The Future of Canada-DPR Korea Relations


Weingartner Consulting is proud to present the publication of Failure of Engagement or Failure to Engage, the future of Canada-DPR Korea relations. To read publication, click here.

The publication is the culmination of a year of hard work, beginning with the joining of world class experts on North Korea in the latest Virtual ThinkNet (VTN) Scenarios project. Using email and an internet-based virtual platform, more than 50 Canadian and international DPRK watchers, scholars, civil servants and NGO representatives have contributed to a process that is culminating in the creation of narratives that project four possible futures in Canada-DPRK relations within the next decade.

Focal Question: A Role for Canada?

Grappling with the focal question, “Will Canada play a significant role in encouraging the DPRK towards regional peace and stability by 2020?” participants listed 78 major and minor “forces” that drive Canada’s role in the region. The most critical and uncertain of these drivers were then positioned on a matrix that produced parameters for four distinct futures. The four scenarios were the springboard of a face-to-face consultation in Toronto on November 11th, 2009. At the day-long meeting, participants formulated strategic options for Canadian policy at both governmental and civil society levels.

The VTN ‘Brain Trust’ of North Korea experts spent the Summer defining Canada’s place in a very complex region. Although Canada is one of a small number of Western countries that has diplomatic relations with the DPRK, it has so far played a very limited role, loosely defined as a ‘not-business-as-usual’ policy. Opinions are divided as to whether Canada should, or even could, play a more active role. While the Canadian government has decided to take a back seat to the leadership of the USA in the region, some Canadian NGOs have urged a more active role, providing humanitarian assistance, English language education for North Koreans, and maintaining people-to-people contacts.

Strength in Diversity

Those involved in the Virtual ThinkNet’s ‘Brain Trust’ straddle a variety of professions and political allegiances. Some members are in the public service, and therefore participated anonymously.

What differentiates the Virtual ThinkNet from the many think-TANKs out there is that think tanks usually operate from an ideologically fixed position. Because of the inclusiveness of the VTN’s Brain Trust on North Korea, our scenarios possess an authenticity that is unique.

Sponsored by the Toronto-based Canada-DPR Korea Association, the project was managed by Weingartner Consulting, publishers of the CanKor. Weingartner Consulting’s Virtual ThinkNet hosts scenarios-building processes that mimic methodologies generally used in weeklong face-to-face workshops. With the help of Canadian tech-marketing company the SomaeGroup, the VTN used the depth and breadth of innovative social networking technologies to achieve a fertile collaboration that is accessible to busy professionals.

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CONVERSATION WITH THE PATRIOT — Part 13


The long awaited latest chapter to Erich Weingartner’s conversation with the fictional North Korean Patriot has finally arrived!

The North Korean Patriot, a figment of Erich Weingartner’s imagination and composite character crafter from a quarter of a century of experience interacting with both North and South Koreans, is a regular feature in the CanKor News Report.

Part 13 – by Erich Weingartner, Editor, CanKor, 16 October 2009

Erich Heinz Weingartner:   Mr. Pak, I really wish there were a better
way to communicate with you. It’s been too long since we last talked.

Pak Kim Li:   I called you once in May.

EHW:    Yes, and although I have hardly traveled at all this past year,
you call me on the one day when I’m out of town.

PKL:    Perhaps I should tell you what has been happening lately.

EHW:    I know what has been happening lately. The front pages of
newspapers the world over have been reporting what’s happening lately!
Is there no way I can call or email you other than by leaving a
message at the DPRK UN mission?

PKL:    You can email me to the Ministry’s address.

EHW:    Whatever method I choose, it takes a dozen censors to come to a
decision as to whether or not to forward my request to you.

PKL:    You exaggerate.

EHW:    I just want to register my complaint, that’s all. I thought by
now they had enough confidence in me — and in you, for that matter.

PKL:    I got all your messages. But as I am trying to explain, I have
been busy.

EHW:    So it was YOUR decision not to communicate with me? I suppose it
makes sense. You can’t possibly be happy about your country’s recent
activities.

PKL:    What are you talking about? What has my country done that I
wouldn’t support?

EHW:    Intercontinental ballistic missile test, underground nuclear
test… shall I go on? When we first began with these interviews in
2006, just after your military developers had tested an
intercontinental missile, I got the distinct impression that you did
not share your colleagues’ enthusiasm for military solutions.

PKL:    You got the wrong impression. What I regretted was the need for
our country to pursue military options under pressure from our
enemies. What I regretted was that my country is not allowed to live
in peace. In my opinion it would be better to settle our differences
through peaceful debate and friendly competition. Unfortunately, it is
my country’s fate to be surrounded by friends we cannot trust and
enemies that seek to destroy us. And by the way, none of this has
anything to do with why I was unable to communicate.

EHW:    If that is the case, I stand corrected… and curious. Were you
working on former US President Bill Clinton’s visit to Pyongyang by
any chance?

PKL:    Mr. Erich, don’t assume you know us just because of your
intermittent contact with us for the past 25 years.

EHW:    My apologies, Mr. Pak. What have you been up to these past
several months?

PKL:    If you will just let me explain, you will wish to congratulate
me.

EHW:    You’ve been promoted?

PKL:    I have been fathered.

EHW:    Come again?

PKL:    I have become a second father!

EHW:    Your wife had another baby? That’s fantastic! My goodness… Yes,
of course! Congratulations are in order… to you and even more so to
your wife. Boy? Girl?

PKL:    Girl, just like I was hoping.

EHW:    You never mentioned your wife was pregnant!

PKL:    You never asked! You ask me about politics, economics and
military matters; you talk to me of religion, philosophy and ideology,
but you never ask any relevant questions about my life.

EHW:    I thought your wife didn’t want any more children. I was afraid
this was too personal a topic… too sensitive an issue for me to
raise.

PKL:    You remember when the New York Philharmonic Orchestra visited
Pyongyang last year?

EHW:    How could I forget?

PKL:    Well… my wife, as I told you, was deeply moved by the
experience. It gave her renewed hope. She decided we should have
another child.

EHW:    So you plan your family in accordance with the political climate
in your country?

PKL:    As you know, my wife suffers from depression. This became acute
after the death of our first daughter during the arduous march of
Juche 85.

EHW:    The famine years… Yes, of course I remember it well. What a
tragedy for your entire family!

PKL:    She said that if she could not protect her children, she would
never again want to give life to a child.

EHW:    But she changed her mind…

PKL:    When President Kim Dae Jung came to pay respects to Chairman Kim
Jong Il, she was swept up in the great wave of hope that washed over
the entire Korean Peninsula. She felt that now there was a future for
our children. Of course, I was more than happy to oblige.

EHW:    And the result was that handsome and no doubt clever and talented
young man who calls you father. I am sorry I was never allowed to meet
him, but my wife and I were pleased to meet your wife at that dinner
party we hosted in our apartment… So you’re telling me the visit by
the New York Philharmonic Orchestra had a similar effect on her?

PKL:    As you know, my wife is a pianist. She lives in a world where
emotion is an important asset to her art.

EHW:    Whereas you live in a world where emotion is a liability.

