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Asia Minute: Challenges of Talking with North Korea

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South Korea has proposed a round of direct talks with North Korea in less than a week. A South Korean cabinet minister says one topic of the high level talks would be North Korea’s possible participation in the Winter Olympics. The history of talks between the two governments goes back decades, and has been uneven at best. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

South Korea’s Unification Minister publicly suggested next Tuesday as a day for high-level talks between officials of North and South Korea. The first such discussions in two years.

A lot has happened since then, missile launches and nuclear tests from the North, and political change in the South.

President Moon Jae-in came into office in May, a definite move to the political left from his predecessor Park Geun Hye—who was removed from office following allegations of influence peddling.

Two months later, Moon offered to hold direct talks with the North, but got no response.

Talking with the North has always been a complicated process.

As for the United States, the highest level meeting took place in October, 2000—when then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright traveled to Pyongyang and met with Kim Jong-il, father of the current leader.

For a number of years that followed, discussions with North Korea focused on the so-called “Six-Party Talks.” Started in 2003, after North Korea withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

In addition to North Korea, the half dozen countries included the United States and South Korea, as well as Japan, Russia and China.

Last summer, China’s Foreign Minister suggested the time has come for those six-party talks to resume.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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