Chung stated that the Bush administration’s compellence policy was a failure. At the outset of the Bush administration, North Korea only had the capacity and fissile material to produce one or two nuclear weapons, he said. However, during the last 8 years, North Korea not only carried out a nuclear test but also secured enough fissile material to produce 7 to 9 nuclear weapons.
Chung described meetings with North Korean President Kim Jong-il and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and the role he played in the six-party talks of 2005. He suggested that President Obama, in order to rekindle the peace process, appoint a special envoy “of global caliber that will promptly focus on this problem…someone like former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Clinton, during his last months in the presidency, was preparing a visit to Pyongyang to meet with Chairman Kim….A meeting between these two leaders would skip that 8-year void under the Bush administration and create a bridge that would lead to the diplomatic resolution of nuclear issues.”
Recounting the waves of development in the Korean state, from the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago to the information technology revolution of the 1990’s. He posited that by expanding and advancing the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) project situated in North Korea just north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) the Koreas could usher in a fourth wave of change.
The industrial park sits just 40 miles from Seoul, and receives electrical power from South Korea. The goal of the project is to provide an opportunity for South Korean firms to tap low-cost, skilled labor, while providing the North Korean economy with a needed economic boost. When the GIC is fully finished in 2012 it will ultimately contain 25 square miles of industrial factories and employ approximately 700,000 workers. Analysts, such as Park Suhk Sam, at the Bank of Korea, expect the park to raise revenue of up to $500 million in annual wages for North Korea by 2012.
While proud of the fact that as Unification Minister he was able to turn the GIC blueprint into a tangible project, Chung cautioned that the Gaesong Project was currently facing crisis and would deteriorate due to newly imposed entry requirements. He placed blame for this at the “sudden turn in the current government’s position toward North Korea from that of engagement policy pursued by Presidents Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-hyun to hard-line.”
“For the past year, the conservative government took office, (and) efforts for reconciliation which we have been trying to build up during the past 10 years, are crumbling,” Chung said. “We are moving backwards.” He cautioned Pyongyang that a move to use the GIC in order to pressure South Korea would only harm the North. He was certain that if the nuclear problem could be solved “Gaeseong will be an important economic foundation… From a mid to long term perspective, the GIC can become a fortress that leads the kind of economic development that China experienced.”
During his tenure as minister, Mr. Chung carried out a North Korean policy based on his vision that peace can be achieved on the Korean peninsula only once North Korea can survive economically and eventually realize economic prosperity. This he dubbed the Peace-Economy. Mr. Chung's Peace-Economy takes one step further former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-jung's Sunshine Policy, which called for the peaceful co-existence and reconciliation of the two Koreas. Mr. Chung's policy took on a series of projects designed to revive the North Korean economy which would induce reforms and opening of the North Korean society, creating the grounds to solve the many problems facing the Pyongyang regime. — Stephen Bornick