Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 16-Feb-07
South Korean politicians are 'euphoric' over North Korea nuclear deal

Web Log - February, 2007

South Korean politicians are 'euphoric' over North Korea nuclear deal

The young "386 generation" that run the government may well be in over their heads.

I transcribed Wednesday morning's very interesting BBC commentary by Charles Scanlon in Seoul, where he said things that don't appear in the BBC's online coverage:

"We are seeing something approaching euphoria, from at least among some members of the South Korean government, in reaction to this agreement that was signed in Beijing.

The Unification Minister who's reponsible for relations with the North said this could be a turning point in the establishment of a peace regime on the Korean peninusula.

And certainly the South Koreans do feel to some extent vindicated by what has been in effect a major change in U.S. policy toward North Korea.

They've been urging a more conciliatory approach from the very beginning, and they're certainly very relieved that the Americans now do seem serious about getting a negotiated settlement with the North Koreans, and they've softened some of their pressure tactics.

The president, Roh Moo-hyun, said he's expecting a very easy implementation of this accord.

I think there we are seeing really wishful thinking on the President's part, because after all any agreement with the North Koreans is not going to come easy.

They're going to haggle down to the last moment on all the terms, and of course, it is a fairly vaguely worded agreement. the North Koreans have said nothing at this stage about giving up the nuclear weapons that they've already built.

They're just talking about shutting down the reactor at Yongbyon, and there's been nothing about the alleged second secret nuclear program that the Americans say they've been running. But either way, the South Koreans do see an opportunity in this to push ahead with their policy of reconciliation.

They're going to be meeting with the North Koreans in the next few days, and I think we're likely to see some generous food aid and other assistance from the South Koreans, even before the aid gets shipped in related specifically to the deal."

It certainly would not be surprising if South Koreans are in a much worse state of anxiety than Americans are. After all, we may be stuck in Iraq, and we may fear terrorist attacks, but those all seem very distant.

But for South Koreans, the danger is right on their doorstep. With a population of 10.3 million, Seoul is the fifth largest megacity in the world, and is only about 50 miles from the North Korean border.

Thus, a decision by North Korea's unpredictable president Kim Jong-il to invade South Korea could bring conventional missiles to Seoul in a matter of minutes, and ground troops within an hour or two.

And now, with nuclear weapons in the picture, it's quite reasonable that the people in Seoul are going to be much more anxious than the people in Washington.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Seoul is suffering from the same level of incompetence as Washington, because the same post-World War II generations are in charge. But in Seoul it's actually worse because the leadership skipped a generation, creating an enormous amount of turmoil.

So it's not the least surprising that the BBC reports find South Korean leaders "euphoric" over a plan with little chance of succeeding, or that President Roh Moo-hyun's expectation of a "very easy implementation" is just "wishful thinking."

Seoul is very much like Washington these days, only worse -- there's bickering, only more of it; there's incompetence, only more of it; and there's the same manic-depressive, depending mainly on the current status of relations with North Korea.

Brief history of S. Korea since World War II

Korea is one of the oldest nations on earth, with some 4000 years of history. Here we can only give a brief summary of its extremely tumultuous history in the 1900s:

Cognitive Dissonance in Roh's administration

There are clear, sharp differences between the 386ers policies, as implemented by Roh Moo-hyun, and the previous generation's policies, as implemented by President Park Chung-hee before his 1979 assassination. Thus, Park's generation grew up during the extreme poverty of the Korean War. The 386ers have known nothing but peace and prosperity.

We thus have a situation where the government is being run by fairly young ministers with little experience in governing, with an ideological policy of reconciling with North Korea, a country that may be about to invade them.

That explains the "cognitive dissonance" and why they are "euphoric" over this week's accord, and why President Roh is engaging in "wishful thinking." They're suffering from the same manic-depression disease as Washington, and they'll be moving from a manic phase to a new depressive phase before long.