PKL:    Not really. Even in the political world, emotion can be an asset.
It is a positive force to love your country and hate your enemies.
Emotions are tools for good not only in the arts. But in both cases,
they need to be guided and trained. A musician can express true
emotion only if she possesses the skills required for that expression.
When my wife plays piano, she disappears as a person. She becomes the
music she plays. Her skill and her emotion dissolve into one reality.
That certainly wouldn’t be the case if I were the pianist! <laughing>
You would never be able to guess my feelings if you heard me play the
piano.

EHW:    And when you play at politics? Would I be any better at guessing
your emotion? When you say that UN Security Council sanctions are a
declaration of war, or when you threaten to turn Seoul into a sea of
fire, am I supposed to cringe with fear, or should I shrug my
shoulders and take it as a sign that it is your side that is afraid?

PKL:    Of course you should always take us at our word.

EHW:    But what is the emotion behind those words?

PKL:    Without the required skills, emotions can become a dangerous
disturbance in the political realm. Technical training is necessary
for acquiring musical skills. In a similar way, we need guiding
principles in politics to even know what it is we are feeling, let
alone learning how to express those feelings. That is where my
countrymen have the advantage. Our Juche idea explains why we feel the
way we do. It expresses our feelings through our revolutionary
slogans.

EHW:    How can an ideology possibly know what you are feeling, or worse
yet, what you should be feeling? We call that brainwashing.

PKL:    Of course you call it brainwashing, because you have no interest
in understanding. You come to our country with an individualistic
mind-set. You read or hear our slogans poorly translated into English,
and you judge them to be formulaic and hollow. Since you don’t
understand the deeper meanings, you conclude that only a brainwashed
person could respond emotionally to our precepts, or base his entire
life on them.

EHW:    Mr. Pak, the election slogan for the Supreme People’s Assembly
was “Let everyone vote in agreement!” How much emotional content does
that pack?

PKL:    About as much as Mr. Obama’s election slogan “Yes we can!”

EHW:    OK, bad example.

PKL:    You should come to one of our mass rallies and hear the people
shout and sing…

EHW:    I have done that, Mr. Pak, on a number of occasions!

PKL:    Let’s not call them “slogans,” if that’s a perceptual stumbling
block. I know that word has negative connotations in the capitalist
world. Don’t think of them in the same category as Coca Cola ads.
Think of them as proverbs: the collected wisdom of the brightest minds
our country and society and political system has produced. When we
shout or sing these — in unison — together with thousands of our
countrymen… you can feel the hair rise up on your arm.

EHW:    That’s exactly my problem. I attended one of your rallies with a
German colleague. When he witnessed the jubilation of tens of
thousands at the appearance of your leader on a balcony, he had
visions of millions of Germans shouting “Heil Hitler!” with
outstretched arms. After your nuclear test 100,000 people packed into
Kim Il Sung square In Pyongyang, shouting “Let’s smash the USA!” in
unison while punching their clenched fists in the air. Would you not
call those “emotions that have become a dangerous disturbance in the
political realm?”

PKL:    Not at all. Loving your country and hating your enemy — these
are healthy emotions. When we shout out our anger at the aggression
aimed against our country, together and in public… when what we feel
is echoed by tens of thousands of our compatriots… that is when we
come to know — to experience — the reality of our collective will.
That is when we come to know that together we will overcome our
enemies. And in that moment, feeling and knowing are one and the same.

EHW:    Except that they are not one and the same. What you describe is
what Sigmund Freud called crowd behaviour. Your wife didn’t just react
to the inter-Korean summit or the New York Philly visit as part of a
crowd. She made personal, life-altering decisions. And you obviously
supported her.

PKL:    Of course. I was thrilled! I always wanted two children, one of
each. Look, it is a good thing when our personal decisions reflect our
country’s needs — even a necessary thing. For us, the needs of our
people and the needs of our country are one and the same.

EHW:    And for the past six months your country needed you to stay home
to take care of your wife and your new baby. I didn’t realize that
fathers could take maternity leave in the DPRK.

PKL:    My work has prevented me from taking a vacation in several years.
My boss ordered me to stay home. Visits by foreigners had pretty much
stalled in the weeks and months after the nuclear test. I was allowed
to work on translations at home… which I very much enjoyed, of
course. It was a good time to have a baby.

EHW:    …on a personal level at least. Is your wife still happy with
her choice? Is she still hopeful about your country’s future?

PKL:    It was good that I could spend time with her. Her post-partum
depression was rather severe again. But if you are trying to extract
some political metaphor from my wife’s personal misfortunes, I warn
you to be careful.

EHW:    I wouldn’t do that, Mr. Pak. But this can’t be a very hopeful
period for either of you. Your leader’s illness, the renewed tensions
following missile and nuclear tests, UNSC sanctions, worsening
relationships with all your neighbours…

PKL:    It is certainly not the kind of progress we had in mind. That
much I admit.

EHW:    Then why this turn of events? Why antagonize the only US
President in recent history who promised to extend a hand to those
countries which were previously treated as enemy states?

PKL:    We have learned by bitter experience not to trust the worlds of
American presidents. Mr. Obama needs to satisfy American conservative
forces in order to push through his domestic policies. When dealing
with us, he needs to show how tough he is. So he reverts to abusing
the favourite whipping boy of all US administrations since the Second
World War. That happens to be us. His Secretary of Defence is the same
one appointed by Bush. Those who work in the State Department on
Korean issues are the same as under Bush.

EHW:    He appointed Mrs. Clinton as Secretary of State. Her husband came
closer than any other US President toward a rapprochement with you.
Had his term lasted any longer, he would probably have been the first
US President officially to visit Pyongyang.

PKL:    He just did visit Pyongyang. And President Carter did before him.

EHW:    I meant while still in office.

PKL:    That was ten years ago. Those were different times. We also do
not forget that at the beginning of his term, Bill Clinton was closer
than any previous US president to launching a nuclear strike against
us. Mrs. Clinton still has presidential ambitions, so she is using us
to appear stronger than Obama. On her first visit to our arch-enemy
Japan, she called our system a “tyranny”. She hinted that the Obama
administration is considering putting us back on the list of states
sponsoring terrorism. She is using us as the scapegoat. She even said
that we have a “succession struggle” going on in our country!

EHW:    Surely that must be something you are concerned about as well.

PKL:    There is no “succession struggle”.

EHW:    Your leader suffered a major stroke last summer. Does it not
concern you that no successor has been named?

PKL:    These are all fabrications of south Korean intelligence in order
to prop up another unpopular leader, south Korea’s Lee Myung-bak.

EHW:    There are many who think that the recent events in your country
have something to do with fears about the health of your leader. If he
were to die suddenly, the lack of a successor could undermine the
unity of your country. According to this interpretation, whipping up
anger within your population at an external enemy and flexing military
muscle is meant to discourage internal divisions.

PKL:    Where do you get such nonsense?

EHW:    The usual sources: in addition to the news media, I stay in touch
with numerous academic colleagues. We are all trying to make sense of
the recent turn of events. Last summer you blew up the cooling tower
of the only nuclear reactor you possess. It seemed that the Six-Party
Talks were finally showing progress. And that was during the
administration of Mr. Bush, certainly not a friend of yours. Now you
have detonated another underground nuclear test, not to speak of the
spent nuclear fuel rods you are in the process of uncanning. Your
government even declared it would start operating the uranium
centrifuges that you previously claimed you did not possess.

