a super diplomacy week continues for
South Korea with a pile of issues at hand from dispatch of troops to the
Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Middle East to defense
cost-sharing talks with the US this on top of North Korea’s denuclearization
issue and inter-korean challenges which are being discussed in the u.s. in
back-to-back meetings held by top South Korean and US officials this week could
South Korea find a way through remaining hurdles while not hurting the
seoul-washington Alliance let’s get some clues with dr. Zhang up from the
scheduled Institute who joins us here in the studio for us tonight thank you for
coming in thanks for having me President Putin in his New Year’s address as well
as New Year’s press conference stressed that stressed the need to boost
inter-korean cooperation and in line with that foreign minister Kanagawa
during her discussion with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of
inter-korean tourism clarifying that it does not violate UN sanctions were not
hearing much about Washington’s official response to that but could there have
been some kind of a disagreement between South Korea and the US on that I think
the technicality matters for these tourism issues as we discussed before
that individual tourism is not banned by the UN UN sanctions and even the US
government does not ban its own people – from traveling to North Korea because
from the US point of view it violates the its first amendment of a
constitution like freedom of speech issues so there is why individual
tourism to North Korea is possible technically however under the current
law of South Korea for South Korean people to visit North Korea we first
have to get invitation from North Korea then we ask government to give the
permission to visit North Korea so he unless they kind of process procedure
procedure or there’s a procedure it’s difficult for South Korean people to
visit North Korea in a first price and so if even if we don’t
abide by that laws that then another way for South Korean people to visit North
Korea is to visit Beijing Shanghai or Vladivostok to apply for the visa to get
into North Korea however the problem is that North Korea has not a recognized
South Korea as an independent country so they don’t issue a visa for South Korean
passport holders so it’s very tricky so technically individual South Koreans
can travel to North Korea but it’s very difficult so in the past when we had a
travel to the kumkum mountain with a Hyundai asan there are just some
coordination between North and South Korea
but now UN sanctions actually private making another joint venture like
Hyundai asan to work with the North Korean government so technically we can
go to North Korea to have at WonderCon mountain but it’s diff it’s banned from
the UN sanctions to make travel agencies like Hyundai asan like in the past
because it’s it’s banned from UN sanctions so foreign minister are claims
that it does not individual tourism to North Korea does not violate UN
sanctions but you believe that in realistically speaking it will be very
hard for South Koreans to individually travel to North Korea yeah it
technically is very difficult even though we can remove some others but it
is still very difficult and from the government point of view that if South
Korean people get into North Korean territory then we don’t have any
guarantee of that traveling safely that’s the biggest concern now foreign
minister kang also said there will be times when North Korea us relations come
first and when inter-korean relations must come first
doubling down on president moon’s drive to speed up inter-korean cooperation
what does this imply what does her remark imply to the two Koreas as well
as the u.s. many believes that many believe that foreign minister countries
which was not meaning that South Korea is going to do no matter what US is
going to say about it because but I believe that because the discussed
dialogue between u.s. and North Korea has been stalled maybe there are some
rooms that South Korea can pray because in 2018 when 2018 the president trumpet
cancer it’s for his first meeting with the Kim jong-un South Korean government
could play a role to to revive the historical summit between two leaders so
I think that when foreign minister kang emphasized the role of inter-korean
relations I believe that she meant that inter-korean relations can actually lead
to better relations between u.s. and North Korea back-to-back meetings
continue in the u.s. with South Korea’s top nuclear envoy IDO who set to discuss
North Korea issues with his US counterpart what would you say are the
necessary steps to re-engage North Korea in dialogue it is very difficult to
since North Korea has argued that North Korea is not really interested in
talking with the South Korea so I think the reason why South Korean government
is bringing bringing up the issues of tourism to Kumgang mountain and those
Korea is that there might be the one area and those Korea might have some
interested talk with the South Korea and as we discuss that to solve many issue
technical issues of sending South Korean travelers to North Korea two Koreas have
to sit down and talk to solve all those issues so I believe that special envoy
leader whom probably brewing bringing up this issue to make North Korea tempt to
come back to the discussion with the South Korea so South Korea will have to
overcome many hurdles to push through resumption of inter-korean tourism but
it is one thing that North Korea certainly has interest in now to the
issue of a deploying South Korean troops to the Strait of Hormuz
US Secretary of State Pompeyo has told foreign minister Kong that all nations
that hold economic interest in the region should participate in joint
defense could this be seen as an open request to Seoul again yet again to
dispatch its troops there the US government has been demanding all the
allies and partners to actively participate in stabilizing effort in a
stir in the Strait of Hormuz so UK and Bahrain has already declared that they
are going to join the efforts of the United States in the region and
Australia is going to send their troops to the region but officially they are
not joining the US efforts they are joining their there they sending their
troops there individually independently from the US efforts so I think that is
