Patterns in North Korea’s Diplomatic Style

Negotiating on the Edge: Patterns in North Korea’s Diplomatic Style

Scott Snyder

The study of North Korean approaches to negotiation with the United States and South Korea provides an excellent vehicle by which to test a wide range of issues in the theory and practice of negotiation: the way weaker states can seemingly enhance their negotiating power against stronger states; the dynamics and impact of a crisis atmosphere on negotiations; the toughness dilemma (whether toughness or softness yields a better negotiating strategy under certain circumstances); the influence of cultural factors on negotiation approaches and outcomes; and the difference between North Korean engagement with South Korea, and North Korean engagement with a superpower such as the United States.

I will provide a brief survey of the debate in the negotiation theory literature on the relationship between culture and negotiation. I will also analyze patterns in North Korean negotiating behavior, basing my conclusions on over sixty interviews that I conducted in 1995-98 with American, South Korean, and Japanese diplomats who participated in official negotiations with North Korea. I will then analyze differences in the North Korean approach to South Korea and the North Korean approach to the United States. Through this study, it may be possible to develop a more sophisticated understanding of North Korea’s negotiation strategy, laying the groundwork for further work on the relationship between culture and negotiation.


There is an active debate among negotiation theorists and practitioners over whether culture is worthy of consideration as a significant factor in the process of international negotiation. Aspects of process and tactics, the relative positions and perceived options of each party to a negotiation, personalities of the negotiators, and the structure of the bureaucratic decision-making process by which negotiating positions, strategy, and tactics are determined have received relatively greater attention in negotiation theory literature than the influence of culture. Some political scientists are hesitant to embrace the concept of culture in negotiation because the definition of culture and assessments of its impact have remained too vague or too broad to be effectively measured. As a result, some studies of culture, when applied to specific cases, have appeared to be oversimplistic, deterministic, or worse, have appeared to engage in cultural stereotyping, failing to take sufficient account of the dynamic, multivariable nature of the negotiation process. Culture has proved to be an exceedingly difficult variable to define, isolate, and study, particularly in the context of the complex process of international negotiations.

The most readily available writing on the practical impact of culture on negotiation appears in the form of how-to manuals on negotiation with various national groups. Robert J. Janosik argues that while such descriptions of “culture as learned behavior” or “culture as shared values” might contain insights that are useful for the practitioner, these volumes tend to present negotiation as a static process that can be predicted if only the right “lessons” are learned. The approaches of these works are criticized for being deterministic in their analyses of cultural variables in negotiation. Other studies have taken a more complex view of culture, presenting it in terms of a more fluid dialectic of forces within society. Such an approach is a step toward a more adequate reflection of the complexities of a real-world negotiating process. Multivariable studies of culture and negotiation in the social-psychological field tend to be experiments that analyze a range of different types of negotiating: behavior, but these experiments are held under strictly controlled conditions that do not accurately approximate the complex, real-life conditions that exist in the negotiating environment. This survey of literature on culture and negotiation suggests that differing analytical needs–rather than substantive disagreements–are what divide scholars and practitioners on the role of culture in negotiation.(1)

I. William Zartman has argued that our understanding of the effect of culture on negotiation is “tautological, its measure vague, and its role in the process basically epiphenomenal.” He acknowledges that his criticisms of culture can be seen as “not directed against the concept of culture per se, but against its empirical uncertainty,” arguing that

what is missing is research on the positive fit of culture … or an

identification of culturally–and behaviorally–related variations on a

common process. Yet if that is “all” that is missing, the concept of

culture is reduced to a ghost–a shadow without form or substance that is

suspected of being present but whose supported effects can be explained

more significantly and directly by something else.(2)

Zartman’s fundamental objection appears to be that a culturalist perspective on negotiation is deterministic and unsatisfying; in his view, research on the primary influences of process and substance on negotiations must be developed fully before cultural influences can be studied, and even then, cultural explanations are more likely to obscure the need to understand factors that are fundamentally a product of process-related variables. Thus, Zartman argues, a cross-cultural approach centered on process–not “How do the Fijians negotiate?” but “Out of a conceivable range of ways of performing a common process, which one is associated with the Fijians, and what is it in being Fijian (or whatever) that determines the choice of particular behavior?”(3)–is the only way to identify the impact of culture on negotiation.