PKL:    All of this is in response to the hostile sanctions against us
perpetrated by the UN Security Council under pressure from your Obama
administration.

EHW:    I’m a Canadian. It’s not MY administration. But don’t forget that
the UN acted in response to your ballistic missile test…

PKL:    …which was nothing more nor less than exercizing our legitimate
right to put a satellite into orbit. There is no international law
against that. Where are the sanctions against south Korea which has
just done exactly the same thing? When south Korea launches a
satellite into orbit, nobody seems to view this as a threat. Yet after
our launch, Obama said, “Rules must be binding, violations must be
punished.”

EHW:    He was speaking about the non-proliferation regime…

PKL:    …from the comfortable position of president of the nation with
the largest nuclear arsenal in the world!

EHW:    Mr. Pak, I know all the arguments. The name-calling has been
going around in circles for decades. Surely you don’t want this
uncertain history to continue for yet another generation. Is this the
future you wish for your two children? Whatever is the truth about
your satellite launch, whatever is the real purpose for the nuclear
test, you must agree that these actions — coming at this precise
period of time, after such a hopeful start last summer, after the
election of a US President who seems genuinely interested in solving
past conflicts — you must surely have anticipated that these actions
would antagonize your enemies and alienate your friends. I always
thought of your leaders as shrewd negotiators. I always marvelled at
their ability to orchestrate events in order to get what they want.
But right now I am puzzled: why at this moment would you wish to unite
your enemies against you? How can that be good for you? I feel I am
missing something.

PKL:    What you are missing, what you are always missing, is our
perspective, our perception of what we need — what will benefit our
people and our children!

EHW:    Have you ever considered that your perception may be faulty? You
have had the opportunity to travel the world. You of all people should
be aware of the cost your children will have to bear — are already
bearing — as a result of the wasteful “military first” policy pursued
by your government. Your people have sacrificed so much for such a
long time, and yet they have been left far behind the rest of the
world in terms of economic development and social benefits.

PKL:    Do not lecture me, Mr. Erich, and especially do not make
theoretical comparisons based on your ideas of “development”. I have
seen the world, and what I saw was an American empire that has
exploited the global economy for the sake of its own excesses. It is
wasting resources at an abominable rate, while millions of children
die of starvation and disease the world over. And for all the wealth
that your overstuffed Western conglomerates have stolen, the President
of the United States — supposedly the most powerful man in the
world — is not even able to provide health care to his own people!
The very people who elected him!

EHW:    Have you noticed how every time I question your country’s
policies we end up discussing the faults of the USA instead?

PKL:    I assure you, capitulating to foreign powers will not ease the
suffering of our people.

EHW:    Neither are your current policies easing the suffering of your
people! What you call “capitulation” I call doing business. I call it
getting a grip on reality.

PKL:    What would you have us do that would not be capitulation?

EHW:    It’s time for your leaders to face facts. It’s time for you, Mr.
Pak, to face facts. Think of your children!

PKL:    I AM thinking of my children! Did you reflect even for one moment
what would be the consequences to my children’s lives if your desire
for our regime’s disappearance came true?

EHW:    Any change in your policies away from military threat would be
greatly rewarded by all those who have crossed you in the past. And if
you would give up your misguided nuclear weapons ambitions, the
richest countries of the world would write you a blank cheque. Or here’s
a thought: if you are really concerned about succession, how about
calling a general election for the next leader so that Kim Jong Il can
enjoy a restful and well-deserved retirement in his declining years?

PKL:    Before I give in to the temptation to debate your surrealistic
flights of fancy, I wish to point out that you have completely missed
the point as far as my children are concerned. Do you really believe
that any regime acceptable to our enemies would allow our leader a
restful retirement? For that matter, do you think a faithful servant
of the old regime like me will ever even reach retirement? How many of
us do you think will lose their jobs or even their lives according to
your scenario?

EHW:    All the more reason for you to make a deal! Even the conservative
ROK President Lee Myung-bak is proposing a “grand bargain”. At this
point you could pretty much dictate your terms!

PKL:    We ARE dictating our terms! It is your side that refuses to
accept our terms.

EHW:    Just give up the damn nukes! Everything else is negotiable.

PKL:    If we gave up our nukes, there would be nothing left to
negotiate! Look, if circumstances were really as you believe them to
be, and if the Americans were really interested in solving the Korean
“problem”, the only way they could disarm us is by convincing us that
there is no reason to fear them. Put yourself in my position. Would
you be convinced? Believe me, my family’s current situation is vastly
preferable to any alternative scenario that I can “realistically” —
your word — that I can realistically imagine. For now, please just
let me serve my leaders — my regime — the best way I can. Speaking
of which, I thought this time we were going to talk about my own
concept of god.

EHW:    It seems to me your Leaders are your god!

PKL:    Our Great Leader Kim Il Sung was the closest approximation to god
that we have had in human history. Juche teaches that man is the
master of all things. But man has not yet fully reached the pinnacle
of what it means to be a man. That ideal of the perfect man will
always be just out of reach, because man is always in a state of
evolution. That ideal of the perfect man…

EHW:    …or woman.

PKL:    That ideal of the perfect human being is what I would call my
god.

EHW:    But can that god save your children from the DPRK regime’s
apocalypse? The Platonic “god as ideal” concept is fine as a
philosophical construct. But does that help in the here and now?

PKL:    That is where the Great Leader comes in. We know who god is
because we Koreans have the great fortune to have our own model of
such a perfect man. He is not god, but looking at his example and
following his precepts will point us in the right direction toward
perfection.

EHW:    But you can’t have a relationship with perfection. You cannot
rely on perfection. You cannot communicate with perfection. How can
fallible men like you and I ever relate to an ideal that will by
definition never exist? If my doomsday predictions ever came true and
your regime faced its inevitable demise, what lesson would you teach
your son about the Juche god?

PKL:    I would tell my son then what I already tell him now: that he
must find his own excellence. Every person has within him a seed of
perfection. That seed will grow if it knows its place, if it is given
the right environment and nurture. You have to find within you that
place which resonates most purely with the ideal. When something
inside your spirit tells you this word or that word of the Great
Leader is true, when you experience the love of family, ancestors and
nation, when your heart sings with appreciation on hearing your mother
play the piano, when you feel your heart explode at the beauty of your
loved one, when you feel compelled by your love for all your
compatriots and your leader to take your place in the great design of
the revolution, that is when you will find your own personal seed of
excellence. That seed is the meaning of your life. That is the seed to
which you must dedicate your life. That is your personal contribution
to the architecture of perfection. That seed is a unique part of god
within your heart. And that seed is also your designated place in the
heart of god.

EHW:    Mr. Pak, I thank you for this conversation.

