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  • Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong Un’

    Persuading Pyongyang: A Non-Confidential Memo for the Trump-Kim Talks

    April 19th, 2018  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Persuading Pyongyang: A Non-Confidential Memo for the Trump-Kim Talks

    By Jasper Kim

    Jasper Kim, JD/MBA, is the author of Persuasion: The Hidden Forces That Influence Negotiations (Routledge 2018). He is a lawyer, former investment banker, and Director of the Center for Conflict Management at Ewha University in Seoul, Korea. He was a former visiting scholar at Harvard University and Stanford University. Follow him on Twitter: @JasperKim101.
    APG note: this blog is a partial version of the full CNN article found here.
    The two most dramatic political figures in modern history—US president Donald Trump and the DPRK’s Kim Jong Un—have agreed in principle to meet in face-to-face negotiations. Will the Trump-Kim talks lead to an epic battle with only one man standing to claim victory? Or could the first talks between a sitting US president and North Korea’s leader culminate towards cooperation?
    To Trump, who famously quipped that “Everything is negotiable,” he likely sees the talks as transactional within the broader strokes of the “art of the deal.” Trump’s background hails from the world of high stakes real estate deals in New York. A leader knowingly or unknowingly takes such experience and outlook to higher office. This may be why Trump believes he must always exude uber-confidence and strength. The world, as viewed from his purview, exists in a Hobbesian state, a law of the jungle that can fluctuate wildly and precariously. Thus, his modus operandi is: a good offense is the best defense. No middle ground exists. You are either in the fight club or not.
    All the while, Kim Jong Un is watching. So what could North Korea’s Supreme Leader be thinking regarding the prospect of negotiating with Trump who previously proclaimed, “I’m really a great negotiator, I know how to negotiate, I like making deals”? It could be that Kim now views Trump with an increasing level of recognition and respect, formed by watching the commander-in-chief in action since taking office. Based on such observations from Kim’s line of sight, when it comes to the use of possible force, Trump seems like he could truly mean what he says. And this could be the ultimate wake-up call for Kim. If a Stalinist-inspired leader understands one thing, it is the use of force.
    A fear factor is also at play within such recognition and respect. In fact, the fear factor is arguably what is driving Kim and Trump together towards the same path of direct talks. They both, albeit reluctantly, now fear and respect each other to the point where neither one sees a more viable option than entering into negotiations. In an ironic twist, both also share similar negotiation tactics. Trump and Kim have each made audacious claims towards a course of action, from constructing walls to launching missile tests, that embolden key domestic audiences. They may not like or trust one other, but Trump and Kim can certainly understand each other.
    In a high-stakes negotiation game of one-on-one, tit-for-tat, one-upsmanship, both Trump and Kim increased their rhetoric to the seemingly very outer limits. This was their way of stress-testing the other’s mettle. But neither has blinked in this ultimate game of chicken set at the world stage for all to see. However, perhaps intentionally or accidentally, such actions and fear factor have led to an unlikely state of mutual recognition and respect. Both view the other as having the real potential to take action if perceived as being ignored, slighted, or disrespected. At the same time, Kim and Trump realize that a possible next step in escalation across a fuzzy, undefined, and blurry redline would not yield any benefit for either side. Crossing such redline would lead to a more than likely mutually-assured destruction (MAD) outcome. Of course, based on iterated war game simulations, the US would win such a conflict. But the more calibrated question is: “win” at what cost, economically, reputationally, and in terms of how many lives lost?
    From Kim Jong Un’s perspective, his world is a Stalinist world largely frozen in time since the 1950-53 Korean War. Like Trump, Kim also sees the world in Hobbesian terms. To protect himself and his homeland, Kim wants nuclear weapons as a protective shield, similar to how a person may want a gun to safeguard his or her home. Kim also wants economic assistance to protect himself and those loyal to him. But the savvy negotiator’s question is not “what” a person wants, but “why” a person wants it. Such framing shift prompts a negotiation paradigm shift from a competitive (distributive, win-lose) mindset to a cooperative (integrative, win-win) mindset.
    Given this, the fundamental questions should also shift from positional-based questions—such as the number of nuclear weapons North Korea may want, or the number of US troops remaining in South Korea—to instead ask “why” interest-based questions often hiding and lurking underneath such positions. Why, for instance, would a secluded state want nuclear weapons, akin to why would a person want a weapon for protection at home? If it is fear of aggression, what is the best solution to remedy such fear? These are often the invisible influencers in a negotiation Yet despite Trump and Kim’s seeming positional differences, both share some common interests, from selflessly altruistic to purely self-focused. These range from securing peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region to cementing their respective legacies.