Zartman does not attempt a definition of culture but assumes that it can only be a function of process or a characteristic reflection of an underlying structure. However, proponents of the impact of culture on negotiation argue that culture influences predispositions toward specific processes, approaches, strategies, and tactics, creating an unresolvable “chicken and egg” debate over the relationship between culture and structure of negotiations.(4) Culturalist approaches to negotiation must beware of overdeterministic interpretations, but this is a pitfall that can also trap process or structural analyses, as it has economic and game theoretic analyses of the negotiation process.(5) Christopher McCusker challenges Zartman’s assertion that culture is epiphenomenological, arguing that “implicit in his argument is the notion that theoretical assumptions developed and tested in the West are universal…. [W]e have no a priori reason to assume that negotiation theory developed in one part of the world is equally valid to other parts of the world.”(6) Indeed, this is precisely the central point at issue in the growing body of cross-cultural studies of international negotiation: How do we take into account the apparently divergent approaches (influenced by divergent cultures) that different national groups apply to the process and structure of international negotiation?

Zartman’s criticisms that culture has been defined vaguely and inadequately have motivated scholars to develop a larger body of empirical evidence for understanding cross-cultural influences on negotiation: how similarities or differences in culture might have a facilitating or a negative impact on negotiation across cultures. Raymond Cohen has catalogued a wide range of misunderstandings in various international negotiations that may be traced to differences stemming from deeply held views on identity and action, which have been shaped by culturally defined socialization processes (which reinforce cultural norms or conceptions of identity) within particular social structures.(7) He has described the significance of cross-cultural differences in negotiation as “not just which hand one eats with or whether showing the soles of one’s feet is considered to be seemly. At stake are more momentous matters, such as whether society puts the individual or group first or approaches the resolution of disputes on the basis of abstract justice or social harmony.”(8)

Drawing on six case studies analyzing the role of culture in settling water disputes between neighboring countries, Guy Olivier Faure and Jeffrey Z. Rubin found that “culture’s effects on international negotiation are least prominent when cultural factors are strong, and culture exerts its most powerful effects when structural factors are in remission.”(9) Similar to Janosik’s conclusions above, the analysis suggests a complementary relationship between negotiation structure and cultural influences. Both structural and cultural variables may be either supportive of or an obstacle to a successful negotiation.

Using the concept of strategic culture, Alistair Iain Johnston has provided a carefully reasoned and comprehensive study of contextual factors influencing Chinese strategic choice. He applies a rigorous methodology and logical approach to the question of whether a strategic culture even exists in the Chinese case, and he illustrates both the primary strains of thought that define strategic preference and the factors that determine the priority of actions designed to achieve desired strategic outcomes,(10) The concept is further developed, illustrated, and applied in a volume edited by Ken Booth and Russell Trood, Strategic Cultures in the AsiaPacific Region, which analyzes thirteen different countries to identify characteristics of their strategic cultures and provides comparative assessment and applications for conflict management in the Asia-Pacific. (11)

Perhaps the relationship between structural and cultural factors in negotiation might be best understood if one considers structural factors as the “hardware” of a negotiation. There are many different hardware platforms through which a negotiation can occur, some more efficient and faster than others. But to carry out the process, the “software” of culture must also be taken into account, and both the software of culture and the hardware of structure or process must work together to have a successful outcome. Does the software work in combination with the available hardware? Are there conflicts between the hardware of structure and the software of culture in negotiation? Are new versions of the cultural software, gained through learning or experience, compatible with the available hardware of structure? And how can the structural hardware be improved to facilitate the success of the available cultural software?