SCENARIOS ON THE FUTURE OF CANADA-DPRK RELATIONS


CENARIOS ON THE FUTURE OF CANADA-DPRK RELATIONS Erich Weingartner, CanKor Editor, 15 October 2009
World class experts on North Korea have joined minds in the inaugural Virtual ThinkNet (VTN) Scenarios project. Using email and an internet-based virtual platform, more than 50 Canadian and international DPRK watchers, scholars, civil servants and NGO representatives have contributed to a process that is culminating in the creation of narratives that project four possible futures in Canada-DPRK relations within the next decade.
Grappling with the focal question, “Will Canada play a significant role in encouraging the DPRK towards regional peace and stability by
2020?” participants listed 78 major and minor “forces” that drive Canada’s role in the region. The most critical and uncertain of these drivers were then positioned on a matrix that produced parameters for four distinct futures. The four scenarios whose narratives are currently being written will be fed into a face-to-face consultation in Toronto on November 11th. At the day-long meeting, participants will formulate strategic options for Canadian policy at both governmental and civil society levels.
“Over the summer, our ‘Brain Trust’ of North Korea experts has been defining the place of Canada in a very complex region. Although Canada is one of the small number of Western countries that has diplomatic relations with the DPRK, it has so far played a very limited role, loosely defined as a ‘not-business-as-usual’ policy,” says VTN scenarios leader Miranda Weingartner. “Opinions are divided as to whether Canada should, or even could, play a more active role. While our Government has decided to take a back seat to the leadership of the USA in the region, some Canadian NGOs have urged a more active role, providing humanitarian assistance, English language education for North Koreans, and maintaining people-to-people contacts.”
Weingartner stresses that those involved in the Virtual ThinkNet’s ‘Brain Trust’ straddle a variety of professions and political allegiances. Some members are in the public service, and therefore participate anonymously.
“This is what differentiates our think-NET from the many think-TANKs out there,” says Weingartner. “Think tanks usually operate from an ideologically fixed position. Because of the inclusiveness of our Brain Trust, our scenarios promise to possess an authenticity that is unique.”
Sponsored by the Toronto-based Canada-DPR Korea Association, the project is managed by Weingartner Consulting, publishers of the CanKor newsletter. Weingartner Consulting’s Virtual ThinkNet hosts scenarios-building processes that mimic methodologies generally used in weeklong face-to-face workshops. With the help of Canadian tech-marketing company the SomaGroup, the VTN uses the depth and breadth of innovative social networking technologies to achieve a fertile collaboration that is accessible to busy professionals.Erich Weingartner, CanKor Editor, 15 October 2009

World class experts on North Korea have joined minds in the inaugural Virtual ThinkNet (VTN) Scenarios project. Using email and an internet-based virtual platform, more than 50 Canadian and international DPRK watchers, scholars, civil servants and NGO representatives have contributed to a process that is culminating in the creation of narratives that project four possible futures in Canada-DPRK relations within the next decade.

Grappling with the focal question, “Will Canada play a significant role in encouraging the DPRK towards regional peace and stability by 2020?” participants listed 78 major and minor “forces” that drive Canada’s role in the region. The most critical and uncertain of these drivers were then positioned on a matrix that produced parameters for four distinct futures. The four scenarios whose narratives are currently being written will be fed into a face-to-face consultation in Toronto on November 11th. At the day-long meeting, participants will formulate strategic options for Canadian policy at both governmental and civil society levels.

“Over the summer, our ‘Brain Trust’ of North Korea experts has been defining the place of Canada in a very complex region. Although Canada is one of the small number of Western countries that has diplomatic relations with the DPRK, it has so far played a very limited role, loosely defined as a ‘not-business-as-usual’ policy,” says VTN scenarios leader Miranda Weingartner. “Opinions are divided as to whether Canada should, or even could, play a more active role. While our Government has decided to take a back seat to the leadership of the USA in the region, some Canadian NGOs have urged a more active role, providing humanitarian assistance, English language education for North Koreans, and maintaining people-to-people contacts.”

Weingartner stresses that those involved in the Virtual ThinkNet’s ‘Brain Trust’ straddle a variety of professions and political allegiances. Some members are in the public service, and therefore participate anonymously.

“This is what differentiates our think-NET from the many think-TANKs out there,” says Weingartner. “Think tanks usually operate from an ideologically fixed position. Because of the inclusiveness of our Brain Trust, our scenarios promise to possess an authenticity that is unique.”

Sponsored by the Toronto-based Canada-DPR Korea Association, the project is managed by Weingartner Consulting, publishers of the CanKor newsletter. Weingartner Consulting’s Virtual ThinkNet hosts scenarios-building processes that mimic methodologies generally used in weeklong face-to-face workshops. With the help of Canadian tech-marketing company the SomaGroup, the VTN uses the depth and breadth of innovative social networking technologies to achieve a fertile collaboration that is accessible to busy professionals.

Erich Weingartner Interviewed on CTV’s Canada AM


Erich Weingartner was interviewed for CTV’s Canada AM news segment this morning, on former President Clinton’s visit to the DPR (North) Korea. The illegal entry and subsequent arrest of jounalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee provided the DPRK and the US with an opportunity to tune the harmonics between the two nations.
“The DPRK has become increasingly predictable,” said Erich Weingartner in Ottawa last April, “but so has international reaction to every step they take. There is a certain rhythm to this dance around a problem that has been with us for 60 years, yet no one seems to hear the music. We will not be surprised if the DPRK stages another nuclear test should the Obama Administration refuse to pay them the attention they crave.”
In the question period following the presentation in Ottawa, Weingartner speculated that the DPRK would continue to escalate tensions until it got attention from the Obama administration that they sought. The first gift Kim Jong Il would give the American administration would be the release of the two journalists once he is convinced that Obama is ready to talk.
In the CTV interview, Weingartner confirmed that the case of the two american journalists of Al Gore’s Current TV is indeed the first indication that the two sides are ready to talk.

Erich Weingartner was interviewed for CTV’s Canada AM news segment this morning, on former President Clinton’s visit to the DPR (North) Korea. The illegal entry and subsequent arrest of jounalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee provided the DPRK and the US with an opportunity to tune the harmonics between the two nations.

“The DPRK has become increasingly predictable,” said Erich Weingartner in Ottawa last April, “but so has international reaction to every step they take. There is a certain rhythm to this dance around a problem that has been with us for 60 years, yet no one seems to hear the music. We will not be surprised if the DPRK stages another nuclear test should the Obama Administration refuse to pay them the attention they crave.”

In the question period following the presentation in Ottawa, Weingartner speculated that the DPRK would continue to escalate tensions until it got the attention from the Obama administration that they sought. The first gift Kim Jong Il would give the American administration would be the release of the two journalists once he is convinced that Obama is ready to talk.

In the CTV interview, Weingartner confirmed that the case of the two american journalists of Al Gore’s Current TV is indeed the first indication that the two sides are ready to talk.

