11 April 2005

Expect an Interesting Week

This week should be rather interesting on the Korean front. First, ROK President Roh Moo Hyun is in Germany – and if former Pres. Kim Dae Jung’s German visit is any measure, Roh may well say something interesting. Whatever he says, he is unlikely to back away from the peace and prosperity program and if anything will accelerate it and ask for foreign assistance in bringing North Korea into the modern world. Roh has already asked Kim Jong Il to make good on his promise to Kim DJ and visit Seoul. And Kim Jong Il will have an opportunity to respond, at least indirectly. The DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly will hold its delayed session this week. Give the delay, and the month-long disappearance of Kim Jong Il, something major was discussed and sorted out, and the decision to even have the SPA, coupled with Kim’s re-emergence, suggests something interesting is to come – perhaps a successor for the dear leader, or a new economic push, or some major breakthrough on the nuke issue (either more likely DPRK basically saying if there are no talks that’s OK as long as DPRK is recognized as being a nuke state, or, the less likely, that DPRK will suddenly play Libya and declare itself nuke free). Also coming soon is Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Pyongyang, something Hu will only do if he expects to get something useful from North Korea – and that useful thing may be announced or quietly revealed at the SPA session. While the options are still broad, this week will undoubtedly be looked at in retrospect as fairly significant in the realm of Korean relations.

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