Having examined the debate within negotiation theory over the relevance of culture to negotiation, we must also review the history of U.S. and South Korean efforts to negotiate with North Korea since the armistice negotiations brought the Korean War to an end before we can investigate North Korean approaches to negotiation with the United States and South Korea. The most well-known and influential study of North Korean negotiating behavior is the classic study of the armistice negotiations with Chinese and North Korean communists at Panmunjom by Admiral C. Turner Joy, entitled How Communists Negotiate. Turner Joy was the lead negotiator in armistice talks, and much of what he describes is reflective of structural aspects of the communist system revealed in other studies that characterize the communist approach to negotiations as “war by other means.” (12)

Turner Joy’s description of communist negotiating tactics provides useful historical analysis of the process of negotiating the Korean armistice, but the structural factors that existed at Panmunjom limit its applicability to an analysis of current influences on North Korean negotiating style. First, the armistice was negotiated despite continuing hostilities–a very different context for negotiation than that which exists today, after over four decades of peace. Second, Chinese and Soviet backing put North Korea in a powerful position in the armistice negotiations, so that the cessation of hostilities; would be of greater advantage to the opponent. Without backing and in a weak position internationally, North Korea today is in a different structural position. It has lost its key allies, and communism as a global movement has collapsed.

Having avoided negotiations or used them for their own purposes over the course of many decades, in the early 1990s the North Korean leadership finally found itself in a situation in which the only way to ensure its own survival was to engage in and succeed in negotiations. However, the structure of North Korea’s political system and the leadership’s limited exposure to the outside world had restricted North Korean experience and familiarity to tactics and strategies that had been used in previous negotiations during the cold war. Thus, a major challenge for the North Korean leadership was to adapt its own perceptions, tactics, and strategies in negotiation sufficiently to be able to succeed in a new environment. North Korea’s socialization process and historical experience–its negotiating culture–were primary inhibiting factors that slowed its adaptability to new circumstances and shaped its approach to negotiations with the United States over the nuclear issue.(13)


A number of South Korean studies have analyzed the negotiation process between North and South Korea since political talks through the Red Cross were initiated under South Korean president Park Chung Hee and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in 1972, resulting in the 4 July 1972 South-North Joint Communique that laid out the three principles for national unification. These were the first direct negotiations between North and South Korea in the almost two decades since the end of the Korean War, and they marked the initiation of an on-again, off-again series of negotations between North and South Korea over economic issues, sports exchanges, and outstanding political issues.(14) A sporadic but growing negotiating record has been built up in the subsequent quarter-century of North-South negotiations in a range of venues and levels.

One of the early studies of North Korean negotiating tactics was carded out by Jong-Hwan Song.(15) A member of the South Korean staff for the initial Red Cross meetings in the mid-1970s, Song provides an analysis of North Korean tactics similar in some respects to that of Turner Joy. Song identifies North Korean unwillingness to make mutual concessions, attempts to control the pace of negotiations, use of agreements in principle that were subsequently abandoned, focus on projecting a positive image for propaganda value, concealment of true negotiation objectives, and extortionary tactics as characteristics of North-South interaction. Song concludes that although Kim Il Sung initiated the negotiations in 1972, the negotiation was really “a tactical means to produce conditions which were favorable to the communization of the whole Korean Peninsula.”(16)

More recent studies of North Korean negotiating style in North-South negotiations have been undertaken by Kim Do-Tae of the Research Institute of National Unification.(17) In an April 1995 article in Vantage Point entitled “North Korea’s Consistent Negotiating Style,”(18) Kim agrees with Song’s conclusion that North Korean negotiating objectives are to “safeguard its political system and to attempt, together with physical force, to achieve unification on Communist terms.”(19) In this view, North Korea’s real agenda is not reflected at the table; rather, the purpose of negotiation (or pseudonegotiation, as Kim terms it) is to allow North Korea to pursue ancillary objectives separate from those of the negotiation itself, such as to influence positively North Korea’s international standing or to deny potential benefits to South Korea. Those dual purposes in negotiation are reflected in the same kind of tactics outlined in other studies, such as those of Song and Turner Joy: stalling, seeking political agreements in principle that can later be disavowed, backtracking, refusing to offer mutual concessions, and so on.