Canada and the enduring problem of the Korean Peninsula


Canada and the enduring problem of the Korean Peninsula Erich Weingartner (27 April 2009)
On the 5th of this month, North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the eastern skies above and beyond a very agitated Japan. The following week, a hundred thousand cheering citizens gathered in Pyongyang to celebrate what they called the “successful launch of a communications satellite”-which is now broadcasting revolutionary songs extolling the virtues of their Dear Leader.
Few outside North Korea (or “DPRK”, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as it is officially called) believe that a satellite actually made it into space, or that this was even the real intention. Opinions differ as to what was the real purpose of the launch:
Was it a demonstration that North Korea is able to threaten the United States with weapons?
Was it test-marketing missiles North Korea wants to sell to customers like Iran, who sent observers to the launch?
Was it a “remember me” welcome to President Obama because his administration was too busy identifying priorities elsewhere?
Was it to show defiance vis-à-vis China’s insistence that the DPRK comply with nuclear agreements reached in the Six-Party talks?
Was it a signal to South Korea’s President that a hard-line attitude will get him nowhere?
Was it a ploy to increase its bargaining potential in further nuclear negotiations?
Was its purpose internal?
Was it meant to underline to the North Korean people that continued sacrifices were necessary to assure their security against outside aggression?
Was it meant to assure regime stability to allow for a secure dynastic succession after Chairman Kim Jong Il’s reported stroke and continued precarious health?
Or was it some combination of all of the above?
Whatever the motive, it is important to set the missile test in a broader political context. There is a continuing cold war on the peninsula, and most stakeholders have fixed perceptions about North Korea that are steeped in history, distrust, fear and irrationality.
Those of us who have followed North Korea’s activities since the end of the Cold War (with capital letters) in the past two decades simply threw up our hands at the prospect of yet another multi-stage rocket launch.
“Here we go again,” was a common refrain. The DPRK launched one for President Clinton, a second one for President Bush, so why not one for President Obama?
We were also less than impressed by the predictable action at the UN Security Council, which managed to issue only a nonbinding Presidential Statement, because China and Russia were convinced that caution is the better part of valour, and additional sanctions would run counter to the purpose of Korean denuclearization. Besides, UNSC Resolution 1718 after North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006 already imposed a list of sanctions that had little effect.
Nor will we be surprised if the DPRK stages another nuclear test should the Obama Administration refuse to pay them the attention they crave.
What has changed in the past ten years is that North Korea has become increasingly predictable. But so has international reaction to every step they take. There is a certain rhythm to this dance around a problem that has been with us for 60 years, yet no one seems to hear the music. Is it really true that the smartest minds of the world cannot solve this conundrum, or does no one want to solve it?
I would like to believe that Canada has a role to play in Korea, but my experience in the last nine years since we established diplomatic relations with the DPRK has left me somewhat disappointed. Perhaps I need to review the basics once again. Here is what I thought I knew on the subject. I will invite you to correct me:
Canadian policies Canada’s foreign policy is based on enhancing our national prosperity by expanding foreign markets, ensuring our national security, and promoting our values internationally. These values include the promotion of disarmament, peace, justice, development, humanitarianism, human security and human rights. Canada believes states implementing the United Nations human rights charter make better, more profitable trading partners, and are less likely to pose a threat to global security. Canada has no sticks, and only a limited number of relatively small carrots. We believe in engagement, not confrontation, in dialogue, not diatribe. When Canada established diplomatic relations with the DPRK, it was in order to assist our long-time ally the ROK to move toward peace on the Korean peninsula by engaging directly with the DPRK on bilateral and multilateral issues such as famine, human rights, missile development and regional stability.
Canada has a history with Korea that spans more than one hundred years: missionary activity from the 19th century; participation in the Korean War; forty years of diplomatic and economic ties with the ROK; fifteen years of academic Track II involvement and nine years of diplomatic relationships with the DPRK. On the DPRK, Canada tends to follow the lead of both the USA and the ROK. We have an affinity to multilateral approaches, with a strong commitment to the United Nations. We are firmly anti-proliferation, and take seriously our humanitarian responsibilities. We value our history of peace promotion, peace building, and peacekeeping. We value our economic relations with the ROK, China, and Japan. We have a significant and growing Korean-Canadian constituency.
Canadians believe in cooperation between government and civil society. The Canadian government began to take serious interest in North Korea because it was prodded and encouraged to do so by churches, the academic community, and non-governmental organizations. During the current nuclear impasse, Canada has accepted the US argument that a “common front” approach is needed to persuade the DPRK to scrap its nuclear weapons programme. Some academics and NGOs do not share the same approach, preferring critical engagement and a coordinated division of labour between government and civil society.
Premises Canada is a second-tier, and relatively distant player compared to the frontline states now engaged in the Six-Party process. Based on Canada’s history and experience in peace promotion and human security, however, a potentially significant role could be played. I would base our policies and programmes on a number of premises:
None of the five front-line states in Six-Party talks is willing to accept a nuclear-armed DPRK, considering the threat to strategic stability, the risk of nuclear material being sold to third parties, and the prospect of an accelerated arms race in the region.
By the same token, none of the states in the Six-Party talks see the sudden collapse of the DPRK as a desirable outcome, considering the multiple dangers inherent in such a collapse for all parties involved: military threat from dying regime; regional turmoil; instability and unrest (possibly civil war) during transition; floods of refugees; economic and social costs; resurgent nationalism; uncertain status and alignment of a unified Korea; decreased viability of US military bases as guarantor of security and influence in region; possible race for military ascendancy in region resulting in deterioration of the Asia-Pacific security environment and strategic balance; increased antagonism in the Sino-Japanese rivalry.
The countries most interested in returning the DPRK to a non-nuclear, non-threatening state are also interested in extending the duration of the current division of Korea-at least in the immediate future-thereby extending the life of the Kim Jong Il regime by default.
The dilemma for Kim Jong Il is that economic reforms are indispensable for regime survival, but economic reforms result in unpredictable changes, leading to regime insecurity. Economic change in the DPRK is likely to accelerate as the regime feels more self-secure. Therefore paradoxically, offering security guarantees and economic development may be the fastest and safest way to bring about regime change.
Isolating the DPRK regime from the outside world-for example by sanctions-has the unwelcome side effect of encouraging missile development and sales, narco-criminal activities, illicit international trade, and an expanding internal black market. A Mafia-style economic management system will teach wrong lessons about market-based norms and international legal responsibilities.
The human security concept as defined by Canada may not be immediately applicable to the DPRK. Major insecurities of ordinary Koreans result from a political and social system that excludes individual liberties, and from the harsh punishments imposed for anti-social behaviour or disloyalty to the party and supreme leader. Food shortages and economic hardships have led to large-scale famine, with an increasing number of migrant-refugee-defectors crossing the border into China and Russia. These issues are not currently on the table of six-party talks. A long-range vision of human security would dictate the need to find solutions that provide the people of the DPRK with maximum security and maximum development, with minimum disruption in their daily lives, and minimum personal and social harm.
In any country, change happens most profitably when internal dynamics favour change, when its citizens are the authors and executors of change. Interdependency-whether economic or security-is a powerful motivator for international cooperation and conflict management. As a long-term goal, Korea as a whole needs to prepare for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, if not reunification. The two Koreas must ultimately decide their own future together, although second-tier countries like Canada, who do not have major strategic or geopolitical interests in the country, could play an assisting role.
