On Friday, North Korea’s former spy chief, Kim Yong Chol, met with President Donald Trump for a two hour conference at the White House. During their meeting, the DPRK official presented Trump with an oversized letter that had been personally written by Kim Jong-Un. Although the contents of the letter have not yet been revealed, we assume that it reads something like this:
Dear President Donald Trump,
I send you my warmest greetings and I sincerely hope this letter finds you in the best of health.
First, allow me to say how grateful I am that you chose to accept our invitation to meet in Singapore on June 12, 2018. It was very courageous of you to break with tradition and take such bold step for the sake of peace. Speaking on behalf of the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, I want you to know that I will make every effort to make sure that your trip is not in vain. We have every intention of presenting our views on the issues as succinctly and candidly as possible, but we will not play games, engage in trickery or beat around the bush. More importantly, we are fully committed to keeping our promise to aggressively take steps towards “complete, verifiable and irreversible” nuclear disarmament as soon as we reach a mutually acceptable agreement. There will be, however, requirements the United States will have to meet in order for us to achieve the final settlement that, I believe, we all want. I will elaborate more on this point later in the letter.
I feel it is my duty as a partner in any future agreement with the United States to draw attention to the potential obstacles that could prevent us from achieving our ultimate goal of peace and security on the Korean peninsula. Let me be blunt: After 6 decades of following US-DPRK policy, we think we have a fairly good understanding of the competing forces that operate within the US foreign policy establishment and who have a hand in setting policy. As you may know, not everyone supports the goals of the Singapore summit or wants you to succeed in your mission. From our point of view, there are powerful elements within the Pentagon and the bureaucracy that frequently insert themselves into the negotiating process in order to achieve the outcome they want. For example, you may recall that recent US-ROK joint-military drills in South Korea were going to include nuclear-capable bombers. The intention of this unwarranted display of force was to provoke suspicion and hostility on the part of the DPRK leadership. The perpetrators of this incitement clearly hoped that we would overreact and, subsequently, back out of the June 12 summit. They were wrong, but their sinister act of sabotage was duly noted. You might also recall how National Security advisor John Bolton invoked the so-called “Libya model” in his summary comments of how the denuclearization process might unfold. Once again, I think you can see that Bolton’s comments were not merely a slip-of-the-tongue but a deliberate effort to dampen relations, arouse suspicion and preempt future cooperation on key issues that need to be dealt with in the upcoming summit. Clearly, Bolton’s incendiary rhetoric was aimed at making sure the summit never took place. Once again, we would characterize Bolton’s interference as sabotage, but perhaps we are overstating the case.
These incidents help to explain why I sent my trusted advisor and second in command 10,000 miles to hand-deliver this letter to you personally. It is because we do not think we can achieve the meaningful change we want by allowing biased intermediaries who appear to be satisfied the same political arrangement we have today to continue to poison relations as they have in the past. We believe that in order to meet the aspirations of both nations’ peoples and make quantifiable progress on the road to peace, we must ignore the distractions and provocations and conduct a direct dialogue between the two countries’ leaders.
Let me state our position unequivocally so there is no misunderstanding: We are determined to change the status quo, to normalize relations with our brothers in the South, to lower the barriers to commerce and prosperity, to become a more integral part of regional economy, and to hopefully end the 65 year-long conflict with the US that has caused so much division, suspicion and misery. That is why we are committed to the path of denuclearization. We are not entering into an agreement with the United States because we are afraid of a confrontation, but because we want to seize a unique opportunity to participate in a regional development plan that will modernize the DPRK, create better paying jobs for our people, rebuild our industries and infrastructure, and help to integrate our critical transportation and energy grids with those of our neighbors. And, no, we are not abandoning our commitment to socialism, but we are adapting to new contingencies in much the same way that China or Vietnam underwent basic economic restructuring the more they integrated with the global economy. Our commitment to socialist ideals remains steadfast, but we are equally resolved to make the changes we need to ensure prosperity for our people.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said that the United States would be willing to help the DPRK economically depending on whether the nuclear issue is resolved or not. That is wonderful and we are certainly open to any offers to improve our economy provided businesses and investors agree to abide by our rules and regulations which are being modified to conform with more widely-accepted international standards. As you know, we have recently implemented market-oriented reforms and have taken deliberate steps to further liberalize our economy. We have also “established 13 economic development zones to try to attract foreign capital and investment. We have also made ‘improving living standards’ for ordinary working people a “national priority.” Our progress has been slow, but we are confident that we are headed in the right direction. We fully intend to accelerate the pace of modernization, integration and market-oriented reforms.
How does this fit with our decision to abandon our nuclear weapons?
Frankly, our primary business partners– China, Russia and South Korea– all agree that the DPRK’s nuclear weapons only add to regional instability and are an obstacle to further economic integration which requires a broader security umbrella maintained by the more powerful states. We are not and will not shirk our responsibility to provide for our own defense, but regional security requires the harmonizing of interests and obligations. Just as the United States would protect Mexico or Canada from foreign invasion, so too, those responsibilities fall on the larger nuclear-armed powers in the region. We willingly make the concession of giving up our nuclear weapons in order to participate in a broader “rules based” economic coalition that we believe will ensure both our future security and prosperity.
For this reason, we are willing to denuclearize as Washington demands in exchange for a treaty that finally ends the Korean War and provides written guarantees that the United States will not launch a preemptive attack on the DPRK sometime in the future. Once again, there are no tricks and no traps, we are trying to be as honest and straightforward as possible. We will not require the US to stop is military drills in the South, close its military bases, or withdrawal its troops from bases in the Republic of Korea. We do ask, however, that the United States reconsider its deployment of the THAAD system in the southern part of the peninsula which we feel upsets the regional balance of power and invites a dramatic escalation in the Arms Race. But whether THAAD is removed or not, we remain committed to denuclearization, just as we remain committed to the complete cessation of all hostilities between North and South, a final end to the war, and a new era of peace and prosperity on the Korean peninsula.
I hope that you, President Donald Trump, will ignore the pessimists and the naysayers and take advantage of this historic opportunity to finally end this crisis and help to put us on the path of cooperation and friendship.
Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of the Worker’s Party of Korea