relationship by being obstinate.

From now on, in order to achieve a successful reunification, diplomacy, and security agenda, the first step needed is to change our attitude and engage in conversation. Suggested means of communication include 6-party talks, denuclearization through international cooperation, and through supporting humanitarian organizations. Above all else, multifaceted levels of engagement should be pursued at both the domestic and international level.

The administration must also systematize their reunification, diplomacy and security agenda so as to include input from all levels of society. Through this, although it might not be a mechanism to improve public opinion in the short term, and might be even be criticized, we need to set a plan for a long-term vision that covers at least the next 5 years on the Korean Peninsula.

In sum, since these three areas are greatly affected by the president’s decisions, President Park must change her leadership style from the current self-righteous tone and become an open leader.

A true farmer doesn’t give up plowing the field whether drought or flood comes. CCEJ will work with a farmers mind to propose policy for not only the South-North relationship, but for a long-term settlement of a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.