Seoul, South Korea (VOA) – South Korea should review its current policy on North Korea to cope with the North Korean nuclear threat, a senior South Korean official said Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with VOA’s Korean Service, Chun Yung-woo, the top security official for outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, offered his government’s assessment of its policy on North Korea for the last 5 years and advice for Park Geun-hye’s government, which officially starts on Monday.
“We should review our policy toward the North based on the assumption that nuclear-armed North Korea and the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula can’t go together and a long-term peaceful co-existence with the North is impossible,” said Chun.
Earlier, Lee told a meeting of senior dignitaries, including former government ministers and religious leaders, that it has become impossible to have North Korea abandon its nuclear programs through dialogue and negotiations and only regime collapse could remove the threat.
Later, in his farewell speech to the nation Lee contended that people in North Korea, an isolated and heavily sanctioned country, are changing.
Chun said Lee’s government contributed to bringing about a change in the North but he declined to provide specific details.
“We have used any means available to us to bring about a change in the mindset of people in the North and in the North Korean society.”
Chun stressed the importance of informing North Korean people about the outside world.
“The most dangerous virus to the North Korean regime is the truth,” said Chun.
On the prospect of new sanctions by the United Nations Security Council against North Korea, Chun said coordination and cooperation among South Korea, Japan, and the United States is well in place, adding that China, the North’s staunchest ally, will be playing a key role in determining the severity of the sanctions. Chun contended that China’s stance on future U.N. actions is critical to restraining the North from further provocations.
The North’s latest nuclear test is estimated to be the most powerful test, which prompted some South Korean politicians to reconsider the country’s commitment to denuclearization. However, Chun dismissed that as an “unrealistic option” coming out of frustration.
Chun expressed hope for enhanced cooperation with Japan in handling security threats posed by the North, suggesting the incoming government resume efforts to revive a military accord between the two countries, which will allow the two sides to share military intelligence on North Korea. Japan and South Korea agreed on the agreement but the South failed to sign it due to political oppositions.
“It was a mistake not to make enough efforts to persuade the public but the agreement is essential. When an opportunity arises, we need to make renewed efforts to persuade the public to support the agreement.”
Reported by Byung Yong Park and Hwan Yong Kim for VOA Korean Service. Written in English by Jennifer Yoo
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