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The book traces the past decade of dynamic interactions among the concerned states involved in the Six-Party Talks on North Korean nuclear programs. Unlike existing studies which usually dissect incidents of the talks, the book provides a comprehensive systemic analysis of the Six-Party Talks process from A to Z. These new insights into the nuclear drama in the Northeast Asian region will be of value to scholars, policy makers, and analysts.



Chapter 1. Introduction

I wrote this book to fill a major lacuna in the existing literature by providing a comprehensive analysis of the Six-Party Talks process. Closer scrutiny of the Six-Party Talks as a “process” would provide greater analytical purchase, as a single incident never happens independently without being caused or at least constituted by previous interactions, nor ends without generating effects. Locating the SPT process in the broader context of foreign policy changes, I examine when and how the states set out to “shift” their foreign policy during the SPT, which potentially reshaped foreign policy behavior of other principal states and affected the rise and fall of the six-party framework.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 2. North Korea’s Second Nuclear Crisis and Inception of the SPT

The analysis begins with China’s commitment to the SPT, one of the most mentioned foreign policy shifts viewed in the SPT process. When most existing literatures endeavor to find out the causes for China’s foreign policy shift merely based on either realist or ideational paradigm, the chapter locates the most critical motives behind China’s proactive foreign policy by investigating what role conflicts occurred in a broader context of state interactions. In addition, we can see how it set a reconstruction of other states’ behavior in motion and exerted an effect on the social structure when China’s new role of “proactive mediator” was complemented and solidified by the rest of the five other states.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 3. Banco Delta Asia and DPRK’s First Nuclear Test

The Bush administration’s freezing of North Korean bank accounts in Macau’s Banco Delta Asia and North Korea’s provocative course of action of testing nuclear device in 2006 are brought into the analytical framework to investigate whether they need to be understood as a continuation or a substantial shift of foreign policy which led to structural changes. The analysis focuses on role-makings of the United States and North Korea, as active role enactments to reconstruct the social structure of the SPT, and critically assesses the social structure built through role collaboration between China and South Korea prior to North Korea’s nuclear test.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 4. Bush’s Policy Shift and February 13 Action Plan

A reorientation of the Bush administration’s nuclear non-proliferation policy toward North Korea is discussed in this chapter. Taking prevailing accounts for why Washington began to soften its posture toward the regime in Pyongyang into consideration, the chapter brings the IRT into the context to test if it generates a more convincing analysis for the redirection of the Bush administration’s stance toward North Korea in its second term. The chapter additionally has a focus on the influence of domestic public opinion on states’ foreign policy making. The nexus between agents and structures is extensively discussed by offering the description of how the changed social structure due to the US role-taking influenced Japan’s perceptions and its subsequent foreign policy behavior. The Roh government’s enduring North Korea policy despite strong resistance from the conservative party and the media conglomerates is also analyzed with regard to the changed public attitude toward North Korea.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 5. North Korea’s Second Nuclear Test

North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy is once again put into investigation. Pyongyang’s nuclear detonation in May 2009 puzzled many because the incoming Obama administration was showing its willingness to talk to North Korea. The chapter investigates the US policy actions rather than rhetoric to disclose the motivations of Pyongyang’s provocation. China’s voting for UN Resolution 1874 is another issue to be dealt with in this chapter. Given China’s pragmatic stance of non-interventionism, its support for tougher sanctions against the DPRK was unexpected and unprecedented. There has been ongoing debate between experts whether it was due to China’s increasing degree of caution toward North Korea or due to the need for China to weigh its international responsibility. Without discrediting either account, the chapter provides an illustration of how intra-role conflicts intrigued China to reassess its stance on North Korea’s nuclear program.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 6. Naval Crises in the West Sea and DPRK’s Third Nuclear Test

The chapter revisits two tragedies of the sinking of Cheonan corvette and North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. Whereas most of the existing analyses presuppose that the Cheonan submarine was split in half and sunk by the North Korean torpedo and focus on finding North Korean motivation for the provocation, the chapter starts the investigation by delving into the sources of public skepticism on the Lee Myung-bak government’s official reports and carefully infers that there were more intricate problems than North Korea’s bellicose attributes. The second half of the chapter examines how the leadership transitions in all major Northeast Asian countries as well as how the United States reshaped the complex dynamics of the Northeast Asian region. Giving special attention to Obama’s “strategic rebalancing toward Asia” and Xi Jinping’s “new type of great power relations,” the chapter investigates the factors influencing the attributions in North Korea’s strategic decision to carry out its third nuclear test in February 2013 and the challenges facing the concerned states in breaking the current stalemate on North Korean issues.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 7. Conclusion

The chapter draws together all previous chapters to answer the research questions and also elucidate the implications and plausibility of Interactionist Role Theory as a framework to give a holistic picture of state interactions by explaining the nexus between specific role conflicts and state’s foreign policy shifts and the mutual influence between the member states’ foreign policy actions and the overall relationship among the concerned states—social structure of the SPT. I finally explore areas for constructive collaboration that would promote peace and benefits for all concerned states.
Mi-yeon Hur

Chapter 8. Epilogue

From the second half of year 2016 to the first half of 2017, South Korea was experiencing what I would call a “civil revolution without bloodshed.” In the epilogue, I try to briefly elaborate the kind of social structure that could be created in Northeast Asia in light of IRT. It may give us hints about the prospects for multilateral cooperation on the North Korean nuclear challenge.
Mi-yeon Hur


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