NORTH KOREA'S POLICY TOWARD SOUTH KOREA: IS THE KA 858 BOMBING A HARBINGER OF C

Created: 4/1/1988

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Korea's Policy Toward South Korea;

a Harbinger of Change?

ombing

Summary

North Korea's bombingouth Korean airliner Intha lossIn start- contrast to Its effort4 tooderate image end heightens our concern about additional violence as Seoul prepares to host the Olympics. In itself, tha bombing docs noteparture from Pyongyang's

longstanding tactics toward Seoul.^

^over tha past two decades North Korea's behavior haswo-track approach to the South, mixing acts of violence with proposals fee talks.

Our greater concorns about violence notwithstanding, Pyongyang continues to attempt to project an Image CTexample, by proposing renewed tana with Seoul. Wo believe Pyongyang recognizes that the political coslsellicose policy could be const

Including damaging relations with its allies, curbing Its limited access io foreign capital and technology, and circumscribing further the- chances for direct talks with Washington tli Sc-'tn Korean President Roh Tae Woo suggesting he is willing to renew dialogue with P'vongyeng after the Olympics,hange in US administrations in the offing, the North may see new reasons for emphasising the "peaceful* side of Its dual approach ovoi the next year, fajjansw

After: More Violence?

Given tha North's record offrom Its essassinatlon raid on the South Korean presidential mansion8 to tha attempt to shoot President Part Chung Hee4 and the operation thet killedoulh Korean officials3 Inairliner bombing last year obviously suggests the threat of violence8 Is acute (see thehe danger seems high now beceuse of the evident motivation for the sabotage: the surviving terrorist clelms the bombing was intended to disrupt the Seoul Olympics. In fact, Pyongyang's attempts so far to subvert the Games have dons nothing tohange In venue, build supportoycott, or foster backing for "cohosilng* with Seoul. Moreover, the airliner episode alone appears to have been too early toignificant Impact on the Olympics, which begin In September. The action, therefore, may have been the firsteries of Incidents planned to portray South Korea as unsafe.

The Diplomatic Approach?

Despite our concerns about eddltlonel violence.In the rjsar term, we do not believe thencidentolicy mat will rely"solely on thlsxourss. Pyongyang has reasons to stress diplomacy end dialogue as .wall In the months ahead. In fact, since the airliner bombing, the North has continuaif to try to eppasr the party

Soc/e't Nofpfn Nocoofract)

mosi Interested In tension reduction and talks under the auspices ot the suspended North-Southn botfiNorth Korean officials continue to repeat well-worn themes thatyongyang's 'peacelul* world view, Includingps sucheducing its military forces afJasaV

Guidance from the top in Pyongyang suggestscan expect more ot the samen his New Year's speech. President Kim ll-song calledorth-South conference, attended by representatives ot both governments and all political parties, on tension reduction. The proposed agenda encompassed familiar Items, Including discussion of Team Spirit the annual US-South Korean Joint military exercise, disarmament and Olympics cohostlng. Following up on the speech. In January and again In March, Pyongyangeries of joint conferences to discuss its ideas, to be held in the two capitalsreliminary session at Panmuntom. SJJSJJSJSJJ

ublicly blaming P'yoni

We believe P'yongyang appreciates the political costs of relying solely on violence to Influence events In the South. North Korea's four-year-long attempt to use moro flexible diplomatic tactics obviously has failed to achieve Its presumed goals of direct talks with Washington. Olympic cohostlng with Seoul, and better access to western capital and technology, but P'yongyang has few. If any, attractive policy alternatives. Use of violence alone would not help P'yongyang close the widening gap between tha North and South In their longstanding competition for international prestige and recognition. Nor would it turn back the South's progress In expanding contacts with Beijing andIt could accelerate the trend by alienating the Chinese and Soviets:

Beijing and Moscow have avoided bombi

The North could well conclude that any movement toward contacts with the United States is unlikely without some emnhaals on dlolometie

New Openings In Seoul?