    “Decoding Kim Jong-un: What North Korea’s Leader Wants” (Forbes op-ed, Jasper Kim)

    February 14th, 2017  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Below is a truncated version of the original Forbes op-ed piece.
    For the full Forbes op-ed, click HERE
    This weekend, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fired not just his country’s first missile test since U.S. President Donald Trump took office this year, he also fired the opening shot in a high-stakes negotiation match between two seemingly unpredictable alpha male world leaders.
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
    So why did North Korea conduct a launch in the very early days of Trump’s presidency?
    Kim wants to test his counterpart’s mettle: What will he do? What will he not do? Could Trump ever be trusted? These are the questions in Kim’s head.
    Words or action?
    Sanctions as sticks are not working as hoped to compel good behavior . Could diplomacy vis-à-vis China work? At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that Beijing would be willing to cooperate with Washington given Trump’s apparent intransigence about China, along with growing evidence that the PRC may be having less sway over the DPRK.
    Could then a pre-emptive military strike be a feasible option? In short, given that South Korea’s capital of Seoul has approximately ten million residents sitting in the backyard of the DMZ, which acts as a thin buffer between the two Koreas, the possible military and economic ramifications are too vast to justify a risky military encounter.
    This is why Kim finds himself relatively unrestrained from ordering missile test after missile test despite international outcry and sanctions. In fact, such outcries and sanctions are the very justification Kim needs to solidify his power base to his negotiation audience — his inside circle of advisers and elderly military leaders — that the outside world is truly “hostile” to their homeland.
    Direct appeal
    But perhaps there may be a better alternative to military strikes and more sanctions — why not speak directly to Kim himself to find out what he wants?
    A negotiation is defined as “getting what you want.” And most successful negotiations occur when both sides get at least a little of what they want. But too often, even the most experienced parties make sweeping one-size-fits-all assumptions about what the other’s demands are. As studies show, we see things as we are, rather than as they are. In other words, people superimpose their wants, fears, and values onto those with whom they are dealing.
    Past and perhaps even current U.S. officials have assumed that Kim is all about ruthless self-preservation. Others claim he wants a peace treaty, strong economy — even reunification. Statements from the North’s state-run KCNA news agency can also be viewed as negotiable first offers packaged in bombastic bluster.
    Which of these does North Korea’s leader want? We simply need more information to know. After all, information is power in negotiations.
    But rather than making broad-sweeping assumptions, a simpler and more effective approach exists: Just ask.
    For the amount of resources, lives, and security risks involved, the amount of direct communication between Kim and the most senior U.S. leaders commensurate to North Korean leader’s level of seniority have been negligent to nil. From the perspective of the Confucian and Stalinist-driven mindset of this young leader, it’s critical that a presidential level leader be present in the room. After all, the messenger is the message.

    If interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group’s consultancy and training expertise can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.

    Purge in Pyongyang: 5 Risks of North Korea’s Ouster of Its #2 Leader (Jang Song Thaek)

    December 13th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    WSJ interview segment with Korea specialist, Jasper Kim (December 13, 2013):
    YONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea said Friday that it executed Kim Jong Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek (장성택) as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power, a stunning end for the leader’s former mentor, long considered the country’s No. 2. Several days ago, North Korea accused Jang of corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs, and said he’d been “eliminated” from all his posts. Jang also was accused of trying “to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.”
    CNN interview segment with Korea specialist, Jasper Kim (December 13, 2013):

