"The most important thing is that North Korea continues to develop their nuclear capacity and as long as the United States remains sidelined, I see no likelihood that that's going to change. Maybe putting people ahead of plutonium, focusing on some of the people-to people-interactions, which could address some of the pressing human rights concerns in North Korea but also perhaps begin to create some greater enthusiasm inside North Korea among the elite for renegotiating the terms of their current path, their current commitment to nuclear weapons."
"You just mentioned people over plutonium approach, what do you mean exactly by that?"
"So I think the United States and other parties of the six party talks need to focus on building a constituency inside North Korea for a change. It means even if you keep sanctions, doing things like family reunion visits, cultural exchanges, bringing North Korean students out of North Korea, all of these things can help show North Korea that true path to security does not lie with nuclear weapons."
"Really, knowing that there is this huge nuclear threat in North Korea and just using the peole to people approach, wouldn't that be too dangerous?"
"Well, the situation is dangerous now and nothing that the six parties are doing are making it any less dangerous. So admittedly, a people-focused approach will not yield immediate results on the nuclear threat that we face but neither is the current strategic patience approach yielding anything in terms of reduction of threats."
"President Xi Jinping will be coming to South Korea next month. Traditionally, Chinese leaders have visited North Korea before coming to South Korea. President Xi isn't doing that, is this another sign of change in China-North Korea relations?"
"It's a very important signal by China. That China sees the long-term future of the Korean Peninsula being decided more by Seoul than by Pyongyang and China wants to have that discussion ultimately with South Korea. So I think that it's a good sign for China's recognition of the realities on the Korean Peninsula."