The Foreign Service Journal, October 2019

20 OCTOBER 2019 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL O ver the past year, U.S. Presi- dent Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un have held three unprecedented summits—in Singapore in June 2018, in Hanoi in February 2019, and in Panmunjom along the DMZ in June 2019. Where the current process of engagement will lead is difficult to foretell, but the basic contours of the dis- cussion are more predictable. Each of the three summits sparked a flurry of interest from all walks of life, with press outlets meticulously documenting the personal drama and idiosyncrasies of the leaders and their encounters, including their hotel and transportation selections. The summits also sparked a lively debate in the foreign affairs What Does North Korea Want? FSO Patrick McEachern previously served as a North Korean analyst in the State Department ’ s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and as North Korea watcher at Embassy Seoul. He is the author of three books on North Korea, including North Korea: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2019). He currently serves as the unit chief for Nepal, Sri Lanka and Ban- gladesh in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. government or the Department of State. It is hard to tell where the recent, unprecedented summitry will lead, but here are some guidelines by which to measure progress. BY PATR I CK M c EACHERN community over the assumed content of the conversations and wisdom of engaging the North Korean leader at all, so it is useful to bring several basic aspects surrounding the dialogue into clearer focus—namely, North Korea’s fundamental concern for national security and the issue of specific economic sanctions relief. Diplomats will also appreciate the importance of sequenc- ing in a negotiation, and this article explains the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s preferred ordering of transactional discussions as seen from the past three summits. Chairman Kim has highlighted economic benefits through sanctions relief as his early priority, offering some movement on the nuclear issue in exchange. But his government has also noted publicly that later stages of negotiations will require the United States to address North Korea’s own security concerns in the region to elicit more substantial and far-reaching nuclear concessions. North Korea’s Two Broad Goals A great deal has been written about what the United States expects from the negotiations. Experts have dissected the term “denuclearization” to expose different interpretations of what COVER STORY H