The coming year may offer P'yongyang other reasons for pursuing the diplomaticnew administration In Seoulew one In Washington In It

oSfjm Nocoelract

In public. Ron has suggested an inclination toolar tone toward tha North than Ms predecessor

Shortly after the airliner Incident. Ron downplayed Pyongyang's culpability by suggesting the terrorist auspecta might either represent only "bellicoser be rogue sctlvtsts who did not act on behalf of the North Koreanshole The remarks appear Intended to give Kimece-savlng way to extricate himself from theallout similar to the tack taken by President Park Chung Ileahen he chtracterlred the aborted commando attack on the South Korean presidential mansionroguend thus paved the way for the first North-South dialogue.

Roh's flexibility was also presaged during his presidential campaign, when be broke with policy Intended to ensure Seoul's allies did not get out ahead in relations with North Korea by publicly stating Washington end Tokyo could ntcognlze Pyongyang bafore Moscow and Beijing recognized Seoul. Ron also endorsed the North-South dialogue, calling for regular Cabinet meetings,big brother-lrrrje brother" relationship between Seoulong>ais

To be sura, the North is likely to see thorns In Roh's olive branches, in it tell, the "big brother-tittle brother analogy no doubtdemand for equal cohostlng status with Seoul In the Olympics testifies to the Importance of suchNorth Korea would be loath to concede other disadvantagesla the South. In dealing with Roh's Idea of providing aid. for Instance. Pyongyang would be unlikely to admit It needs help, or that the Soulh la better off economically. The North slso has steadfastly opposed cross-recognition In any formloy to permanently divide the peninsula. Pyongyang probably recognizes that Roh Is nol risking much on the issue, given Seoul's success already in expanding contacts with the Norths allies.;

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Korea may also9 and beyond asetter chance tor contacts with the United Statesew US administration settles in. Washington will remain the kay target In Pyongyang's strategy to win withdrawal of US troops, and the North may see continued pursuit of Its diplomatic track as essuntlal if It hopes to take advantage of new departures Inon Korea policy.

Secret NoVorn Noco^traet)

iepfet No^Jdrn Noco/ftracr

Selected Example* of tha North's Dual Approach

) Presidentn-song proposal talks leadingorth-South confederation. wlthd.awai ot us forces, and mutualen each

im reiterates the confederation proposal

3 Pyongyangonsggression pact standing committee for cultural exchanges,onference of North-South representative!.

S: South Korean security forcesorth Korean agent north of Seoul. He confesses he wasission to assassinate President Park Chung He*

North Korean guerrilla forces operate inside South Korea In up to company-slse strength The forces seek to carry out swiftly ax ecu tad attacks against US and South Korean military forces and Inflict heavy casualties.

yongyang callsorth-South conference ol political parties and social organizations.

a: North Korean commandos attempt to attack the South Korean presidential mansion to assassinate President Park.

en guerrilla force lands on the east coast ol South Korea and unsuccessfully attempts toopular Insurgency. The entire lores Is eliminated as It travels over'.nd to the North

hird North. Korean attempt to kill Park fallsomb explodes prematurely.

yongyangroposal for "peaceful reunification" that callsorth-South political consultative meeting Involving representative! Irom political parties and public organizations.

he two Koreas exchange presidential envoys, conduct humanitarian contacts through the Red Cross, andouth-North (Ordination Committee. Intermittent working-level contacts in the SNCC channel continuend In the Red Cross channeltth no substantive progress

ourth North Korean attempt to kin Park falls when an assassin's bullets strike Mrs Park Instead.

he North Korean Premloreeting with the South Korean Prime Minister and lor the first time officially employs the term Republic ol Korea.

im ll-song proposes loemocratic Confaderel Republic of Koryo. although he subsequentlyouth Korean proposal for summit talks

Sestet No/orn Noccy/.a<

orth Korean agentsanadian assassin to murder President Chun Doo Hwan. but the hit man absconds with ths money.

October IMI: Chun narrowly escapeeorth Koresn-pUntsd bomb in Rangoon. Burma.outh Korean official* are kilted

'yongyang passes through Chineseroposal tor unconditional talka between Seoul. Pyongyang, and Washington

Novemberouth Korea accepts (he Norths otter ot flood relief supplies.

Novemberilateral talks progress intermittently on political.

economic, and humanitarian Issues.

orth Korea presents proposals for talks on political and military issues

Novemberomb planted by North Korean agentsouth Korean airliner.

January.orth Korea callsorth-South joint conference.

Original document.

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