Security Dilemma on the Korean Peninsula and the Way Out

China International Studies (English) - - Contents - Yang Xiyu

The security dilemma on the Korean Peninsula demonstrates that there is no way out by relying on deterrence to safeguard one’s own security. The region is in urgent need of a permanent peace mechanism for the purpose of common security on the basis of denuclearization.

The Korean Peninsula is where military forces and strategic weapons are most densely deployed. With the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) accelerating the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in recent years, the mutual deterrence between the DPRK and the alliance between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States has been escalating. Both sides have established strategic strike capabilities able to destroy each other. This has caused both sides to become increasingly locked in a security dilemma whereby greater investments in arms may only lead to greater security threats. As a result, tensions have escalated and the risk of war has increased. The only realistic path for escaping from this security dilemma is realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula while establishing a permanent peace mechanism for the purpose of common security. The new concept of security in Asia, as advocated by President Xi Jinping, is therefore of great significance for breaking the security dilemma on the Korean Peninsula.

Ever-increasing Strategic Arms Race

For over half a century since the armistice of the Korean War, both the DPRK and the ROK have maintained huge military expenditures for years on end and have preserved a relatively high global military strength in

proportion to their respective populations.1 Also, about 28,000 US ground, marine and air personnel are stationed in the ROK, which has a size of only 100,000 square kilometers. At present, one basic characteristic of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula is that both the DPRK and the US-ROK alliance are racing to enhance their strategic strike capabilities to destroy the other, resulting in rising threats to both sides. This is manifested in the continuous intensification and expansion of the strategic arms race between the two sides.

First, the DPRK nuclear issue has undergone a qualitative change from inter-korean mutual deterrence to DPRK-US mutual assurance of nuclear destruction. After years of massive investment and multiple ballistic missile tests, the DPRK has obtained ballistic missile forces that cover a number of models with different ranges, including intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the US homeland. After successfully testing a Hwasong-14 ballistic missile, the DPRK’S top leader Kim Jong-un was reported to have claimed that all the US mainland is within the striking range of the DPRK’S intercontinental missiles.2 The DPRK’S nuclear weapons development has advanced even further. Substantial progress has been made in the production of weapons-grade plutonium and enriched uranium as well as the test of nuclear fission warheads and thermonuclear fusion warheads. The US Defense Intelligence Agency believes that after a series of nuclear tests conducted since 2006, the DPRK has been able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to carry it on its long-range ballistic missiles.3 It is conservatively estimated that the DPRK has between 13 to 30 nuclear warheads.4 The various

1 According to statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the number of DPRK and ROK troops rank fifth and sixth respectively in the world, while the proportion of troops within their populations rank first and third respectively.

2 Park Chan-kyong, “N. Korea Leader Says ‘All of US within Range after Missile Test,” AFP News, July

29, 2017,

3 Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield, “DPRK Now Making Missile-ready Nuclear Weapons, US Analysts Say,” The Washington Post, August 8, 2017, national-security/north-korea-now-making-missile-ready-nuclear-weapons-us-analysts-say/2017/08/08/ e14b882a-7b6b-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html.

4 David Albright, “DPRK’S Nuclear Capabilities: A Fresh Look,” Institute for Science and International Security report, April 26, 2017,

tests already conducted by the DPRK showcase the country’s commitment to becoming a world-class nuclear player with various land and sea-based mobile launchers and the capability to strike anywhere in the United States.

From a geostrategic point of view, the rise of the newborn nuclear power means that the small peninsula will give birth to a nuclear state guided by the principle of preemptive strike, which in turn will accelerate the structural shift from the “peace with terror” based on inter-korean mutual deterrence toward the mutual assurance of nuclear destruction between the DPRK and the US.