The Six-Party framework could eventually form the basis of an ongoing security mechanism for the northeast Asian region, once the DPRK nuclear issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved.
There is an important role for the non-frontline states like the European Union, not in the “high politics” of the nuclear issue, but in the “low politics” of economic and social development. Canada could use its influence as a middle power-as well as our experience in peace promotion and human security-to advance mid- to long-term solutions. There could be a role for the club of second-tier states that have recently normalized relations with Pyongyang, particularly Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the Europeans, with Canada playing a coordinating role.
Goals Solving the problem of Korea’s division is a very long-term project, requiring good will and intellectual resources of numerous countries. Above all, it will require creative strategies of the kind that former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson excelled in. His vision of the contribution of middle powers to peace making and peace keeping in the bi-polar world of the Cold War may still have some relevance in the last place on earth where the Cold War has survived.
North Korean officials are well aware of and appreciate Canada’s role in opening and maintaining relationships with both Cuba and China. They understand and appreciate our special relationship with both the USA and the Republic of Korea, and for that reason regard us as a potential “honest broker.” The Republic of Korea-at least its previous two governments-has also strongly and repeatedly encouraged Canada in the direction of engagement with the DPRK.
The goals of a Canadian policy might include the following:
Avoidance of war at all cost;
Discouraging the development of weapons of mass destruction and reduction of conventional arms on the Korean peninsula;
Support for multilateral efforts to turn the Korean Armistice Agreement into a peace mechanism;
Promotion and facilitation of dialogue and cooperative relationships among Koreans and between Canadians and Koreans, to build trust and effective long-term strategies;
Continued efforts to mitigate starvation, to raise the standard of living, and to promote the human security of the North Korean people;
Participation in economic development assistance and the DPRK’s integration into global society, in order to reduce tensions and increase interdependency;
Engagement with the people of North Korea at all possible levels, through intensive pursuit of people-to-people contact and exchanges, the sharing of information, and the provision of educational opportunities for DPR Koreans, both at home and here in Canada.
Programmatic engagement Until there is movement on the nuclear front, the Canadian government will have limited engagement opportunities. This should not, however, prevent Canadian civil society involvement with the DPRK, hopefully supported and co-financed by agencies of our government.
Canadian programmes should demonstrate the supportive role that can be played by a second-tier nation with a keen interest in peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and a commitment to improving the lives of DPR Koreans.
The establishment of permanent reciprocal diplomatic representations in Pyongyang and Ottawa would be beneficial for all Canadian programmes, whether managed by government or civil society.
Failing the establishment of an embassy, Canada should permanently locate at least one liaison person in Pyongyang. If this cannot be a DFAIT appointment, a CIDA or NGO office with diplomatic backing might be substituted. The current frequency of trips by Canadian diplomats to Pyongyang is unable to sustain the continuity required for serious engagement with the DPRK. Permanent representation would build confidence by demonstrating Canada’s commitment to long-term peace and development on the peninsula.
Even though Canada’s ambassador to the ROK is now concurrently appointed as ambassador to the DPRK, there still isn’t any regular land-based access between Seoul and Pyongyang. The permanent physical presence of a chargé d’affaires in Pyongyang would be advisable, though unlikely until there are sufficient Canadian programmes and interests in place.
Despite negative outcomes during the past several years, Track II dialogues should be kick-started again, especially if there is positive movement in nuclear negotiations. It is important to continue to challenge and broaden DPR Korean experience, perspectives and imagination-a transfer of ideas-with or without an expedient reciprocal response.
The need for reliable information is critical when dealing with the DPRK. A few initiatives, such as the CanKor Report, have met with limited success, but could be strengthened through virtual international networking to provide research, analysis and advice to government, business and civil society, generating ideas for effective engagement in the Korean peninsula.
Canada could host an experts meeting from other second-tier countries (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, and members of the European Union) who also have established diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Canada would benefit from an evaluation of experiments, pilot projects and engagement experiences of other countries.
In the foreseeable future-when the Six-Party talks gain momentum toward a positive outcome-the need for a definitive end to the Korean War will gain focus. The transformation of the Armistice Agreement into a peace mechanism will require the participation of former combatants under United Nations Command. With our tradition of peace-promotion, Canada is well placed to initiate a dialogue with other countries that were involved in the Korean War. The aim would be to develop peace-building strategies that help the United Nations once again to become a genuinely neutral interlocutor on the Korean peninsula.
Canada should explore ways to assist in the realization of human rights in the DPRK. After reviewing the second periodic human rights report submitted by the DPRK some years ago, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended the establishment of a national North Korean human rights institution. Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development should be encouraged to offer technical expertise in this endeavour, as part of an ongoing dialogue with the DPRK on human rights.
Canada could open a dialogue with China to suggest ways of dealing with North Korean “migrants,” without increasing stresses already apparent in the China-DPRK relationship. Elements of a plan might include: permission for reputable NGOs to give social assistance to North Koreans in China; allowing an orderly means for Koreans to apply for emigration to embassies and consulates in China; offering Canadian assistance to transport eligible persons to third countries. The assumption, of course, is that Canada and other like-minded states are willing to accept North Korean migrants.
Humanitarian assistance continues to be vitally important, but should be delivered with the longer-term perspective of improving food security, and encouraging a transition from emergency to development assistance. Small changes in agricultural management on a limited number of farms, for example, could produce significant results, reaching far beyond the original location. Examples of projects: sustainable cropping systems and crop rotations; green manure crops; supplemental irrigation; reforestation for fuel wood, windbreaks, soil and water conservation; appropriate technology such as alternative energy through wind power and solar ovens; bicycles for rural doctors and families selling produce at farmer’s markets.
Canada could create a scholarship fund to allow DPRK students to study in Canada. The DPRK has requested English language training, and several NGOs have become involved in such training. Other requested subjects: forestry, aquaculture, goat breeding, mineralogy, mining, economics, management, engineering, and medicine.
Teaching DPR Koreans about Canada and Canadian life benefits not only the promotion of our values, but offers examples for emulation from a different culture and social system. This can be accomplished through a variety of cultural, academic, artistic, musical, sporting, and circus exchanges. In 1999, the Canadian NGO Global Aid Network took a basketball team to Pyongyang. A delegation of the Canada-DPR Korea Association celebrated Canada Day in Pyongyang in 2002, for which Canada’s Embassy in Beijing sent an exhibit of Canadian books. Two Canadian figure skaters were featured in Pyongyang’s annual Spring Arts Festival in 2003. Last December an expatriate Canadian hockey team played (and lost) with some Pyongyang youth teams. The possibilities of this type of activity are plentiful.
Canada should encourage and facilitate tourism and business links with the DPRK. A Korean-Canadian entrepreneur in Toronto offers tours to the DPRK, for example, and has assisted DPRK merchants to exhibit and sell cultural wares in Canada. According to a British businessman, Canadian firms are in a good position to invest in sectors such as mining, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and energy. For the timid, cooperative arrangements could be made with South Korean firms with experience in the DPRK, or those who have operations in the Kaesong Industrial Park.
People-to-people contacts and exchanges organized by Canadian NGOs are a valuable contribution to the building of trust and confidence, and tend to create a favourable atmosphere for inter-governmental dialogue. Opening as many doors and windows as possible into and out of the DPRK, may alter perceptions of threat, giving space to the possibility of hope.