something that we can benchmark so if if South Korean government believes that
it’s necessary for South Korean government to participate in stabilizing
effort we might be able to say that obviously is our independent efforts to
to make our ships safely travel through the Strait of Hormuz so you think that
would be the most prudent call South Korean government can make at this point
to send the troops to the region but independently from Washington’s joint
defense if we say that we are joining the u.s. to to defend South Korean ships
and international ships against Iran in my sounds like we are antagonizing
Iran’s and Iranian forces so I think that there might be the prudent way to
cover our action and actually indeed it’s our national interest to protect
our ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz so I think even though that
action is the same but the we have enough excuse to send our own troops to
protect our ships there right and also we have to mention that Tehran is an
important economic business partner for South Korea now we’re also waiting for
an agree and between Seoul and Washington on
their defense cost-sharing negotiations South Korea’s foreign ministry stated
differences still remain between the two sides could the u.s. be linking the
burden sharing issue with sending troops to strait of hormuz it’s like the
question that whether we can get some credit by sending our troops to Hormuz
in discussing the burden sharing but ensuring negotiations but it’s a very
difficult but assuring issue we are we are asking for more than like five-year
deal this time but the sending the troops the Hormuz is like one time one
time action so I think how to calculate sending troops the whole room moves can
be the calculate in the body sharing is very difficult and another one is that
South Korean government and South Korea has been country viewing to the Alliance
in a various ways and president Trump does not care or most of them that is
why he want to raise the financial payment by South Korean government like
five times so I think that if we if if the united state government fail says
that they are going to take into account of sending the sending south korean
government troops the horror moves into the negotiation i think it’s a good sign
but it’s going to be a very difficult as an expert who’s been following every
single detail of the defense cost sharing between walls a cell in
washington for a very long time what would you say is the best feasible
approach to narrow their gap and strike a deal so it’s not only my opinion but
many in washington says that the best way to make some compromise on the
negotiation is that there are some nominal increase in the SMA or
negotiations like 4% or 5% but South Korean government promised president
Trump that South Korea is going to purchase a
lot of US weapons in the next five years or next ten years and South Korean
government needs those kind of assets to have our up come back to South Korea
because that’s where that’s the area where South Korean government has been
lacking so South Korean government we are going to buy those assets anyway but
we promised president Trump that we are going to buy for president Trump and
president Trump can be satisfied because South Korean government is going to
increase the SMA in a nominal rapist our Korean government can promise a lot
increase in the weapon import so I think that’s the kind of way that a much
discussed in DC so we don’t know yet however then might be the possibility
that to size and up in negotiation a South Korea Japan foreign ministers
meeting was also held in the US but not much progress was seen there Japan’s top
diplomat only reiterated Tokyo’s request to Seoul which is to come up with a
better solution to resolve the compensation issue of Japan’s wartime
forced labor how do you analyze the Seoul the current seoul-tokyo relations
and what are some of the possible solutions to that the immunity issue
between Korea and Japan is how we are going to solve the issue of those
Japanese companies asset hold by South Korean government now so if a South
Korean government and South Korean supreme court decides to liquidate those
those assets in March or April then it’s going to be really tough for the revive
the two countries relations so that is why two countries are trying to make
some solution before were South Korea’s a Supreme Court make a liquidation
decision but the problem is that the proposal made by speaker moon last year
was rejected by the victims and victims and NGOs in South Korea so it’s going to
be very difficult for South Korean government
to make another proposal because as president moon emphasized in the new
years a press conference that his approach is like victim-centered
approach which means that victim has to accept a proposal in in advance so I
think that unless South Korean government makes another proposal which
is accepted by both victims and the Japanese government we have very we have
a crime you might have a crisis in March or April because our Supreme Court has
to liquidate those assets to give money back to the victims so I think we have
very imminent issues there one last question for you while signing the phase
one trade deal with China u.s. president Trump has said that China is helping us
with North Korea you don’t see it in a deal but they’ve been very helpful with
respect to Kim jong-un how do you interpret this so Steven Biggins
behavior in December in South Korea and president Trump’s birthday card to
chairman came in in January and another mention or when another mentioned by
President Trump when he signs our deal with the China I think this is efforts
by the US government’s to manage the issues on the Korean Peninsula so they
are not really interested in negotiating with the North Korea by law by lowering
the sanctions or leaving the sanctions however they want to manage the current
situation on the Korean Peninsula so by by having these kind of efforts if North
Korea does not make any provocations it’s fine for the US government so I
think the reason why a president Trump mentioned Kim jong-un when he signs the
deal with a China he puts another a pressure onto North
Korea that it’s not only the United States China is on the same page with
the United States when it comes to the stabilizing issue on the Korean
Peninsula all right many thanks to you doctor well
we appreciate the time tonight thank you