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VANTAGE POINT

December 2009 VOL. 32 NO. 12




CONTENTS

YEAR-END REVIEW : NORTH KOREA IN 2009
INTERNAL AFFAIRS
EFFORTS TO PREPARE FOR POST-KIM JONG-IL ERA
2
N. Korea has exerted itself in stabilizing its ruling system and removing potential political uncertainties amid reports of Kim Jong-il’s failing health.
EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
SWINGING BETWEEN HARD-LINE & CONCILIATORY GESTURES
7
North Korea has alternated between conciliatory and belligerent tones in an attempt to lure the U.S. to the negotiating table for its regime survival.
NUCLEAR ISSUES
FUTURE OF SIX-PARTY TALKS: KEY ISSUES & PROSPECTS
12
Now is the time for Kim Jong-il to make a bold decision for peace, mutual benefits and co-prosperity by participating in the six-party talks.
CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW IN 2009 16

INTERVIEW with U.S. President Barack Obama
Obama Reconfirms Seoul-Washington Cooperation on N.K. Nuke Issue
21

ANALYSES
A ROUGH ROAD AHEAD FOR BILATERAL TALKS
24
N. Korea and the U.S. have agreed to hold one-on-one talks
in Pyongyang within the year, but many knotty issues still stand on the path.

CONTRIBUTION By Andrei Lankov, Ph.D.
CHANGES IN VIEW OF OUTSIDE WORLD BY NORTH KOREANS
28
The spread of illegal mobile phones has played a major role
in changing the North Korean mindset concerning outside world.

NEWS FOCUS
Koreas Clash in Yellow Sea, Raise Tension ahead of Obama Trip
32
Analysts say the clash is unlikely to have a long-lasting influence on inter-Korean ties or the brewing mood for direct talks between N.K. and U.S.

MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS
INTERNAL AFFAIRS
34

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS 39

INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS 44

STUDIES By Kim Joong-ho, Ph.D.
A PROSPECT FOR N.K.-U.S. NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS
AND BILATERAL RELATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR N.K. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
46

FOREIGN TIPS 58

PEOPLE & CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW 60


China bolsters regional clout as North Korea extends survival: experts
N. Korean leader gives Carter cold shoulder in possible message to U.S.
N. Korean leader in China to clinch deal on successor: analysts
Lee's speech hints at no change in N. Korea policy
South Korea comes away with a partial victory at ARF
Obama gives political 'gift' to Seoul, may hope for trade deal in return
N. Korea's exit strategy may be hidden in foe's words
Wind of animosity gusts across peninsula, swinging S. Korean voters
Is there way out of chicken game on Korean Peninsula?
S. Korea condemns N. Korea for torpedoing chances of reconciliation
N. Korean leader's China trip may not be worth trouble
Lee marks 3rd year in office with focus on N. Korean nuclear issue
After fleeing North, female defectors face plight-ridden path to freedom
Lee lays basis for full-scale reform but rough road lies ahead