by Erich Weingartner, Ottawa, 27 April 2009

On the 5th of this month, North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the eastern skies above and beyond a very agitated Japan. The following week, a hundred thousand cheering citizens gathered in Pyongyang to celebrate what they called the “successful launch of a communications satellite”-which is now broadcasting revolutionary songs extolling the virtues of their Dear Leader.

Few outside North Korea (or “DPRK”, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as it is officially called) believe that a satellite actually made it into space, or that this was even the real intention. Opinions differ as to what was the real purpose of the launch:

  • Was it a demonstration that North Korea is able to threaten the United States with weapons?
  • Was it test-marketing missiles North Korea wants to sell to customers like Iran, who sent observers to the launch?
  • Was it a “remember me” welcome to President Obama because his administration was too busy identifying priorities elsewhere?
  • Was it to show defiance vis-à-vis China’s insistence that the DPRK comply with nuclear agreements reached in the Six-Party talks?
  • Was it a signal to South Korea’s President that a hard-line attitude will get him nowhere?
  • Was it a ploy to increase its bargaining potential in further nuclear negotiations?
  • Was its purpose internal?
  • Was it meant to underline to the North Korean people that continued sacrifices were necessary to assure their security against outside aggression?
  • Was it meant to assure regime stability to allow for a secure dynastic succession after Chairman Kim Jong Il’s reported stroke and continued precarious health?
  • Or was it some combination of all of the above?

Whatever the motive, it is important to set the missile test in a broader political context. There is a continuing cold war on the peninsula, and most stakeholders have fixed perceptions about North Korea that are steeped in history, distrust, fear and irrationality.

Those of us who have followed North Korea’s activities since the end of the Cold War (with capital letters) in the past two decades simply threw up our hands at the prospect of yet another multi-stage rocket launch.

“Here we go again,” was a common refrain. The DPRK launched one for President Clinton, a second one for President Bush, so why not one for President Obama?

We were also less than impressed by the predictable action at the UN Security Council, which managed to issue only a nonbinding Presidential Statement, because China and Russia were convinced that caution is the better part of valour, and additional sanctions would run counter to the purpose of Korean denuclearization. Besides, UNSC Resolution 1718 after North Korea’s nuclear test in October 2006 already imposed a list of sanctions that had little effect.

Nor will we be surprised if the DPRK stages another nuclear test should the Obama Administration refuse to pay them the attention they crave.

What has changed in the past ten years is that North Korea has become increasingly predictable. But so has international reaction to every step they take. There is a certain rhythm to this dance around a problem that has been with us for 60 years, yet no one seems to hear the music. Is it really true that the smartest minds of the world cannot solve this conundrum, or does no one want to solve it?

I would like to believe that Canada has a role to play in Korea, but my experience in the last nine years since we established diplomatic relations with the DPRK has left me somewhat disappointed. Perhaps I need to review the basics once again. Here is what I thought I knew on the subject. I will invite you to correct me:

Canadian policies Canada’s foreign policy is based on enhancing our national prosperity by expanding foreign markets, ensuring our national security, and promoting our values internationally. These values include the promotion of disarmament, peace, justice, development, humanitarianism, human security and human rights. Canada believes states implementing the United Nations human rights charter make better, more profitable trading partners, and are less likely to pose a threat to global security. Canada has no sticks, and only a limited number of relatively small carrots. We believe in engagement, not confrontation, in dialogue, not diatribe. When Canada established diplomatic relations with the DPRK, it was in order to assist our long-time ally the ROK to move toward peace on the Korean peninsula by engaging directly with the DPRK on bilateral and multilateral issues such as famine, human rights, missile development and regional stability.

Canada has a history with Korea that spans more than one hundred years: missionary activity from the 19th century; participation in the Korean War; forty years of diplomatic and economic ties with the ROK; fifteen years of academic Track II involvement and nine years of diplomatic relationships with the DPRK. On the DPRK, Canada tends to follow the lead of both the USA and the ROK. We have an affinity to multilateral approaches, with a strong commitment to the United Nations. We are firmly anti-proliferation, and take seriously our humanitarian responsibilities. We value our history of peace promotion, peace building, and peacekeeping. We value our economic relations with the ROK, China, and Japan. We have a significant and growing Korean-Canadian constituency.

Canadians believe in cooperation between government and civil society. The Canadian government began to take serious interest in North Korea because it was prodded and encouraged to do so by churches, the academic community, and non-governmental organizations. During the current nuclear impasse, Canada has accepted the US argument that a “common front” approach is needed to persuade the DPRK to scrap its nuclear weapons programme. Some academics and NGOs do not share the same approach, preferring critical engagement and a coordinated division of labour between government and civil society.

Premises Canada is a second-tier, and relatively distant player compared to the frontline states now engaged in the Six-Party process. Based on Canada’s history and experience in peace promotion and human security, however, a potentially significant role could be played. I would base our policies and programmes on a number of premises:

None of the five front-line states in Six-Party talks is willing to accept a nuclear-armed DPRK, considering the threat to strategic stability, the risk of nuclear material being sold to third parties, and the prospect of an accelerated arms race in the region.

By the same token, none of the states in the Six-Party talks see the sudden collapse of the DPRK as a desirable outcome, considering the multiple dangers inherent in such a collapse for all parties involved: military threat from dying regime; regional turmoil; instability and unrest (possibly civil war) during transition; floods of refugees; economic and social costs; resurgent nationalism; uncertain status and alignment of a unified Korea; decreased viability of US military bases as guarantor of security and influence in region; possible race for military ascendancy in region resulting in deterioration of the Asia-Pacific security environment and strategic balance; increased antagonism in the Sino-Japanese rivalry.

The countries most interested in returning the DPRK to a non-nuclear, non-threatening state are also interested in extending the duration of the current division of Korea-at least in the immediate future-thereby extending the life of the Kim Jong Il regime by default.

The dilemma for Kim Jong Il is that economic reforms are indispensable for regime survival, but economic reforms result in unpredictable changes, leading to regime insecurity. Economic change in the DPRK is likely to accelerate as the regime feels more self-secure. Therefore paradoxically, offering security guarantees and economic development may be the fastest and safest way to bring about regime change.

Isolating the DPRK regime from the outside world-for example by sanctions-has the unwelcome side effect of encouraging missile development and sales, narco-criminal activities, illicit international trade, and an expanding internal black market. A Mafia-style economic management system will teach wrong lessons about market-based norms and international legal responsibilities.

The human security concept as defined by Canada may not be immediately applicable to the DPRK. Major insecurities of ordinary Koreans result from a political and social system that excludes individual liberties, and from the harsh punishments imposed for anti-social behaviour or disloyalty to the party and supreme leader. Food shortages and economic hardships have led to large-scale famine, with an increasing number of migrant-refugee-defectors crossing the border into China and Russia. These issues are not currently on the table of six-party talks. A long-range vision of human security would dictate the need to find solutions that provide the people of the DPRK with maximum security and maximum development, with minimum disruption in their daily lives, and minimum personal and social harm.

In any country, change happens most profitably when internal dynamics favour change, when its citizens are the authors and executors of change. Interdependency-whether economic or security-is a powerful motivator for international cooperation and conflict management. As a long-term goal, Korea as a whole needs to prepare for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, if not reunification. The two Koreas must ultimately decide their own future together, although second-tier countries like Canada, who do not have major strategic or geopolitical interests in the country, could play an assisting role.

The Six-Party framework could eventually form the basis of an ongoing security mechanism for the northeast Asian region, once the DPRK nuclear issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved.

There is an important role for the non-frontline states like the European Union, not in the “high politics” of the nuclear issue, but in the “low politics” of economic and social development. Canada could use its influence as a middle power-as well as our experience in peace promotion and human security-to advance mid- to long-term solutions. There could be a role for the club of second-tier states that have recently normalized relations with Pyongyang, particularly Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and the Europeans, with Canada playing a coordinating role.