Although the DPRK will never develop the same size of nuclear arsenal as that of the US, the strategic location of the peninsular country between China and the ROK has created a de facto asymmetrical balance of nuclear terror. The only nuclear test site of the DPRK is located in Punggye-ri, less than 80 kilometers away from Changbai county in China’s Jilin Province. If the US plans to conduct a nuclear strike against the state with an area slightly exceeding 120,000 square kilometers, it will doubtlessly be opposed by both the ROK and China. This is a concern the US must consider before deciding a nuclear attack. Unlike the US, should the DPRK desire to use hydrogen bombs to preemptively strike the vastly populated United States, it need not consider any third-party factor. It may not even have to consider the so-called “precision bombing.” This is the basic geopolitical condition for the DPRK to achieve “nuclear deterrence balance” with the US. The status quo could be understood as a geopolitical lever that will not only escalate the mutual deterrence between the DPRK and the ROK to the dangerous mutual assurance of destruction by weapons of mass destruction, but will also make the US accelerate the deployment of its missile defense and offence forces on the Korean Peninsula and even in the broader Northeast Asia. Such a situation will likely result in greater strategic investment from the US to the Peninsula.

Second, the US-ROK military alliance has been continuing its strategic transformation with the goal of destroying the DPRK regime. With the deteriorating situation on the Korean Peninsula, the scope of

cooperation and operational coordination by the US-ROK military alliance has been constantly adjusted in depth. Hence, the goal of the alliance has changed from a defensive posture focused on defeating a DPRK invasion to preemptive destruction of the DPRK regime. The nature of the US-ROK alliance has shifted from defensive to offensive. This transformation has been highlighted by the continuous renewal and adjustment of the US-ROK alliance’s combat plans against the DPRK.

The Operations Plan 5027 (OPLAN 5027) is the most important plan of the United States and the ROK targeting the DPRK. During the Cold War, this Us-dominated plan was changed from a model of “retreatdefense-counterattack” to a model of “forward deployment-defensecounterattack.” With the end of the Cold War and the escalation of the DPRK nuclear crisis, the OPLAN 5027 has been increasingly focused on completely destroying the DPRK regime in a total war. Following the outbreak of the first DPRK nuclear crisis in 1994, the United States made drastic adjustments to its combat scenarios and demanded the use of the US military bases in Japan to provide logistical support to the Korean Peninsula should a war break out. After the Bush administration proposed the strategy of preemptive strike against the DPRK in 2002, the US military immediately amended the plan accordingly and proposed the US military to attack the DPRK alone if necessary, even without consulting the ROK. With the continuous progress of the DPRK’S nuclear weapons program, the United States has continuously revised and updated the OPLAN 5027 and successively formulated the OPLANS 5027-04 and 5027-06, which witnessed major structural adjustments to the US-ROK allied forces, making a massive reduction in the number of artillery and ground troops and replacing them with naval and air force units and precision-guided missiles as the main force and means of fighting against the DPRK. In order to accelerate the abovementioned transformation of operational modes of the US-ROK allied forces, the United States and the ROK rolled out the OPLAN 5027-08 and established an integrated plan for the formation and coordinated actions of the allied force units in the

coming period.

With the acceleration of the DPRK’S nuclear missile development and testing in recent years, the United States and ROK have especially formulated the OPLAN 5015 for “the 21st-century approach of precision strike and limited war” and expanded the scale of joint military exercises since 2015. The subjects of military exercises include 4D (detect, disrupt, destroy and defend) operations, special force operations, decapitation strike, targeted bombing of deep tunnels, beach landing and seizure of key points, among others, with an aim to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of a preemptive strike against the DPRK.5

The above adjustment process has gradually transformed the US-ROK military alliance into an offensive alliance able to eliminate the DPRK regime. This increasingly clear strategic and tactical readjustment against the DPRK regime and its supreme leader has prompted the DPRK to further enhance its nuclear deterrence and thus escalated the tensions on the Peninsula, resulting in both sides being dragged deeper and deeper into the security dilemma.

Third, the introduction of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in the ROK has further complicated the situation and might lock the security of the Korean Peninsula into major-power strategic competition. While the ROK has vigorously developed its ability to attack the DPRK, it has completed the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system. On the surface, the move is a response to the DPRK’S ballistic missile threats. In fact, what is at stake is the US global deployment of its missile defense network.

