Thae Said, “N. Korea Will Never, Ever Give Up Nuclear Weapons Even In Return for $1 Tri. or $10 Tri.” Former N. Korean Deputy Ambassador to London
"North Korean leader Kim Jongun is seeking to complete his country's nuclear program by the end of 2017, in time for leadership transitions in Seoul and Washington," said Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom. In his press conference on Dec. 27, 2016, at the government complex in downtown Seoul, Mr. Thae, one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to defect to South Korea, said, "Pyongyang is taking South Korea's presidential election and the political transition of the United States with the incoming Donald Trump administration into account in setting its nuclear timetable. "How and whether to make Kim give up the nuclear program now is not about the incentive and its quality and quantity. As long as he rules, North Korea will never ever give up nuclear weapons even in return for US$1 trillion or US$10 trillion." "North Korea sees the end of 2017 as the best time on the calculation that the United States and South Korea would be unable to take physical, military steps to halt its nuclear development because of their own internal political events, the presidential election and government transitions," said Thae. "Kim believes Seoul and Washington will not be able to stop Pyongyang's aggressive and provocative military actions because of their political timetables." He assessed that North Korea is sticking to a cycle of military provocations because it knows that China, its largest benefactor, will not push Kim Jong-un too hard because of its national interest. "China does not want a wave of democracy flowing across its borders, and it is also wary of the closer presence of U.S. military forces if the two Koreas are unified," said Chae. After achieving bombs, the regime will likely attempt to restart talks with the new administrations in Seoul and Washington to acquire their recognition of the North as a nuclear state, according to Chae. "From the North Korean point of view, there are two weak spots in the liberal democratic system. First, any new government in the United States and the South, whether it is conservative or progressive, will try a fresh approach to the North, and second, with a government change, there will be a change in the people who drive the North Korea policy," said Thae. "With the incoming governments, the North will seek to be accepted as a nuclear state, proposing a moratorium in the nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions and a freeze of South Korea- US joint military drills." This is the first time for Thae to hold the press conference since his defection while serving in London. He brought his wife and two sons with him. Thae has been integrating into South Korean society since December 23 after being under government protection. He said he wants to make his activities public despite concerns over possible threats and attempts on his life by Pyongyang: "It would be an honor if I could sacrifice myself for the unification of the two Koreas." During a private meeting with lawmakers on December 19, Thae was quoted as saying that he decided to defect because of his disgust with the Kim regime after recognizing the "abysmal reality" of enslaved North Koreans under his tyranny. Thae, who spent decades in the West, including in Denmark and Sweden, said he learned about the democratization of South Korea and its economic development by watching the country's soap operas and films, harbored the desire to flee to the affluent, democratic South while accessing outside information relatively freely as a diplomat. He was adamant that the Kim dynasty has "no future" and that its instability will only deepen in the face of the young ruler's unabated reign of terror, international sanctions and the influx of South Korean culture. "The Kim regime may look solid on the surface but it's decaying inside," Thae said. "Many North Korean people including the elites like myself are living an opportunistic life - they chant hail to Kim Jong-un during the daytime and watch South Korean films and dramas at night, under blankets." He also called for fellow countrymen to escape the oppressive homeland and lauded other defectors as "unification fighters and slave liberators," vowing to work for the two nations' reintegration. "North Koreans, Kim Jong-un will collapse like a wet wall when you stand up and protest against him," he said. "Let's live freely in a unified country, not live in fear. It is your chance to proudly tell your children in the future that you cut the chain of slavery."