Mr Jinwook Choi, President of Korea Institute for National Unification gave a lecture on North Korean Situations and the Prospects of Korean Unification on 6 Sep 2016 at IFAT.

The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade had the pleasure of hosting Mr Jinwook Choi, President of the Korea Institute for National Unification and HE Yim Geun-hyeong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Hungary on the occasion of a lecture given by Mr Choi on “North Korean Situations and the Prospects of Korean Unification”.

Deputy Director-General of IFAT Dr László Vasa emphasised in his greetings the key importance of the North Korean issue in regional stability of the Korean Peninsula and welcomed the numerous vibrant and active societies working on the South Korean and Hungarian relations. He termed the North Korean issue a ‘key priority’ in Hungary’s Eastern Opening strategy, as the Government would like to enhance and broaden the co-operation between Hungary and the Republic of Korea. Dr Vasa also mentioned the importance of South Korea being a close ally and business partner, mentioning Samsung as an example, giving thousands of jobs to Hungarian people. He emphasised North Korea is a threat not just to the regional but also to the global stability which needs to be addressed in a timely manner.

Mr Levente Benkő, Deputy Minister of State for Security Policy was also honoured by the opportunity that Mr Choi could be present on this fruitful occasion. Mr Benkő warned about the recent nuclear test performed by North Korea violating the relevant UN resolution, a sanction voted unanimously by the Security Council and said it is a “serious provocation” of the international community. He also greeted South Korea’s objective to “propagate peace” and mentioned that North Korea is the only unsolved problem generated in the era of the Cold War, nearly 60 years ago. North Korean paranoia seems a serious threat and block to the prospects of unification, a process he said would be beneficial for the region and both countries, similar to that of Eastern and Western Germany. South Korea made an “unparalleled progress” in the years since active war, and he reminded that the co-operation between the V4 countries and the Republic of Korea is also very important.

HE the Ambassador thanked the kind words and complimented the unusually high interest in the North Korean issue from the side of Eastern Europe and Hungary.

Mr Choi, President of KINU begin his speech by mentioning three key issues needing to be addressed concerning North Korea, the nuclear threat, marketization and the standing of human rights. He told the numerous guests being present that North Korea tests nuclear weapons to ‘show off’ and to be provocative, this meaning a deterrent for the US and its allies from an active intervention in the country. Nuclear weapons also provide stability to the country and authority to the regime, he explained. He also added that the communist financial system is a very important prospect that needs to be examined, stating that there are approximately 400 markets working semi-legally in the country.

According to Mr Choi a sustainable policy would be essential to ameliorate the relation between the two countries, but the continued provocation by North Korea made them to introduce a new policy based on sanctions and international pressure, increasing deterrence. This does not mean the end of engagement, he added, but rather a block that has to be overcome. He emphasised China’s support for the sanctions is very important and concluded that North Korea will not be able to maintain this state for a long time and reforms will be needed. South Korea does not know when this will happen, but the country and KINU are continuously trying to prepare.

After the lecture, an interesting Q&A session followed, where participants discussed how North Korea is capable of creating nuclear weapons, where they might source their technology from and that South Korea’s constitution states that everyone born in the Korean Peninsula is de jure acquire South Korean citizenship, hence they very much try to take care for all the defectors moving to the country. All parties agreed that they are looking forward to a brighter future to come.