Military representatives of North and South Korea on their way to the military talks on February 8, 2011 (Source: Reuters/Defence Ministry/Handout)

Military representatives of North and South Korea on their way to the military talks on February 8, 2011 (Source: Reuters/Defence Ministry/Handout)

Wikileaks has given the world insight into the immense volume of diplomatic traffic that passes between Washington and its embassies, even if it hasn’t been entirely significant. One of the State Department’s biggest victims of the whole debacle is the embassy in Seoul which has seen a large amount of its cables posted online. Japan Security Watch has looked at a few of the cables concerned with South Korea’s approach to the North’s possible demise, but Leon V. Sigal over at the US-Korea Institute at SAIS’s 38 North blog released a far more comprehensive post today:

In the first leaked cable from Seoul to Washington, sent January 29, 2009, before the North’s nuclear and missile tests that spring, U.S. political counselor Joseph Yun warned Washington about the “tougher approach” taken by Seoul and Pyongyang’s “severe” response [...].

As subsequent cables reported, the recurrent refrain of South Korean officials in their conversations with U.S. diplomats was that North Korea’s economy was imploding, its leadership transition was in trouble, and the regime itself was on the verge of collapse.

This refrain has been the major premise of the South’s “tougher” policy, one based largely on economic embargo and political isolation toward the North in the belief that just a little more pressure will topple Kim Jong Il.

You should definitely read the rest of the summary and the corresponding cables over at 38 Point.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch