▲ The North Korean Research Center Seminar at Korea University. Photographed by Park Min Ha.
On November 22, the North Korean Research Center of the Asiatic Research Institute Korea University (ARI) hosted an academic seminar at the Global Conference Hall of the Centennial Memorial Samsung Hall. The seminar was originally planned to feature a special lecture by Thae Yong-ho—the former deputy ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Kingdom (U.K)—but Thae unfortunately did not attend the conference due to an illness. On his behalf, Professor Nam Sung-wook (Department of Korean Unification, Diplomacy and Security, Sejong Campus) delivered the lecture from 2:00 P.M. to 2:40 P.M. Professor Lee Jung Nam of the ASI led the main debate afterwards, with Director Lee Yeong-jong (Unification Research Institute of the *JoongAng Ilbo*), Director Shin Beomchul (Asan Institute for Policy Studies), and Director Cho Nam-hoon (Korea Institute for Defense Analyses) participating in the main debate until 4:00 P.M.
After a short opening speech by the ASI Director Kim Icksoo, Professor Nam started his lecture titled “The Evaluation on the Situation of the Korean Peninsula and Prospects for 2020.” The lecture discussed a variety of subjects related to North Korea, including the nation’s history with war and nuclear weapon development, North Korea-United States (U.S.) relations, and the implications of denuclearization. Wrapping up the lecture, Professor Nam gave four possible scenarios of the North Korea-United States relations, with the best scenario being the negotiation for the nuclear disarmament of North Korea. The other three scenarios, in order of preference, are: *the muddle-through scenario*, *the slow scenario*, and finally a *worst case scenario*.
The remaining speakers then discussed the prospects of the North Korean-U.S. relations for 2020 with great depth and breadth. Director Lee shared his analyses that the current administration are at fault in the wrongful perception of North Korean defectors, and that the U.S. President Donald Trump is using global affairs as a stage, featuring himself as the main star and having some of the world’s most prominent leaders as guests to his *show*. Director Cho asserted that North Korea is currently focusing on their rights to life and rights to development, and also spoke about the current talks on the Japan–South Korea General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and the need for the ease of financial sanctions. Finally, Director Cho provided a more neutral perspective by discussing the elements that can provoke and delay the actions of both North Korea and the U.S. and also argued that strengthening the sanctions on North Korea would be tough for the U.S.