Using the DPRK missile threat as an excuse to introduce THAAD into the ROK followed a similar pattern as introducing missile defense systems into Europe under the pretext of the Iranian missile threat. It is in fact a strategic move of the United States aimed at building a global missile defense

5 Michael Peck, “OPLAN 5015: The Secret Plan for Destroying DPRK (and Start World War III?),” The National Interest, March 11, 2017,

network. The expansion of THAAD into the ROK lays a solid foundation for the US to gradually establish a missile defense network in East Asia similar to the one it has in Europe.

THAAD is one of the missile defense systems with the highest success rate in tests. The maximum interception range is 200 kilometers and the vertical range is as high as 150 kilometers. Although THAAD is a tactical anti-missile weapon, the X-band radar equipped to the system has a maximum surveillance range of 1,500-2,000 kilometers. This can monitor not only the military targets in a large area of eastern China, but also the whole process of China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, if the X-band radar approaching China is networked with the S-band radar in Alaska. Theodore Postol, professor of science, technology, and security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former US Chief of Naval Operations science and policy advisor, has indicated that deploying THAAD in the ROK threatens China’s strategic deterrence capability.6 Similarly, the deployment poses threat to Russia’s strategic deterrence in its far eastern region, and therefore has been strongly opposed by both China and Russia. As pointed out in a joint statement by the two countries, the crux of anti-missile systems such as THAAD is that they break the global and regional strategic balance and undermine strategic stability. “China and Russia oppose the strengthening of military presence by external forces in Northeast Asia, and oppose building a new anti-missile outpost in the region as part of the US missile defense network in the Pacific under the pretext of the DPRK nuclear and missile threats.”7 Although the ROK has, through a series of dialogues with China on the THAAD issue, formally promised not to target third parties or undermine China’s strategic and security interests, there remain uncertainties regarding the implementation of such commitment.

6 “US THAAD System in ROK Would Threaten China’s Deterrent,” Sputnik International, April 3, 2016, 7 “China-russia Joint Statement Criticizes US Destabilizing Global Strategic Balance,”, June 27, 2016,

Nuclear Issue: Key Variable in Peninsula’s Security Dilemma

Among the various complex contradictions in the Korean Peninsula security dilemma, the major one is the wrestling over the nuclear issue by the DPRK and the United States. This is not only causing turmoil in the security situation around the Korean Peninsula, but also profoundly affecting the security order on the Peninsula. The DPRK nuclear issue continues to deteriorate due to two abnormalities on the Peninsula. First, the Korean Peninsula remains in a state of war de jure. Although the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement resulted in an effective ceasefire, formal negotiations have not been held and a peace agreement to ensure the Korean Peninsula’s lasting peace and security has yet to be signed. Second, the Korean Peninsula is still in a cold war status. Although the Cold War has long ended, the relations between the DPRK, on one side, and the United States and the ROK, on the other, are far from normal. In fact, relations have continued to deteriorate, which has prompted both sides to strive to develop the strategic strike capability to destroy the other.

This is the geo-political environment on the Korean Peninsula in which the state of war and the status of cold war are superimposed on each other. Since the early 1990s, the DPRK nuclear issue has been a determining factor for the ups and downs between the DPRK and the United States. It also leads the direction of the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The situation of the Korean Peninsula stabilizes whenever the DPRK and the United States reach compromise and fulfill agreement on the nuclear issue. The DPRK’S plan to secretly develop nuclear weapons started in the 1950s, but only after the Cold War did its nuclear capabilities start to become a real concern. From 1993 to 1994, the DPRK and the United States became sharply antagonistic to each other over the inspection of nuclear facilities in Yongbyon, triggering the US to prepare for a “surgical” military attack. Later on, however, the two countries signed a framework agreement after tense negotiations, which not only defused the immediate