Kim notes that North Korean delegations are composed of high-level party figures who have direct authority of representation from the top leadership itself. Political control of the North Korean delegation inhibits or prevents free expression of individual opinions. At the same time, North Korean working-level delegations have shown the effects of their isolation and are limited in their capabilities. If North Korea’s negotiating weaknesses in this context are revealed, negotiations will be suspended indefinitely. Also, the North Korean pursuit of “incidental effects from the negotiations” precludes Pyongyang from allowing South Korea to take advantage of benefits from negotiations, even if an agreement might also be of benefit to the North.

Yong Ho Kim of Seoul National University (SNU) has provided a comprehensive academic context for analyzing North Korean negotiating behavior as part of a broader SNU–based examination of North Korean negotiating strategies and tactics led by SNU Institute of Social Sciences president Chung Shi Ahn. Kim’s study compares North Korean negotiating behavior with that of other communist states, such as the People’s Republic of China and the former Soviet Union. Kim makes important distinctions between analyses of North Korean style, strategy, and tactics. He also applies Mark Habeeb’s hypothesis regarding the power of weak states in international negotiations(20) to understand how a small state such as North Korea appears to have achieved its objectives out of proportion to its size and aggregate power compared to the United States. Kim finds that North Korea successfully applied use of alternatives, commitment, and control of the negotiation process to increase its negotiating power in negotiations with the United States.(21)

In Young Chun, a veteran observer of North Korea, provides another comprehensive analysis of North Korean negotiation with the United States. Chun draws on Turner Joy’s work on the armistice and analysis of the Pueblo incident, as well as his observation of U.S.–DPRK nuclear negotiations in Geneva. Chun concludes that North Korea has routinely used crisis diplomacy, brinkmanship, and delay to play for time in unfavorable circumstances. It has also maximized political benefits by demanding that negotiating counterparts “admit, apologize, and assure” that incidents won’t recur, and by exercising patience it has worn down opponents through uncompromising insistence on its own positions. This is achieved through insisting that the negotiating counterpart “save the face” of North Korea by recognizing its positions. Finally, Chun wonders whether traditional North Korean tactics will prove sufficiently flexible to allow North Korea to convert from historic enemy to friend of the United States.(22)

Dong Bok Lee, a veteran of decades of negotiations between South and North Korea, applied the South Korean experience in negotiations with the North in a critique of the Geneva negotiation process between the United States and North Korea, saying,

We cannot rule out the possibility that the “agreed statement” may be yet

another milestone in the vicious circle in which “agreements in principle”

keep on being produced one after another, without reaching a stage when the

elements in the “agreements in principle” can be implemented. In 1992,

North Korea had a time when it was at its best stalling the inter-Korean

prime ministers’ talks based on a case that “agreements in principle”

needed to be supplemented, in turn, by “basic agreements,” “subsidiary

agreements” and, then, “operational guidelines” before they eventually came

to implementation which did not actually come by [sic].23

It is notable that the two most significant agreements between North and South Korea during the past quarter century have come when North Korea sought negotiations with South Korea in response to structural changes external to the Korean Peninsula. The Red Cross talks in 1972 came about immediately following the opening of U.S. diplomacy with China, no doubt as shocking a development to Pyongyang as it was to Seoul. And the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, Exchanges and Cooperation (known as the Basic Agreement), of December 1991, occurred following the collapse of the Soviet Union, another shock to North Korea. At other times, such as during a period of South Korean political stability in 1980 or in the context of international outrage following the Rangoon bombing of 1983, in which seventeen South Korean officials were killed, North Korea has taken the initiative to propose negotiations to press a perceived advantage or to counter international criticism.(24) After a longer period of assessment in each case, however, it appears that North Korea backed away from implementation as old patterns settled in and North Korea adapted to new structural circumstances.


One of the greatest frustrations for American negotiators who have dealt with North Korea is the lack of good information on the decision-making process within the North Korean government. North Korea’s opaqueness has forced analysts to make projections of North Korean intentions based on a relative paucity of reliable information regarding the context in which decisions are made in Pyongyang. The widely divergent views of outside analysts give North Korean negotiators the advantage of seeming to be unpredictable, inscrutable, or irrational, even if they maintain a consistent strategy and use many of the same tactics over and over. However, the growing record of negotiations has produced an ever-increasing body of evidence on North Korean negotiating tactics, the decision-making process in Pyongyang, and the alternatives available to senior North Korean policymakers.