Goals Solving the problem of Korea’s division is a very long-term project, requiring good will and intellectual resources of numerous countries. Above all, it will require creative strategies of the kind that former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson excelled in. His vision of the contribution of middle powers to peace making and peace keeping in the bi-polar world of the Cold War may still have some relevance in the last place on earth where the Cold War has survived.

North Korean officials are well aware of and appreciate Canada’s role in opening and maintaining relationships with both Cuba and China. They understand and appreciate our special relationship with both the USA and the Republic of Korea, and for that reason regard us as a potential “honest broker.” The Republic of Korea-at least its previous two governments-has also strongly and repeatedly encouraged Canada in the direction of engagement with the DPRK.

The goals of a Canadian policy might include the following:

  • Avoidance of war at all cost;
  • Discouraging the development of weapons of mass destruction and reduction of conventional arms on the Korean peninsula;
  • Support for multilateral efforts to turn the Korean Armistice Agreement into a peace mechanism;
  • Promotion and facilitation of dialogue and cooperative relationships among Koreans and between Canadians and Koreans, to build trust and effective long-term strategies;
  • Continued efforts to mitigate starvation, to raise the standard of living, and to promote the human security of the North Korean people;
  • Participation in economic development assistance and the DPRK’s integration into global society, in order to reduce tensions and increase interdependency;
  • Engagement with the people of North Korea at all possible levels, through intensive pursuit of people-to-people contact and exchanges, the sharing of information, and the provision of educational opportunities for DPR Koreans, both at home and here in Canada.
  • Programmatic engagement Until there is movement on the nuclear front, the Canadian government will have limited engagement opportunities. This should not, however, prevent Canadian civil society involvement with the DPRK, hopefully supported and co-financed by agencies of our government.
  • Canadian programmes should demonstrate the supportive role that can be played by a second-tier nation with a keen interest in peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and a commitment to improving the lives of DPR Koreans.
  • The establishment of permanent reciprocal diplomatic representations in Pyongyang and Ottawa would be beneficial for all Canadian programmes, whether managed by government or civil society.
  • Failing the establishment of an embassy, Canada should permanently locate at least one liaison person in Pyongyang. If this cannot be a DFAIT appointment, a CIDA or NGO office with diplomatic backing might be substituted. The current frequency of trips by Canadian diplomats to Pyongyang is unable to sustain the continuity required for serious engagement with the DPRK. Permanent representation would build confidence by demonstrating Canada’s commitment to long-term peace and development on the peninsula.
  • Even though Canada’s ambassador to the ROK is now concurrently appointed as ambassador to the DPRK, there still isn’t any regular land-based access between Seoul and Pyongyang. The permanent physical presence of a chargé d’affaires in Pyongyang would be advisable, though unlikely until there are sufficient Canadian programmes and interests in place.
  • Despite negative outcomes during the past several years, Track II dialogues should be kick-started again, especially if there is positive movement in nuclear negotiations. It is important to continue to challenge and broaden DPR Korean experience, perspectives and imagination-a transfer of ideas-with or without an expedient reciprocal response.
  • The need for reliable information is critical when dealing with the DPRK. A few initiatives, such as the CanKor Report, have met with limited success, but could be strengthened through virtual international networking to provide research, analysis and advice to government, business and civil society, generating ideas for effective engagement in the Korean peninsula.
  • Canada could host an experts meeting from other second-tier countries (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, and members of the European Union) who also have established diplomatic relations with the DPRK. Canada would benefit from an evaluation of experiments, pilot projects and engagement experiences of other countries.
  • In the foreseeable future-when the Six-Party talks gain momentum toward a positive outcome-the need for a definitive end to the Korean War will gain focus. The transformation of the Armistice Agreement into a peace mechanism will require the participation of former combatants under United Nations Command. With our tradition of peace-promotion, Canada is well placed to initiate a dialogue with other countries that were involved in the Korean War. The aim would be to develop peace-building strategies that help the United Nations once again to become a genuinely neutral interlocutor on the Korean peninsula.
  • Canada should explore ways to assist in the realization of human rights in the DPRK. After reviewing the second periodic human rights report submitted by the DPRK some years ago, the UN Human Rights Committee recommended the establishment of a national North Korean human rights institution. Canada’s International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development should be encouraged to offer technical expertise in this endeavour, as part of an ongoing dialogue with the DPRK on human rights.
  • Canada could open a dialogue with China to suggest ways of dealing with North Korean “migrants,” without increasing stresses already apparent in the China-DPRK relationship. Elements of a plan might include: permission for reputable NGOs to give social assistance to North Koreans in China; allowing an orderly means for Koreans to apply for emigration to embassies and consulates in China; offering Canadian assistance to transport eligible persons to third countries. The assumption, of course, is that Canada and other like-minded states are willing to accept North Korean migrants.
  • Humanitarian assistance continues to be vitally important, but should be delivered with the longer-term perspective of improving food security, and encouraging a transition from emergency to development assistance. Small changes in agricultural management on a limited number of farms, for example, could produce significant results, reaching far beyond the original location. Examples of projects: sustainable cropping systems and crop rotations; green manure crops; supplemental irrigation; reforestation for fuel wood, windbreaks, soil and water conservation; appropriate technology such as alternative energy through wind power and solar ovens; bicycles for rural doctors and families selling produce at farmer’s markets.
  • Canada could create a scholarship fund to allow DPRK students to study in Canada. The DPRK has requested English language training, and several NGOs have become involved in such training. Other requested subjects: forestry, aquaculture, goat breeding, mineralogy, mining, economics, management, engineering, and medicine.
  • Teaching DPR Koreans about Canada and Canadian life benefits not only the promotion of our values, but offers examples for emulation from a different culture and social system. This can be accomplished through a variety of cultural, academic, artistic, musical, sporting, and circus exchanges. In 1999, the Canadian NGO Global Aid Network took a basketball team to Pyongyang. A delegation of the Canada-DPR Korea Association celebrated Canada Day in Pyongyang in 2002, for which Canada’s Embassy in Beijing sent an exhibit of Canadian books. Two Canadian figure skaters were featured in Pyongyang’s annual Spring Arts Festival in 2003. Last December an expatriate Canadian hockey team played (and lost) with some Pyongyang youth teams. The possibilities of this type of activity are plentiful.
  • Canada should encourage and facilitate tourism and business links with the DPRK. A Korean-Canadian entrepreneur in Toronto offers tours to the DPRK, for example, and has assisted DPRK merchants to exhibit and sell cultural wares in Canada. According to a British businessman, Canadian firms are in a good position to invest in sectors such as mining, fisheries, forestry, agriculture and energy. For the timid, cooperative arrangements could be made with South Korean firms with experience in the DPRK, or those who have operations in the Kaesong Industrial Park.
  • People-to-people contacts and exchanges organized by Canadian NGOs are a valuable contribution to the building of trust and confidence, and tend to create a favourable atmosphere for inter-governmental dialogue. Opening as many doors and windows as possible into and out of the DPRK, may alter perceptions of threat, giving space to the possibility of hope.
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