crisis of war, but also opened the door to bilateral relations. Based on the framework agreement, the two sides went through intensive negotiations, focusing on 21 issues including denuclearization, the DPRK’S ballistic missile development, terrorism, economic and trade relations, establishment of liaison offices and energy development projects on the Korean Peninsula, among others. Bilateral agreements on 18 issues were signed.8 During this period, the security relations between the US and the DPRK apparently stabilized, and the US, by means of the United Nations, started to provide the DPRK with sizable grants. In particular, in response to the food shortage in the DPRK, the US government provided about 1.09 million tons of free food aid during the fiscal years of 1995-2000.9 A joint communiqué was issued by the two countries in 2000, proclaiming that they would work together to “build a new relationship free from past enmity.”10 Negotiation and cooperation between the DPRK and the US on the critical and sensitive nuclear issue not only made a significant breakthrough and improvement in the bilateral relations, but also led the tensions on the Korean Peninsula to ease and created the necessary political climate for the first inter-korean summit in 2002. During this period, the mutual hostility between the DPRK and the US-ROK alliance was at a relatively low level.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula deteriorates and runs the risk of war when the DPRK-US antagonism over the nuclear issue escalates. When the United States discovered the DPRK’S secret development of enriched uranium, which is in violation of the Framework Agreement, in 2002, it immediately rescinded the agreement, prompting the DPRK to publicly accelerate its pace of nuclear weapons development. The security landscape on the Korean Peninsula and the relatively stable US-DPRK and inter-korean relations were thus completely broken, and the tense

8 Robert Carlin and John W. Lewis, Negotiations with DPRK: 1992-2007, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University, January 2008,

9 “US Assistance to DPRK,” CRS Report, RS21834, updated July 31, 2008, Rs21834.pdf.

10 “US-DPRK Joint Communique,” October 12, 2000, eap/001012_usdprk_jointcom.html.

confrontation focusing on the DPRK nuclear issue entered a period of escalating turmoil and deterioration. From the first nuclear test in September 2006, which signified the DPRK crossing the nuclear threshold, to the sixth test in September 2017 and the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile test in November the same year, the DPRK has obtained the strategic deterrence capability to destroy the ROK and strike the US homeland. In response, the US-ROK alliance has continuously strengthened its ability to deter the DPRK. The United States has established and deployed on the Peninsula the capacity to destroy the DPRK with extended nuclear deterrence. In this stage of the security dilemma, in which both sides compete to strengthen their respective deterrence, the nuclear weapons available for the DPRK became the core issue of the US-DPRK strategic competition.

For the DPRK, who faces huge external military threats as well as isolation and blockade, the power of nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver ballistic missiles are both a strategic means necessary to safeguard its national security and regime survival, and a critical leverage to facilitate the improvement of US-DPRK relations. It is precisely because the possession of nuclear weapons can bring tremendous security and strategic interests that the DPRK, under heavy pressure from the international community, wants to become a nuclear power and rely on its nuclear weapons to establish “equilibrium” of military force with the US.11 However, for the United States, the DPRK’S nuclear weapons are not only related to the survival of global nuclear non-proliferation system, but are also directly related to the US homeland security and its “strategic credibility” as the provider of nuclear umbrella for allies. Therefore, the United States has continuously strengthened the deployment of its armed forces capable of destroying the DPRK regime, and persuaded the ROK to deploy THAAD, looking to topple the DPRK regime that rejects denuclearization.

The diametrically opposed strategic resolves and interests between the DPRK and the United States have made the nuclear issue an encased knot 11 “North Korea Will Reach Its Nuclear Force Goal - Kim Jong-un,” BBC, September 16, 2017, http://

for the security plight of the Korean Peninsula. The more the DPRK speeds up the pace of developing its nuclear weapons and missiles, the more the US-ROK alliance accelerates its preparation for a military strike against the DPRK, putting the latter under greater threats, which, in turn, further encourages its development of nuclear arms. Kim Jong-un has publicly announced that the DPRK’S goal of establishing a balance of power with the United States has come to the final stage,12 which means that the DPRK now poses an unprecedented threat not only to the ROK, but also to the US homeland. In response, the US President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that the “strategic patience” of the US government is over, and that all options for resolving the nuclear issue are on the table.13 The sharply opposed stances of the DPRK and the US show that the nuclear issue, evolving since the end of the Cold War, is now at a historic crossroads. By deterring each other with nuclear weapons, the security situation on the Korean Peninsula has reached the edge of war. Either the two sides jointly walk out of the security dilemma or continue to be trapped in the status that is more likely to run out of control, this “balance of terror” cannot sustain. The answer depends on the ability of parties concerned to terminate the mutual threat and open up a path of common security on the Peninsula.

