By Lee Sam-sung, feature editor
On July 3, President Moon Jae-in replaced the diplomatic and security chiefs of Korea. They are the heads of the National Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Unification and the National Security Office of the Presidential Man of Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House).
Moon named former Special Envoy Park Jie-won as new head of the National Intelligence Service replacing Suh Hoon, who has been tapped as director of the National Security Office.
Moon also appointed four-term ruling Democratic Party National Assemblyman Lee In-young as new Minister of National Unification.
The third important Presidential appointment was Im Jong-seok who was tapped as new Special Assistant to the Presidential for Foreign Affairs and Security.
Moon’s appointment of the three key political figures in Korea came as a surprise to many people in Korea as they generally viewed Moon’s move as his fixed intention to improve relations with North Korea that have been substantially hurt following a series of belligerent actions taken by North Korean, including the substantial demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office building in Kaesong north of the Demilitarized Zone.
In the opinion of many people in the South, the unexpected appointments were seen as a bold move to find a way through the deadlocked relations with the North Korean regime, Chairman Kim Jong-Un in particular.
While Park and Lee will have to go through a parliamentary hearing, they can begin work upon Moon’s appointment, without parliament’s approval.
It appears that this reshuffling is aimed at injecting new impetus to improving the dead-locked inter-Korean relations after the North Korea-United States summit in Hanoi which ended without any tangible result last year.
As was briefly mentioned above, President Moon is obviously trying to find a break-through to the dead-locked relations between the north and south, which was highlighted when the North Korean regime blew up the Gaeseong Inter-Korean Liaison Office.
One of the key issues in the second phase of the term of office of President Moon seems to be improving inter-Korean relations. Moon has held several inter-Korean summits over the past three years and tried to mediate the North-U.S. relations. However, no progress has been made in the denuclearization of North Korea. On the contrary, the inter-Korean relations have deteriorated.
North Korea is blaming Moon for the ‘unproductive’ consequences. As we have seen so far, finding a solution to the nuclear weapons of North Korea is very, very difficult.
It appears that the North Korean regime is thinking, “Well, if we give our nuclear weapons, there will be no guarantee of our security.”
The U.S. and N. Korea have been negotiating denuclearization of North Korea, but little progress has been made so far.
North Korea appears to be experiencing unprecedented economic difficulties under the U.N. sanctions. The COVID-19 crisis further exacerbated the North Korean economy. It is said that it is difficult even to secure food or daily necessities in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, where it is believed that the people are much better off in living compared with the local people.
Now, the new diplomatic and security line in Seoul should come up with a new strategy to simultaneously address North Korea's fundamental concerns and the security of the ROK in the south.
In the opinion of the many people in the South, a realistic solution is needed rather than an emotional approach to the North Korean problems. In doing this, strong ROK-U.S. alliance is a must.
The most important thing is the security of the ROK. North Korea has nuclear weapons available and can threaten us at any time. Therefore, the new diplomatic and security chiefs in the ROK should design a security strategy that will solve the North Korean nuclear issue and improve inter-Korean relations while maintaining the security of the ROK.
Recently, the international situation is rapidly changing due to the COVID-19, and the conflict between the United States and China is serious enough to be called a new phase of the notorious Cold War Era of the past.
Many people are expecting greatly from the newly appointed troika to steer the Korean peninsula into a durable course of peace.