    Our view, at Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, is that Jang’s purge and subsequent execution is highly concerning for the following 5 reasons:
    1. LACK OF POLITICAL PROTECTION: One view among some analysts is that Jang’s purge reflects a strategic power consolidation effort by Kim Jong Un. However, we believe that with Jang no longer in the political picture, Kim Jong Un has very little political protection and sounding board/advisor, while also severing the cord between KJU and his father (which is more harmful than helpful since it is because of KJU’s blood line that enabled him to gain power). After all, his uncle Jang Song Thaek never, as far as we know, represented a credible threat to the leadership of his nephew, Kim Jong Un.
    2. IS IT KIM JONG UN OR THE MILITARY THAT TRULY OUSTED JANG?: Many analysts do not question whether the execution of Jang Song Thaek reflected the true intent and desires of Kim Jong Un or not. We believe the evidence as of yet is not fully persuasive that this was the case. Another scenario could exist, which may be as or less likely but still entirely possible, in which Kim Jong Un approved the execution of his uncle (Jang) due to the fact that Kim had no viable alternative due to tangible pressure from the military.
    3. LINGUISTIC HINTS AS POSSIBLE EVIDENCE: the substance and style of the language and wording used by the KCNA is one that is more reflective of diction that would be used by the military elements of the DPRK leadership than from Kim Jong Un himself. At the very least, a scenario could exist in which the military had an influential hand in terms of the announcement’s wording.
    4. WARNING SIGNAL TO PRC: Jang served as a symbolic bridge between the DPRK and PRC. Jang was also a supporter of PRC-type economic reforms. As such, Jang’s purge will place a grinding halt to any such similar suggested reforms and any such political progressive espousing such stance (i.e., it is not just one step, but many steps back). The PRC may also interpret Jang’s ouster as an anti-China political stance since Jang was a well known and generally liked figure in the PRC.
    5. IS THIS THE END OR JUST THE BEGINNING?: Jang’s purge represents a known-unknown variable in terms of what other internal struggles above and beyond the usual are occurring as we speak since Jang’s ouster would create an obvious power vacuum and/or ripple effect. Another risk exists in the form of future provocative acts by North Korea on the backdrop of such political reconstitution to either reflect away internal political strife or to show the international community that the DPRK is still acting under one rule. Either way, the international community should be prepared. The best case scenario is that the DPRK remains stable. The worst case scenario, albeit more remote, is one that involves a full-scale implosion.
    For a recent related CNN story North Korean execution raises more question than answers (featuring Korean experts, dJasper Kim and Andrei Lankov), click HERE.
    For a BBC World News interview (with Jasper Kim) regarding the Purge in Pyongyang, CLIDK HERE (interview begins at around the 7:30 min mark).
    If you are interested in how Asia-Pacific Global Research Group can help your organization, CONTACT US HERE.

    North Korea’s “war” declaration: made for domestic consumption but potential for “black swan”

    March 30th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    North Korea has just declared “war” on South Korea.
    This is the latest in a streaming series of increasingly bellicose statements from the DPRK and its 20-something leader, Kim Jong-Un.
    While many commentators are taking a bet (position/view) that North Korea will not do anything that will provoke war on the Korean peninsula, we believe that a certain amount of attention must be focused on a possible “black swan” event in which a small foreseen or unforeseen event can trigger retaliation by the other side per the responding country’s rules of engagement. Unlike recent skirmishes and attacks along the inter-Korean border region, this time both Koreas are on extremely high levels of military alert akin to two sprung traps in which even a small event can trigger a larger-scale conflict.
    We also believe that most of North Korea’s rhetoric is for the public consumption of North Korea’s military brass and general public, in that order. Such acts are in part an effort, perhaps even a desperate one, to secure domestic support, implying that Kim Jong-Un may be losing support at home. Because of Kim Jong-Un’s age (under 30), and inter alia, that he is the nation’s 3rd-generation ruler from the Kim dynastic clan (a “3-3” risk factor), North Korea’s leader has to take a constant “hyper-hawkish” stance to dispel any notion that he may be weak and dovish towards the nation’s historic enemies. Within a Korean cultural context, even one day difference between two people can vastly change relational dynamics.
    Below is a quote from a recent CNN story and video clip related to North Korea’s increasing threats, featuring Jasper Kim of the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group:
    “First and foremost, it’s for his domestic audience,” said Jasper Kim, founder of the Asia-Pacific Global Research Group in Seoul, South Korea. “Because without the support of the military, he won’t be around for much longer. And so he has to bolster his support with the brass.”



    Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman: the odd ambassadorial couple (5 Points)