Crisis Diplomacy

Mark Habeeb has written in his book Power and Tactics in International Negotiation: How Weak Nations Negotiate With Strong Nations that weak states can increase their leverage in issue-specific negotiations relative to their aggregate power by preserving or expanding alternatives to a negotiated settlement, demonstrating commitment to achieving the identified negotiating goal, and maintaining control of the negotiating process. Throughout negotiations with the United States on nuclear and other issues, North Korea has used crisis diplomacy to focus the attention of the United States or manufacture negotiating leverage, as well as to manipulate the environment for negotiations so that it reflects more positively in favor of North Korean objectives.

North Korea has arguably used low-level crisis diplomacy for years in its attempts to gain the attention of the United States through the UN Command/Military Armistice Commission process, with varying degrees of success. However, it was South Korea that gained diplomatic advantage through the policy of nordpolitik, putting North Korea at great political disadvantage and broadening the gap in relations between North and South Korea in the early 1990s. Many South Korean analysts viewed North Korea’s ultimate objective in establishing high-level talks in 1990-92 and signing the Basic Agreement as an attempt to lay the groundwork for improved relations with the United States. However, North Korea gained only a single high-level meeting with the United States in early 1992 as part of a deal in which Team Spirit military exercises were called off in return for North Korea’s decision to join the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and allow regular inspection of its nuclear facilities. By late 1992, the IAEA had conducted six inspections and had found unexplained discrepancies in North Korea’s reporting on its program. North-South relations were deteriorating in the context of South Korean presidential election maneuvering and a South Korean push to resume Team Spirit military exercises. Political transitions in Washington and Seoul following elections in late 1992 had distracted political attention in both capitals away from their problems with North Korea, leaving the initiative with the IAEA. The IAEA–having been burned by recent discoveries of a vast network of undeclared nuclear facilities in Iraq–requested unprecedented special inspections in North Korea.

Pyongyang responded to the increased pressure in a way that would clearly focus attention in both Washington and Seoul when it announced on 12 March 1993, that it would withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) effective in ninety days. North Korea had already had the opportunity to discern the high priority placed on nuclear issues in Washington based on the message delivered by Undersecretary of State Arnold Kanter at the January 1992 high-level meeting between the United States and North Korea. In addition, the United States had been the key player in pushing the signing of the Joint North-South Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in early 1992, and the United States was a leading supporter of indefinitely renewing the NPT at an international conference scheduled for early 1995. It would have been a reasonable calculation on the part of Pyongyang that the instigation of a crisis over its nuclear program, along with the setting of a deadline for the resolution of the crisis, might be an effective way to draw the attention of U.S. officials at the highest levels, making direct dialogue with the United States unavoidable and shaping the agenda for discussion away from North Korea’s alleged IAEA reporting violations and toward whether North Korea should remain a part of the international system for countering nuclear proliferation.

North Korea had taken the initiative, defined the alternative costs of not negotiating a resolution to the issue in terms of the survival of the global nonproliferation regime, and used a time deadline of 12 June 1993, to control the negotiations. The striking success of North Korea’s crisis diplomacy was revealed first when the United Nations allowed a last-ditch option for settlement by postponing consideration of international economic sanctions against North Korea–instead calling for international negotiations with North Korea to resolve the issue. The payoff came when the United States indeed changed its decades-old policy (with the acquiescence of Seoul) and came to the negotiating table with North Korea in June 1993. For North Korea, the trick was to manipulate the agenda so that it would include not only the future of its nuclear program and options but also the negotiation of a direct relationship (unmediated by Seoul) with the United States.

The use of crisis diplomacy to threaten North Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT proved to be a master stroke. It set the stage for negotiations with the United States on North Korean terms. North Korea defined the issue and agenda not as North Korea’s violations of the IAEA but as the price the international community was willing to pay to keep North Korea in the regime. And it forced the United States to the negotiating table to allow what many analysts had said was North Korea’s primary goal in any case: the achievement of direct talks with the United States at the expense of South Korea. Without the instigation of a crisis that challenged a major global goal of the United States, North Korea might never have attained its goal of a dialogue with the United States. Even when it sought dialogue under normal circumstances, the United States had already inadvertently sent the signal that without fundamental (and possibly regime-threatening) change in North Korean policies, the best North Korea could hope for was a one-time, one-way discussion–not a dialogue in which mutual interests might be explored on a level playing field.