Smiling North Korean news anchor announces successful nuclear weapons test in a gleeful, happy voice in October, 2006 <font size=-2>(Source: CNN)</font>
Smiling North Korean news anchor announces successful nuclear weapons test in a gleeful, happy voice in October, 2006 (Source: CNN)

We know a lot less about how the North Koreans are feeling, but we can be pretty sure that they have their manic periods as well. You'll recall that when the North Koreans announced their nuclear test last October, they were positively ebullient, as illustrated by the grins and smiles on the lady reading the news in the adjoining graphic. Needless to say, that test threw both South Korea and Japan into a panic.

The Agreement

It's well to remember that this is not the first time that North Korea has agreed to end its nuclear program. They played a little joke on the world in September, 2005, when they announced that they would end their nuclear program.

President Bush said, "Five nations have spoken and said it is not in the world's interests that North Korea have a nuclear weapon. And now there's a way forward. And part of the way forward is for the North Koreans to understand that we're serious about this and that we expect there to be a verifiable process. In other words they have said, in principle, that they will abandon their weapons programs."

It took only one day for the North Korean Foreign Ministry to issue a statement saying, "The U.S. should not even dream of the issue of North Korea's dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing light-water reactors. This is our just and consistent stand as solid as a deeply rooted rock."

So now, North Korea has once again agreed to end its nuclear development program. They didn't say what they would do with the 5 or 10 nuclear weapons they already have, but they have agreed to stop their nuclear program in return for massive amounts of food and oil aid from the West.

I thought this was a nice picture of the East Room of the White House during the Feb 14 press conference.
I thought this was a nice picture of the East Room of the White House during the Feb 14 press conference.

Here's President Bush's statement at a Wednesday press conference:

"Before I'm going to take some questions, I'd like to comment about one other diplomatic development, and that took place in the Far East. At the six-party talks in Beijing, North Korea agreed to specific actions that will bring us closer to a Korea Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons. Specifically, North Korea agreed that within 60 days it will shut down and seal all operations at the primary nuclear facilities it has used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. It has agreed to allow international inspectors to verify and monitor this progress. It is committed to disclosing all of its nuclear programs as an initial step toward abandoning these programs.

In exchange, five other parties at the table -- that would be China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States -- have got commitments. We will meet those commitments as this agreement is honored. Those commitments include economic, humanitarian and energy assistance to the people of North Korea.

This is a unique deal. First of all, unlike any other agreement, it brings together all of North Korea's neighbors in the region, as well as the United States. The agreement is backed by a United Nations Security Council resolution. That resolution came about -- the sanctions came about as a result of the resolution because of a unanimous vote in the Security Council.

This is good progress. It is a good first step. There's a lot of work to be done to make sure that the commitments made in this agreement become reality, but I believe it's an important step in the right direction."

A lot of other people are skeptical, including former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John R. Bolton. "It is rewarding bad behavior of the North Koreans by promising fuel oil," he said. "It's a bad signal to North Korea and it's a bad signal to Iran. ... The message to would-be arms proliferators around the world is that if you hold out long enough and wear down the State Department negotiators, eventually you get rewarded."

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the trend prediction is that North and South Korea are headed for a major genocidal war with each other to decide who will rule the country after reunification. Since we have a defense agreement with South Korea, we'd be drawn into such a war, as would China and Japan.

This trend prediction indicates that the nuclear accord reached this week will not survive. It's lasted longer than one day, which was the life of the previous agreement, but it's very unlikely to last long.

The North Koreans have repeatedly used subterfuge and nuclear blackmail to get what they want from the West. This time, they've been promised a very great deal of foreign aid, but they have to meet specific commitments for that aid to continue. Let's wait and see how they'll manage that situation.

Meanwhile, we can't expect much from the South Koreans with their current government. The 386er generation, which runs the government, is too young to handle the situation's nuances, and the danger of miscalculation is very high. It's hard to know how they'll react if, for example, the North Koreans test another nuclear weapon. (16-Feb-07) Permanent Link
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