Anchor: Security experts agreed during a new year's special roundtable organized by KBS World Radio News on Friday that dealing with North Korea issues will continue to be an uphill battle in 2019. The roundtable was joined by former South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Robert Gallucci, senior researcher at the RAND Corporation Bruce Bennett and former South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin.
Kim In-kyung has this report.
Report: North Korea experts say the worst case scenario regarding Pyongyang in 2019 would be the exercise of military force.
More realistically, Robert Gallucci, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, explained that it would be going back to where the parties were in 2017.
[Sound bite: Robert Gallucci - former U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs]
"We had a year I think in which many of us thought we were quite close to the use of military force that the North Korean leader made quite clear that his objective was to have a thermonuclear weapon deliverable on U.S. soil by intercontinental-range ballistic missile and the American president made it quite clear that that was not going to happen."
Nevertheless, former South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung-joo said a second Trump-Kim meeting is still within reach.
[Sound bite: Han Sung-joo - former South Korean foreign minister]
"Kim Jong-un obviously thinks it's easier and more useful to deal with President Trump in a face to face meeting. The Singapore meeting last year showed that Kim can persuade, outsmart and manipulate his counterpart. All Kim has to do is to give Mr. Trump something that is not quite substantive and whatever it is President Trump will claim it to be a great catch and progress."
But Han said it's difficult to predict what kind of a deal they may be able to produce. He said North Korea has a "crafty" leader who talks about denuclearization, but is trying to legitimize his nuclear weapons, while the U.S. president doesn't seem to be very "strategically-minded or thoughtful."
Bruce Bennett, senior researcher at the RAND Corporation, said South Korean President Moon Jae-in has an important role to play in trying to bridge the gap between the North and the U.S.
[Sound bite: Bruce Bennett – senior researcher, RAND Corporation]
"[President Moon Jae-in] has yet to go to Kim Jong-un and tell him 'Look, be serious. If you want the Americans to have any credibility in you to believe it all in what you're saying, you need to do something. You need to stop producing nuclear weapons. The Americans are going to look at that and say you're lying through your teeth.' So President Moon needs to help Chairman Kim understand the American perspective, to understand that he has to take some concrete actions that actually lower the threat and not just stop tests or whatever, which are important, but aren't real denuclearization."
Looking forward, former South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choi Young-jin advised that South Korea and the U.S. need to maintain reduced tensions regarding North Korea and have patience. He said those involved must accept that there are differences between the U.S. and the North regarding the concept of denuclearization.
[Sound bite: Choi Young-jin - former South Korean vice foreign minister]
"North Korea will not accept American approach in terms of CVID -- complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement. This kind of deductive approach, North Korea will not accept. The same with FFVD -- final, fully verifiable denuclearization. Deductive method, North Korea will not accept because it will endanger the security of the regime. On the other hand, North Korea tend to think that Donald Trump promised something with regard to lifting of sanctions of United Nations. It's not going to happen, because lifting of sanctions will make North Korea a nuclear state."
He said both Pyongyang and Washington must accept their differences and that it will take time to make a compromise.
Kim In-kyung, KBS World Radio News.