by WorldTribune Staff, November 1, 2017
The Trump administration should continue to put “maximum pressure” on the Kim Jong-Un regime, but should also seek “maximum engagement,” a former high-ranking North Korean official said.
Thae Yong-Ho, a former deputy chief at the North Korean embassy in London, defected to South Korea in mid 2016 with his wife and two sons. He will testify to the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.
Thae told a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. that helping North Koreans get more information from South Korea could help spur changes in the reclusive country.
“I strongly believe if we educate the North Korean population we can change North Korea,” he said. “You can’t change the reign of terror policy of the internal regime, but we can introduce the dissemination of outside information inside North Korea.”
He mentioned SD memory cards circulating among young North Koreans as seeds of potential change, noting they are called “nose cards” because people insert them in their nostrils to avoid detection during a body search.
Thae also said Kim Jong-Un’s repeated purge of officials has to do with his insecurity about the legitimacy of his leadership.
“Whenever he watched senior leaders’ attitudes around him, he thought there was a feeling of superiority from the senior leaders because he was the third son,” Thae said. “A lot of the North Korean population doesn’t know that he is the third son.
“Even after five years of power, he hasn’t revealed his date of birth, his mother, and he could not show his childhood photos with (his grandfather and founding leader) Kim Il-Sung.”
On Oct. 31, during his first visit to the United States, Thae said he supports “a maximum pressure policy, but it should go together with maximum engagement.”
“I strongly believe in the use of soft power before taking any military action,” he said, noting the focus of the recent North Korea policy being shifted to “hard power.”