September 27, 2023

To talk to North Korea or not – what’s it to be?

If we're unclear about N. Korea sanctions goals, what can we expect?

A recent Hankyoreh news article quoted the North Korean foreign minister as saying that the opportunity to “denuclearize the Korean peninsula seems to have been lost because of the U.S.” For some time now, Pyongyang has been attempting to engage Washington in dialogue, though prior to this recent statement, the reason was not quite clear. Even though this may simply be a ploy to get sanctions removed with no intent to sincerely discuss denuclearization, it seems counterproductive for the U.S. to reject out of hand any invitation to the table.

In fact, according to an NK News report, a team of international experts declared that the very goal of sanctions is indeed dialogue. Ignoring for the moment the misuse of the word goal – dialogue is not an end-state, it is an activity – and in view of the refusal to engage by Washington, it seems that the true aim of sanctions is punishment, even though currently it is politically incorrect to baldly state that.