Kim Jong-Il has died – Isn’t that an excellent opportunity for new policies?

By Jan Oberg

Most media focus on the nervous reactions, that this event may trigger instability and perhaps foreign-directed “provocations” as ambassador Donald Gregg is saying here. Well, it’s hard to know.

But while there could be a kind of successor problem or even a military takeover, one could also see Kim Jong-il’s death as an opportunity for improving relations both regonally and with the West.

Statements could come out from the West and South Korea that they are ready to open a new chapter, re-introduce at least parts of the “sunshine” policy, open up for human meetings between North and South Koreans and trade and cultural exchanges.

The US and the West could signal, in appropriate diplomatic manners, the willingness to build the nuclear civilian power facilities that George W. Bush just ignored, deliver aid to the people, and let old grievances fade a bit.

Whatever is said and done in this situation should help bring about the only acceptable solution in the – shortest possible – run: The unification of the divided Koreans. They have the right to that no matter what strategic and other games their own governments and other governments think fit to play for their own sake.

So reconciliation policies in all directions. A military alert and build-up now in the region and by the U.S. will be counterproductive and only shows a one-sided government aspect. A people’s perspective on this situation could open up for reconciliation and co-operation in the future. Japan – if it had an independent policy – and China could play a particular role in facilitating such a new policy.

Will they and the West take such steps? Well, they won’t if they don’t even think of the reconciliation and peace road.

Jan Oberg