At rock bottom: Moon Chung-in surveys the ruins of North Korea diplomacy
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At rock bottom: Moon Chung-in surveys the ruins of North Korea diplomacy

NK News

APLN Vice Chair Chung-in Moon was interviewed by NK News, where he raised alarm about the risk of conflict and lamented the sidelining of peace advocates.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula took a turn for the worse this week when North Korea launched hundreds of balloons transporting a nasty surprise for residents in the South — garbage and manure — framing it as retaliation for anti-regime leafleting by ROK activists.

For Moon Chung-in, a former special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in during the heady days of inter-Korean diplomacy in 2018, it was a depressing spectacle.

“It’s not just an impromptu response to the sending of balloons: They warned, then they showed,” he said, referring to a statement by the DPRK’s defense minister days before. “But we do not know what will happen next time.”

Still, Moon saw a silver lining in North Korea’s unorthodox tactic.

“Thank God, the North Koreans did not use anti-aircraft guns as they did in the past,” he said. “But this could be the first stage in an escalation.”

In an interview with NK News this week at Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, Moon said the recent balloon barrage is just the latest sign of how far inter-Korean relations have deteriorated since the promising summits of 2018.

“Now we do not have any guard rails: The Comprehensive Military Agreement is nullified, there are no communication channels between the North and South, and there is no back channel diplomacy,” he said referring to the inter-Korean military deal signed in Sept. 2018 that collapsed late last year.

Consequently, Moon said he’s worried “about the extended escalation of clashes into a major military conflict between the North and the South,” urging the two Koreas to show restraint to avoid a potentially disastrous tit-for-tat cycle.

As for who bears ultimate responsibility for the balloon exchange, Moon said there is blame all around, criticizing the South Korean government’s “absurd argument” that civilian balloon launches don’t violate international law while similar actions by the DPRK state do.

He also raised concerns about how conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol will respond, noting Yoon’s hardline views on North Korean “provocations.”

“Given President Yoon and Defense Minister Shin Won-shik’s remarks, it is very likely that South Korea will respond in kind: [If North Korea uses] anti-aircraft guns, then we would use some artillery pieces,” Moon said, stating the situation could spiral out of control.

The full article can be accessed on the NK News website here.

Imge: Flickr

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