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'Trustpolitik' should be not with Kim Jong Un, but the North Korean people

Kim Ga Young  |  2016-02-19 13:04

In light of a recent speech delivered by South Korean President Park Geun Hye, signaling a transition to a hard-line policy and Seouls willingness to work toward a regime change in North Korea, experts have pointed out this new approach must also be carried out alongside strategies to transform the mindset of North Korean people. 

As proven in the most recent fourth nuclear test, the international community failed in producing any substantial results despite international sanctions and a policy of isolation against the North after the first three rounds of nuclear tests. Now, there are calls to use the North Korean public as the key force for regime change along with existing pressure against the leadership. 

A number of North Korea experts agree whats most crucial in this strategy for regime change will be devising different policies for the North Korean leadership and its people. They say Seoul must cut off the funds that are propping up the Kim Jong Un regime and respond aggressively to provocations but step up efforts to get information from the outside world into the North to help educate the public. 

Another point they emphasize is that the South Korean government should work to win over the hearts of North Koreans while they push for a regime change. By planting the seeds of solidarity, they believe some form of change can be expected from within even at the smallest level. 

Weve confirmed once again that as long as the Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un Suryong [Supreme Leader] system exists, nothing in regards to its nuclear program, reforms, human rights, and unification can be expected to be resolved, a state-run institute researcher, who asked not to be named, told Daily NK. This is why its now absolutely necessary to pursue a policy that can lead to a Kim Jong Un regime change. 

On the most basic level, it's undeniable that the government will need to deter military provocations by the North and be vigilant in sealing off all elements that may be misused to strengthen the Kim Jong Un regime, but unless there are natural changes from within, it will not lead to regime change the researcher said. 

This is why we need to push forward with free information, opening up the country, and promoting a market economy so that we can change the mindset of everyone ranging from those within the Workers Party and the Korean Peoples Army to the public. We need to completely isolate the Kim family from the rest of the 24 million North Koreans. 

The researcher added that although some have referred to the shift in policy as the end to the Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula, whats changing is actually the target of trust-building. To begin with, it was impossible to think the South and North Korean governments would trust each other. Since theyve now belatedly realized this, they need to draw up a New Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula with the goal of bridging the Souths 50 million and the Norths 24 million people. 

Senior Researcher Son Gi Woong from Korea Institute for National Unification explained, Germanys unification was not because the West pushed for a policy of absorption. It was possible because people in East Germany had access to information from the outside world, and their thoughts changed, and that led them to choose West Germany and its liberal democracy. 

Had the West pushed for unification through absorption, Son said, it would not have been welcomed neither by the people of East Germany nor its surrounding countries.   

Just because the South Korean government has shut down Kaesong Industrial Complex and declared strong measures against the North, this should not be interpreted as a message that it will build a wall against it, he noted. We must cut off all routes of capital inflows into the North that can be used for the production of weapons of mass destruction but step up operations to give the North Korean people eyes and ears to the outside world. 

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

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