What Kim is offering are a ‘verifiable mutual series of measures designed to ensure that the option of war gets taken off the table’ in the Korean peninsula.
Supreme Commander of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong Un is much less dogmatic about ideological correctness than his father Kim Jong Il (who was deeply influenced intellectually by Russia). Grandfather Kim Il Sung, on the other hand, was essentially a Korean patriot (or nationalist), much the same way as Mao Zedong was a Communist Chinese patriot, who more than doubled the territory controlled by Beijing since taking over power in 1949. Kim Jong Un takes after his grandfather in the sense that his self-defined mission (according to those with close access to his thinking) is to ensure the creation of a “Mighty Korea”. In other words, to “recapture in the future the glory that was Korea in the past”. It may be remembered that the Korean nation has a long civilisational history and tradition, parts of which originate in India. The DNA of Indian royalty is held by some Korean nationalists to flow in their veins, because of the migration to Korea in the distant past of a princess from India and her retinue, and despite their proximity to China, many in the North Korean hierarchy look upon India in a friendly manner, in contrast to their views on Japan, which are viscerally and near-universally hostile.
Unlike Kim Il Sung, who was ready to go to war to achieve his objective of unification, Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un “does not want war and is instead looking to a guaranteed peace on the Korean peninsula”. After the manner in which Saddam Hussein and subsequently Muammar Gaddafi were despatched to the afterlife despite surrendering their WMD stockpiles in exchange for explicit promises of non-aggression by NATO, the third generation leader of North Korea from the Kim family is “solid as a rock that only nuclear capability will protect him and the country he commands” from a similar fate. Hence, what he is offering on the table are a “verifiable mutual series of measures designed to ensure that the option of war gets taken off the table” in the Korean peninsula. It is perhaps because any “unilateral and unprovoked” attack on either the RoK or Japan is ruled out by those with access to the Supreme Commander that RoK President Moon Jae-In seems ready to fashion a rapprochement with Kim Jong Un such as would open the DPRK to investment from the southern part of the peninsula and dispel continuing fears of conflict across the DMZ. Initially, South Korean backtracking on Moon’s initial moves in the direction of a “Bright Sunshine” policy towards North Korea led to the belief in Pyongyang that the elected President of South Korea was less than sincere in his protestations of peace and cooperation. Subsequently, the view has gained currency in the pool of decision-makers in North Korea that “it is pressure from Japan exercised mainly through Washington rather than lack of sincerity” that has forced President Moon to temporarily push into the icebox plans for greater cooperation with the North.
Halting either nuclear and missile development until the objective of second strike capability reaching the US east coast is achieved, or dismantling the governance structure in North Korea, has from the start been off limits for the DPRK, although “Boltonians” within the US Beltway still believe both to be possible. More than “nine confirmed attempts to physically liquidate the Supreme Leader and those around him” have been identified by the pervasive security apparatus of the DPRK, and the previous regime of President Park Geun-Hye has been “either the prime mover or associated with six of these”. Since President Moon came to power in Seoul on a peace and prosperity platform in 2017, at least a few suspected assassination efforts have been traced, although the “finger of guilt” has been pointed not to President Moon but towards the “anti-Trump US deep state”, some operations being carried out together with “collaborator elements” in South Korea. Although no evidence has been discovered of a Tokyo hand in such attempts, the view in Pyongyang is that the assassination attempts had encouragement and possible clandestine support from Japan. Whether such suspicions are accurate or not is a matter of conjecture. Both the “Bright Sunshine” policy as well as a solution based on “One Nation Two States” was suggested by India’s first professor of geopolitics in his efforts at ensuring an assured peace on the peninsula. Kim Jong Un seeks to develop the DPRK in the manner that the PRC has since the 1980s, so that the two Koreas would be bigger in overall GDP than Japan, a country that along with the US figures repeatedly in the minds of those in studying the security challenges for Pyongyang. Both Kim and Moon are in their different ways Korean patriots with immense pride in their people. Those interested in a Bright Sunshine policy must be chafing at the restraints put on the RoC by Washington. Interestingly, John Bolton is a backer of Joe Biden in the 2020 polls, in whose team the Atlanticists enjoy a significant advantage over those alive to the reality of the Indo-Pacific century, and to fashioning a policy matrix relevant to the 21st rather than the 20th century.