Brinkmanship: The Boy Who Cried Wolf

The overarching characteristic of North Korean diplomacy as described by American and other diplomats is the North Korean penchant for brinkmanship. Brinkmanship involves such tactics as making unconditional demands, blustering, bluffing, threatening, stalling, manufacturing deadlines, and even walking out of negotiations to produce the effect of crisis or to create the perception that penalties may accompany delay in responding to North Korean demands. Brinkmanship has played a prominent role in North Korean cold war negotiating behavior and is closely related to the uses of crisis diplomacy explored in the previous section.

Brinkmanship is a unilateral strategy in a negotiation and is most successful when the protagonist can demonstrate unconcern with the counterpart’s reaction or the negative situation the tactic creates. The initial North Korean position prior to negotiations has been described by one negotiator as, “If you don’t accept our proposal, we will walk out,” or “We accept your proposal, but you do X first,” a combination of a demand for a unilateral concession and a threat to break off a negotiation. Another American negotiator describes the difference in the U.S. and North Korean approaches in the following way: “We’re criticized if we establish a goal and don’t reach it; they are criticized for not asking for enough.”

Brinkmanship in personal negotiations is often easier to manage than “long-distance” brinkmanship in correspondence between governments, when direct dialogue between officials is impossible. In the context of correspondence between Ambassador Robert A. Gallucci and Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, brinkmanship was more of an issue because North Korean positions were “brittle,” and it was more difficult to take the hard edge off of a document that might contain unintended insults but which nevertheless had to be circulated to a wide variety of levels and departments within both governments. In long distance brinkmanship, there was “no softening of words and no explanation” beyond the contents of the letter itself.

The success of a brinkmanship strategy depends partially on the ability of the party employing such a strategy to keep the opponent from discerning its true “bottom line.” However, repetition of the same threats or bluffing strategies has tended to make negotiating counterparts discount them as empty threats, as in the story of “the boy who cried `Wolf.'” Based on experience with a recurring pattern of North Korean brinkmanship, American negotiators see such tactics as having no real significance, given North Korea’s position of relative vulnerability, and ignore the threats. Such tactics are often counterproductive once their novelty has worn off. “It’s annoying to be yelled at all the time,” says one American negotiator.

Bluff or bluster at the negotiating table may also be a means to cover up one’s own weakness. “When you have nothing else, pride becomes all-important,” one American observer notes. The great danger of brinkmanship is that outrageous threats may keep negotiators from seeing real sources of tension, resulting in an escalation of potential for conflict. “It is hard to tell if you’ve reached the core of their position,” according to one American negotiator. Sometimes negotiators may not discuss the bottom line of their counterpart until after the counterpart has taken precipitous action, creating a new sense of crisis.

Demands for Unilateral Concessions. An initial tactic of North Korea has been to demand concessions in return for merely sitting down at the negotiating table. Unilateral concessions made in response to North Korean demands have generally been pocketed by the North Koreans instead of reciprocated. Such behavior–in contrast to perceived American tendencies to “move the goal posts”–might be called “moving the starting block.” Such attempts to extract benefits in advance may indicate that North Korea has no interest in engaging in real negotiations with the counterpart, because failure to respond to a unilateral concession may diminish trust and damage the integrity of the interlocutor. On the other hand, a demand for a unilateral concession may signal a maximalist position, using an exaggerated demand far in excess of a reasonable settlement to influence a negotiating opponent psychologically in a prenegotiation phase. The higher the perceived initial price for cooperation, the more favorable the terms of an eventual settlement will likely be for the initiator of such a strategy.