Way Out: Common Security Based on Denuclearization

In more than two decades since the first nuclear crisis broke out in the 1990s, the DPRK’S nuclear deterrence has grown from scratch and developed from weak to strong, but the external environment facing the country has become even more unsafe. The ROK and the United States have continuously strengthened their military alliance during the same period, and the US has deployed strategic weapons of unprecedented density in and

12 “Kim Jung-un: DPRK Nuclear Development Nears Ultimate Goal of Balance with US,” Lianhe Zaobao, September 16, 2017,

13 Peter Jacobs and David Choi, “Trump Warns DPRK after Missile Passes over Japan: ‘All options Are on the Table’,” Business Insider, August 29, 2017,

around the Korean Peninsula. However, the ROK and even the US have similarly become more insecure. This profoundly shows that there is no way out by relying on deterrence to safeguard one’s own security.

Conflicting security interests of opposing blocs

Looking at the long-term and sharp confrontation between the ROK and the DPRK since the armistice of the Korean War, it can be seen that the state of war and the status of cold war on the Korean Peninsula has divided the security interests between the two sides. This is the root cause of the security dilemma on the Peninsula. The geopolitical background of such relations is that the Us-led alliance system in Northeast Asia is opposed to countries outside the bloc in terms of security interests.

From the partial logic of the US-ROK alliance, the more military cooperation between the two sides and between the three sides of the US, Japan and the ROK, the more guaranteed is their “collective security.” However, the reality is that peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia is not only the fundamental interest of the three “collective security” members of the US, the ROK and Japan, but also the fundamental interest of the DPRK, China, Russia and other countries. In the small area of the Korean Peninsula, dividing the DPRK and the ROK into the target of attack and the protected object, under the Cold War mentality of bloc politics, will inevitably lead to a security dilemma for both sides. In Northeast Asia, where security interests are intertwined, separating relevant countries in and out of the region into “collective security” members and non-“collective security” members fundamentally puts the countries in these two groups into a zero-sum game. When the former group strive to enhance their own security by strengthening military cooperation and building armaments, the latter bloc would immediately feel the increase in security threats and thus inevitably respond by cementing their own security. This, in turn, adds to the sense of insecurity among the members of the former group. The gradual escalation of such negative security interactions will necessarily lead to the situation where the security gains of one group is always at the expense of the other’s

compromised security. One party’s pursuit of its own security has become the root cause of the other’s insecurity.14

Urgency to develop sustainable security in the region

The deteriorating security predicament on the Korean Peninsula is mainly due to the unsustainability of regional security order, which is based on the antagonism of security interests. In recent years, the frequent crisis basically reflects the fact that the security order on the Peninsula and even in Northeast Asia is becoming increasingly unsustainable and is entering a period of profound readjustment and transformation.

At the regional level, the post-war security order in Northeast Asia, which was based on the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation but was then seriously distorted by the Treaty of San Francisco, is facing increasingly acute challenges in its stability, adaptability and sustainability. However, a new security order is far from taking shape. In this transitional period, whether a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula can be achieved directly concerns the security of the Korean Peninsula and the kind of security order that would replace the old one based on the temporary armistice agreement of 1953. A security order based on mutual assurance of destruction will inevitably push both the DPRK and the ROK into the dangerous abyss of security dilemma. Establishing a permanent peace mechanism based on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula will not only ensure that both the DPRK and the ROK enjoy common security and long-term stability, but is also an essential prerequisite for peaceful unification of the Peninsula.