    March 5th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    (The questions below were based in part on an interview with a local South Korean broadcaster)
    1) What is the significance of Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea?
    From a political standpoint, Rodman’s visit to North Korea – accompanied by the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and executives from VICE media group (a news and media group set to debut a related show on HBO in April 2013) – was significant in terms of Kim Jong-Un’s efforts to turn the one-off basketball event into a global diplomatic event that could appeal to the masses, and as a result, serve as a highly calibrated opportunity to continue its push for legitimacy (from the international community) and sympathy (at the grassroots level from average citizens in and beyond Asia).
    2) Why did Kim Jung Un allow Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters into Pyongyang?
    Our view is that the DPRK leader took a creative low risk potentially high reward strategy of using the meeting between the highly visible American basketball envoy and North Korean officials (including Kim Jong Un himself) into a shuttle basketball diplomacy forum–by openly declaring that (1) the North Korean leader not want “to do war” with the United States; and (2) Kim Jong Un’s public declaration for President Obama: to “call him [Kim Jong Un].”
    What was notable and fairly striking was that such comments were made so public to such a sports cult of personality like Dennis Rodman – who is both famous and infamous within and beyond the basketball court – instead of through more discrete private diplomatic channels. The bottom line is that the highly covered and highly unlikely meeting of basketball enthusiasts from the U.S. and DPRK was a global public platform for Kim Jong Un to reach out to people around the world at the grass roots level – through the medium of basketball – to place pressure on the international community to perhaps rethink the way that people view the closed Stalinist state (as perhaps not so closed after all).
    Such event viewed in context with the DPRK’s past recent acts of increased communication with the international community such as by (1) allowing global media outlets to report on the failed missile launch in early 2012; (2) increased and more rapid reporting of both positive and negative local news events (e.g., failed and successful missile launch attempts in 2012); (3) greater openness in the frequency and range of prominent foreign dignitaries (eg, from Bill Clinton to Eric Schmidt); and (4) increased use of mobile phones by both DPRK citizens (through Orascom/Koryolink, a 3G joint venture service) as well as foreigners being allowed to use social media and the internet (including Google) while visiting and reporting on North Korea, which led to the first tweet from the so-called Hermit Kingdom, represents a less than subtle message from Kim Jong Un to the outside world that he views the opening of the DPRK as inevitable and perhaps even favorable.
    Not one event is a game changer, but the culmination of such emerging pattern of openness is certainly deserving of serious attention and analysis.
    3) Rodman and Kim Jong Un watched a basketball game together and sometimes talked without a translator. The former NBA star was also invited to Kim Jong Un’s palace for a lavish dinner party. Why did the young leader meet and spend significant time with Rodman, but not Google’s Eric Schmidt?
    Kim Jong Un’s decision to meet former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman and not Google’s Eric Schmidt (earlier in January) was probably based on comfort level and cost-benefit analysis by the DPRK leadership. In short, meeting with Dennis Rodman provides relatively more potential upside relative to its possible downsides. Rodman is not known for his diplomacy, which in part, led to Rodman’s positive comments towards Kim Jong Un during his visit as a “friend for life” and “good guy.” Of course, the young Kim Jong Un’s affinity for the Chicago Bulls team (that won six national championships in the 1990s), and in particular, NBA superstar Michael Jordan is well known. So along with the political upsides of the meeting, Kim Jong Un also had the opportunity to directly communicate with one of his coveted sports heroes. On the other hand, Eric Schmidt would represent more possible downside than upside since Schmidt and Google are vocal proponents of free, open, and transparent access to information and the internet–things that are not plainly existent in North Korea today.
    4) Rodman’s visit has attracted a lot of attention worldwide. What did Rodman gain from the trip?
    Rodman gains from added publicity. As the mantra goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” And certainly, a high profile visit to North Korea – perhaps the most closed state on earth – catapulted Rodman into the top headlines of news affiliates around the world. Vice, the company that organized and sponsored the trip, also benefits for the same reason–attention and publicity, which can easily be monetized and highly beneficial for their new eight-part TV upcoming series debuting next month in April. As one part of the quid pro quo for the trip, VICE agreed to donate basketball backboards and scoreboards to North Korea, which is actually an effective demonstration of “soft power” and “cultural diplomacy,” ironically made by an upstart magazine rather than at the state level.
    5) The visit came only about two weeks after North Korea’s third nuclear test. Does the trip signify a thawing of US-DPRK relations?
    In short, we believe that the event is an olive branch from the DPRK generally, and Kim Jong Un, specifically, to the U.S., generally, and President Obama (a huge basketball fan and former basketball player), specifically. Kim believes that the shared interest in U.S.-style basketball can serve as the foundation from which to develop stronger (or at the very least, less antagonistic) relations between the U.S. and North Korea. Also note that the teams were not set up in a “U.S. v. DPRK” team competition, but rather, blended teams in which each team had players from both countries, which culminated into a 110-110 tied score (whether the tied score was pre-orchestrated is another issue). Little downside and even some possible upside could be created by perhaps mirroring the basketball diplomacy efforts with a similar basketball game in the U.S. (possibly in Washington D.C.).
    In a time of heightened tensions in and around the Korean peninsula, perhaps it is one of America’s most iconic sports, basketball, that can help bring the U.S. and DPRK closer together to forge a diplomatic solution to the ongoing impasse.
    Of course, as many commentators have already noted, North Korea has one of the most dire human rights conditions on the planet. So, obviously, the “sports sunshine policy” analysis here should not be construed to condone or find acceptable the conditions that exist and have existed in the DPRK and its citizens. Also, Dennis Rodman’s role and visit to the DPRK is in no way one as a state-appointed diplomat or ambassador. Rather, this research note’s takeaway is that the sports sunshine policy option between the U.S. and DPRK should be one that could be explored as a way to break the half-century impasse.
    Below is an ABC news clip related to Dennis Rodman’s recent trip to North Korea.

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    Jasper Kim – on CNN TV (July 17, 2012)

    July 25th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    Jasper Kim, CEO of Asia-Pacific Global Research Group, gives his views to CNN TV
    on the socio-economic and political risks related to the ouster of a key North Korean military official.