The younger son of former President Kim Dae Jung is one of the few South Koreans who met Kim Jong Un. Expect that a second meeting is not far away.
Six years ago, Kim Hong-gul spoke with the current North Korean leader as part of a visiting delegation that attended the funeral of the late dictator Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang. Now he is looking for another meeting after becoming head of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, a non-profit group that promotes exchanges between two Koreas.
In an interview on December 1, Kim Hong-gul said a new era of reconciliation could be possible after North Korea declared that completed its nuclear force. Kim Jong Un made the announcement after the launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile with improved technology that said it can launch a nuclear warhead anywhere in the US. UU
"It could be a blaze that signals the start of negotiations," said Kim Hong-gul, who is appointed to take office next month. "By the end, Kim would no longer need to test missiles, so he might suggest a conversation with the South and the US, possibly in his New Year's speech, while refraining from further testing."
U.S. Challenges North Korea with exercises involving 230 aircraft
While the United States has long maintained that North Korea must be willing to abandon its nuclear program to begin talks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last month that it can imagine having a conversation before the formal negotiations. Russian lawmaker Vitaly Pashin, who recently visited Pyongyang, said on Monday that North Korean officials are ready for individual or multi-party talks now that they have become a nuclear power capable of hitting the continental United States. .
Kim Hong-gul said the United States and North Korea could save face by talking to each other now, since the world still does not believe that Pyongyang has completed its nuclear program. There are doubts about whether a warhead could survive reentry into the atmosphere and go to specific locations.
"You can both tell your people that the other surrendered and came to the path of dialogue," Kim Hong-gul said.
North Korea has so far rejected South Korea's attempts to enter into talks, and has repeatedly said that it will not give up its nuclear weapons unless the United States abandons its hostile policy. The United States and South Korea began a large-scale military exercise on Monday with 230 aircraft, an exercise that prompted North Korea to warn of "the highest-level hard-line countermeasure in history"
. of the Father
It is not clear if Kim Hong-gul would be able to close the gap between the two parties. His father was a democracy activist who rose to the presidency after surviving badbadination attempts and a death sentence. He became the only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize of South Korea for his so-called Sun Politics that attempted to defuse tension in the divided peninsula.
Kim Hong-gul hopes to continue with his father's work. He said he spoke for the last time with North Korean officials three or four months ago to present ideas for resuming exchanges, including sending an endangered animal to a zoo in Pyongyang.
Diplomats and badysts see Kim as a strong candidate The Korean president, Moon Jae-in, decided to send a special envoy to Pyongyang, in part because he has a direct line with officials in North Korea. Media such as the military hotlines were intercepted by the harshest administration of former President Park Geun-hye, who was charged earlier this year.
Kim Hong-gul remembered the time he met the North The leader of Korea, who was then around 20 years old.
"Jong Un was noted for his skin that looked as perfect as white jade," he said in the interview. "The first impression that impressed the whole world, including myself when it first appeared, was that it seemed too young to govern, but it turns out that we probably all underestimated it as a leader."
While United Nations sanctions hamper the resumption of inter-Korean exchanges, Kim Hong-gul sees space for others to play a role. He said that sending food and medicine to children in the impoverished nation could be a good start.
Kim Hong-gul said that his father created the reconciliation council 20 years ago to do things that government officials can not undertake. The entity has a counterpart in North Korea with the same name.
"Repeat," he said. "State-to-state communications are cut off, so this is the time for the private sector to play a role in defusing tensions."