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20.04.29 13:49:23
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국제관계연구소
Vol 35-1 (April 2020) : Sino‐DPRK Geopolitical Curse behind Kim Jong‐un's Olive Branch (Youngduk Jang & Daekwon Son)
Abstract
This study explores Sino‐DPRK relations behind Pyongyang's olive branch in 2018. After several rounds of “war of words” with US President Donald Trump in 2017, Kim Jung‐un abruptly changed his nuclear policy in 2018 by pledging to be committed to denuclearization. This paper argues that beneath the Pyongyang's U‐turn is China's subtle deviation from its traditional geopolitical strategy. After a leadership transition in 2012, China, under Xi Jinping's pursuit of building a responsible superpower shouldering greater international responsibilities and obligations, struggled hard to escape from the “curse” of geopolitics in addressing the Korean peninsula. The resultant estranged Sino‐DPRK relations made Kim Jong‐un's three political goals – namely nuclear armament, economic growth, and domestic support – an “impossible trinity.” Although Kim Jong‐un counted on military adventurism to lure China into a geopolitical trap by escalating tension surrounding the THAAD deployment in South Korea, Trump's inauguration foiled Kim's scheme. As tension between Pyongyang and Washington mounted to hair‐trigger point, Xi Jinping, in the fear of possible US‐DPRK military confrontation, further tightened the economic restraint against the North. Kim Jong‐un, unable to rely on China's patronage for security and economy, was compelled to negotiate denuclearization directly with Washington.

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