Source: Strategic Culture

Judging by South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s statement on 13 June, Seoul has decided to cut off dialogue with North Korea, demanding that Pyongyang first end its nuclear programme. As is well known, South Korea severed all communication channels with the North and closed the last collaborative economic development – a joint industrial zone in Kaesong – after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test and satellite launch in January-February 2016.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the conciliatory overtures made towards Seoul at the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) held in May, which included the holding of high-level talks between military authorities and then the convening of an inter-Korean meeting in August to discuss reunification.

The North Korean government also extended an invitation to dialogue to Washington. In particular, it included an idea highly-valued by experts of a so-called package deal in the manner of a ‘moratorium for a moratorium’: Pyongyang would stop conducting nuclear tests for a certain period of time and the US would stop its annual large-scale joint military exercises with South Korea close to the demilitarised zone or at least move them to an area further away from North Korea.

Unfortunately, however, these proposals by North Korea were rejected just like all of the country’s previous ones. The argument that every peaceful step by Pyongyang is just propaganda intended to camouflage an imminent ‘act of provocation’ that needs to be prepared for in advance without losing time studying the diplomatic signals emanating from the banks of the Taedong River is an already familiar explanation for this kind of approach.