Sputnik: How serious is Kim Jong-un when he says he is willing to engage in denuclearization talks with the United States? What are the factors that can really pave the way for this start of negotiations between North Korea and the US?
Kim Hyun-wook: Well, I think that denuclearization is possible under the conditions of North Korea being guaranteed regime stability, regime security and also there should be no anti- North Korea policies of the United States. So all these kinds of conditions… I'm not sure if US would accept and how far it would accept. Maybe the two countries can begin negotiations and talks. What kind of conditions each party wants for denuclearization and what would be the process of denuclearization and if the two countries' conditions are met, they might move on to the denuclearization talks. The agreement might be possible, but there also could be a breakdown of the talks. So, we'll see how it goes. We are very cautious about the progress of the denuclearization talks right now.
Sputnik: A slightly different side of the angle to what has been going on is the fact that as soon as Pyongyang demonstrated its willingness to talks, South Korean media published reports on alleged further nuclear research in North Korea, while the United States suddenly imposed new sanctions on the North in connection to the death of half-brother of the North Korean leader. How could you explain the timing of these actions? Why are the sides involved still instigating new tensions, which could possibly undermine the peace process?
Kim Hyun-wook: I think that we can definitely commit to the peace process. The one thing that we can take note of in the agreement is that the agreement stipulates that the two leaders would restore the hotlines, which is necessary to lower the tensions on the Korean peninsula. And also, I think all these things would possibly move on to changes in the US policy towards North Korea. All in all, I think it would be contributing to making peace on the Korean peninsula.
Sputnik: What is your hope for the future moving forward between the two Koreas? It's very significant the fact that after such a protracted period of time, in terms of tensions in the region and also the situation with the tension with the United States, that we have seen real grows in terms of dialogue moving forward. What's your hope now that this can now move forward to a harmonious and peaceful future for the two Koreas?
Kim Hyun-wook: I think that the important thing for the South Korean government is whether the US-North Korea denuclearization talks would be evolving as we hope. The North-South summit meeting is scheduled at the end of April and some of the concerns we have are what if after the summit meeting between North and South Korea the denuclearization talks between North Korea and the US would not be so successful? That's something the South Korean government has to be cautious about in the future.
If that happens, I think the US would be harsh again on North Korea and there will be some gaps between the South Korean government's policy towards North Korea and also US policy towards the North. It's very important that we embrace and bring the United States into a mood and atmosphere of dialogue and in order for that, I think, the denuclearization talks between North and the US are very important.
The US is unwilling to have other types of talks, maybe six-party talks or other multilateral talks. The US is not willing to accept that. Only the top government wants a direct talk with North Korea.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.