The concept of common security, as proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 2014 Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), pointed out the direction for transcending the security dilemma on the Korean Peninsula. “We cannot just have the security of one or some countries while leaving the rest insecure, still less should one seek the so-called absolute security of itself at the expense of the security of

14 John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patria Owens, The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 95.

others.”15 This universal, equal and inclusive common security is the way out of security dilemma, and is highly applicable to the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, which is deeply trapped in the dilemma. In the long-term standoff between the DPRK and the ROK, if one wants to ensure its own security, it must also take into account the security of the other. In Northeast Asia, where security relations between the countries are complicated, historical issues and current disputes are entangled, and forces in and outside the region are intertwined, the expansion of the so-called “right of collective self-defense” and the enhancement of the “collective security” system will inevitably push other countries to step up their corresponding security measures. One country seeking to strengthen its own security will always cause other countries to take countermeasures, which will only lead to a deeper security dilemma for the country concerned. The DPRK, the ROK and the United States cannot break out of their security plights by continuing to increase “nuclear deterrence” or “extended nuclear deterrence.” Only by reducing the threats to each other and establishing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula can the security dilemma that has ensnared all parties be broken and peace, stability and prosperity be realized.

“Double Suspension” toward “Dual-track Negotiation”

There are many different proposals on how to break the security plight caused by the “mutual deterrence” and realize denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. China’s proposal is to move from “double suspension” to “dual-track negotiation,”16 achieving denuclearization and long-lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue, negotiation and cooperation. First of all, based on the principle of “commitment for commitment, action for action” established by the September 19 Joint Statement of the Six-party Talks, it calls for the DPRK

15 “New Asian Security Concept For New Progress in Security Cooperation: Remarks at the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia,” May 21, 2014, http://

16 “Chinese FM Calls for Non-proliferation Efforts, Peace Talks on Korean Peninsula,” Xinhua, April 29,


to suspend its nuclear and missile development activities while the US and ROK suspend their large-scale military exercises, so as to ease tensions on the Peninsula and identify a place of breakthrough to resume the peace talks. Second, based on the stability of situation on the Peninsula, parallel progress would be made on two tracks: one is resuming the Six-party Talks, and, according to the objectives established by the parties of the September 19 Joint Statement, achieving “two completely,” that is, the DPRK completely abandons its nuclear weapons and related missile programs while its reasonable concerns, such as those concerning its sovereignty, territorial security and international status, are completely addressed. The other track is to initiate negotiations on the establishment of a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. in accordance with the recommendations and consensus of the September 19 Joint Statement. All parties, including the DPRK and the ROK, the two countries triggering the Korean War and the direct stakeholders of the current situation, as well as China and the United States, the two most prominent antagonists in the war and the most important external forces today, would jointly negotiate the establishment of a permanent peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula to replace the provisional Korean Armistice Agreement and thus bring about lasting peace to the Peninsula.

The denuclearization and permanent peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula that the dual-track negotiation aims to realize are in essence a legal and order arrangement, which should and must address four basic issues: First, common security should be guaranteed by international treaties, especially the sovereignty and territorial integrity, dignity and international status of the DPRK and the ROK. This requires legally ending the state of war that still exists between the DPRK on one side and the ROK and the US on the other, terminating the United States’ hostile policy against the DPRK and the antagonism between the two countries, ensuring the normalization of relations and peaceful coexistence among the DPRK, the ROK and other countries. Second, comprehensive security on the Korean Peninsula, involving both traditional and non-traditional

security, should be addressed in a coordinated way. In particular, the security interests of both the DPRK and ROK in terms of military, environment and economy should be carefully managed. Third, cooperative security involving equal participation by all parties under a stable multilateral framework should be established, making dialogue and cooperation via multiple channels the basis for common security of all parties. Fourth, the rights of peaceful development of both sides of the Peninsula should be respected, so as to realize and maintain the sustainable security of the Korean Peninsula. This requires integrating all the positive achievements of inter-korean dialogues since the signing of the 1991 Basic Agreement, especially the outcomes of joint declarations of the two inter-korean summits, so that a legal framework for peace, reconciliation and cooperation can be established and the process of peaceful unification can restart. In addition, as the two

South Korean National Security Adviser Chung Eui-yong (center) briefs reporters outside the West Wing of the White House on March 8, 2018, in Washington, D.C., announcing US President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by May.

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