The same day that North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in waters off the east coast of South Korea, Ambassador Choonghee Hahn, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, visited Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security (DMGS) to offer his timely views on the security challenges posed by North Korea and to explain how he thinks the international community should respond. Ambassador Hahn’s major positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs include Director-General for Cultural Affairs (2012-2014), Sous-sherpa and Spokesman for the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit (2011-2012), and Deputy Director-General for North Korean Nuclear Affairs (2007-2008). As a career diplomat, his areas of expertise include nuclear non-proliferation; regional architecture surrounding the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia; North American, European, and African affairs; and public diplomacy.

Ambassador Hahn provided in-depth analysis of North Korea’s intentions in pursuing nuclear weapons. He concluded that Kim Jong Un hopes that nuclear weapons will prove a valuable tool for domestic power consolidation, provide leverage for future negotiations with the U.S., and prevent absorption by and influence from South Korea. In Ambassador Hahn’s view, China does not want to see a nuclear North Korea, but they also want North Korea to continue as a vital buffer state serving China’s regional interests. He contends that the solution to the North Korea conundrum lies in, first of all, “showing unified voices toward North Korea with a robust and effective sanctions implementation” and then making North Korea to come back to the negotiation table for genuine denuclearization. He also expressed his hope and vision that Korea will be whole and free through giving North Korea’s people the right to self-determination and the freedom to pursue unification if they desire based on the free will.

After the presentation, DMGS’s own Vice President of External Affairs, Dr. Thomas Cynkin, who served as a former Foreign Service Officer for twenty-four years and as a diplomat in Japan for seven years, presented audience questions to Ambassador Hahn as well as his own observations about the North Korean situation. After the event, DMGS students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to network with Ambassador Hahn and other campus visitors at a special wine and cheese reception.