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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Tracking Number:  136491

Title:  "Change Will Come to North Korea, Scholar Says."

Article on press conference with participants in Kwangju cultural center. (900419)

Date:  19900419


04/19/90 *


(Article on telepress conference) (810)

By John C. Law

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- The developments now taking place in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union have been spurred by major worldwide changes which will eventually trigger change in the closed society of North Korea as well, an American scholar believes.

In an April 10 telepress conference with Korean participants in Kwangju, William Taylor said: "The North Korean leadership does know of the changes transpiring around the world," and feels threatened by these changes. But inevitable, necessary contact with the outside world "will change the economic and the political system of North Korea."

Taylor is the Vice President of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.- based think tank.

While maintaining that there is no single cause for the changes that have occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, Taylor listed four "revolutions" -- technological, communications and information, institutional, and ideological -- which contributed to these developments. The impact of these worldwide revolutions will also affect North Korea, he said.

North Korea "must have contact with the outside world. They must have trade. They must have investment," Taylor asserted. These "necessary contacts...will take their toll" in producing change. But "the best hope for real change will come with the death of Kim Il-Sung," he added.

"The debate is when, not whether, North Korea will change," he said, adding that he believed the transition could take place within ten years.

The United States supports reunification and "will always follow the lead" of the Republic of Korea's government. "The South Koreans will set the pace in diplomacy, in signals to the north, in offers of people exchanges, on offers of plans for a transition to a new government, for entry into the United Nations, and (the United States) will support the South Korean lead," Taylor said.

Taylor disagrees with those who charge the United States was partly responsible for the division of the peninsula and thus should take a more active role in the reunification process. Instead, he emphasized the "considerable sacrifice in many areas" made by Americans to preserve regional security and stability.

"The United States was not blameless. It made some mistakes in its diplomacy near the end of World War Two, and shortly after that. But I think the support of the

GE 2 epf407 U.S. for South Korea over time has been steadfast.... The United States has stayed committed and it will stay committed. That I'm sure of," Taylor said.

The proposed adjustment of American force levels in Korea does not indicate any change in American commitment to Korean security, Taylor stated. "There will be a gradual shift in the way that we carry out our mutual security treaty of 1954, but our commitment is totally firm." The United States has proposed to reduce its military presence in Korea.

Taylor noted that U.S. officials had met seven times in Beijing with North Korean counterparts. "The proper signals are being sent" to the North, he said, citing the reduction in the size of the 1989 and 1990 Team Spirit exercises. But as yet there has been no constructive response by North Korea, he said, such as a reduction in the North's forward-deployed troops along the Demilitarized Zone.

The Soviet Union, Taylor said, may "eventually...very slowly, try to influence North Korea out of its isolationism." But he also said he believed that the USSR and the Republic of Korea will soon establish diplomatic relations and that "over the long term" the USSR would support the South because "they need South Korean capital, technology, and management expertise." According to Taylor, the Soviet Union is "impressed with the energy, the dynamism, (and) the self-sacrifice of the South Korean people."

Different nations will make the transition to market economies in different ways, Taylor said. "Each nationality, with its own history (and) traditions, will develop in a different way," he said. In Germany, for example, "the movement will be very fast" toward "a reunified, free market economy." He also said that within the Soviet Union, different nations would "follow different directions...over the next generations."

"It is a very difficult thing for a nation that has been living under a total communist system to immediately shift to a free market.... That just may be more a culture shock than any particular country can stand at any one time," Taylor noted. Yet while the transition would not be easy, "I believe that it's going to happen," he said.

North Korea cannot remain closed forever, he added. "People have to know about what is going on in other regions, other countries in the world."


File Identification:  04/19/90, EP-407
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Target Areas:  EA
PDQ Text Link:  136491

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