Bluffing and Threats. Bluffing accompanied by unspecified threats has been a constant pattern in U.S.-North Korea negotiations. This tactic, which often appears in the opening statement in a negotiation, creates ambiguity about possible North Korean actions in the event that negotiations break down or reach an impasse, putting pressure on the negotiating partner to make concessions to avoid the worst possible outcome. It also conceals the true North Korean position to build pressure in the initial stages of a negotiation. Such threats may be intended either to deter a proposed action by a negotiating counterpart or to coerce the counterpart into accepting North Korean demands. In some cases, the threat of possible action by North Korea has deterred action by the United States, leaving potential threats untested and possible bluffs unrevealed. As the United Stares has gained experience with North Korean brinkmanship, it has ignored more threats and called more bluffs, forcing North Korean negotiators to back down or cave in, with nothing to back up the North’s aggressive position.

Manufacturing Deadlines. Another element of brinkmanship involves limiting alternatives and maintaining control of negotiations through the creation of artificial deadlines. The deadline, combined with demands for unilateral concessions and threats of negative consequences in the event of a failure to respond, produces a sense of crisis that might force a more generous response to North Korean demands than under normal circumstances.

The use of a deadline to exact concessions was part of North Korea’s initial announcement that it would withdraw from the NPT within ninety days of its 12 March 1993 declaration, forcing the international community and the United States to seek a response before the withdrawal would become effective. A major result of the defuelling of North Korea’s reactor in June 1994–beyond creating pressure that eventually resulted in an agreement to return to the negotiating table–was that the time limits for safe storage of the fuel rods created a deadline by which the United States sought to ensure continuation of North Korea’s nuclear freeze through the Geneva Agreed Framework. North Korea’s decision in late 1993 to deny IAEA inspectors’ requests to carry out routine inspections–including changing film in cameras and checking seals in North Korea’s declared nuclear facilities–threatened to erode the continuity of safeguards and created another effective deadline that constrained perceived alternatives for the United States and IAEA.

Threats to Walk Out of Negotiations. One of the most dramatic forms of North Korean brinkmanship has been the threat to walk out of negotiations. The threat to walk out manufactures pressure that might accompany a perceived deadline. It might be a stalling tactic or might be designed to put psychological pressure on a negotiating counterpart to accept the North’s negotiating position. And threats to walk out may not always be effective–or even possible. During the Geneva negotiations, Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, responding in outrage to an insistent American demand, slammed down his briefing book and stood up to leave the negotiating table. The only problem was that Kang had no place to go: this negotiating session happened to be at North Korea’s own mission!

The effectiveness of brinkmanship as a North Korean negotiating strategy diminished greatly once the United States and North Korea reached an initial agreement that gave the North Korean government something to lose. Nonetheless, despite the seeming ineffectiveness of repeated reliance on brinkmanship, such tactics have remained part of North Korea’s negotiating style in the context of the nuclear issue. On issues such as North Korean missile development and sales to third countries, the continued danger of military confrontation near the demilitarized zone, and management of North-South relations, its brinkmanship tactics–particularly in the context of North Korea’s apparent need to create a crisis to be able to negotiate–may remain a challenge for American negotiators. Most serious is the effect of brinkmanship on a negotiating counterpart’s ability to discover the bottom line, with the possible result–as in the case of North Korea’s decision to defuel its nuclear reactor–that an apparently empty threat may turn out not to be a bluff after all.

Creating Leverage Out of Weakness

The third major characteristic of North Korea’s negotiating behavior has been its ability to create leverage both by masking its own weakness and by using the weakness of others to gain concessions. North Korean negotiators assiduously study the weaknesses, divisions, and priorities of their negotiating counterpart and maneuver to achieve maximal concessions while limiting cooperation on the issues that are a priority of the counterpart. The identification of the nuclear issue as a priority of the United States and the international community provided North Korea with significant leverage otherwise unavailable in U.S.-DPRK negotiations. By identifying the priorities and weaknesses of the negotiating counterpart, North Korea’s aggressive, maximalist demands and its stubbornness in refusing to yield to the counterpart’s priorities have provided issue-specific leverage used to gain concessions far in excess of what is warranted by North Korea’s aggregate national strength. Such a guerrilla negotiating style relies on unconventional tactics that would not be available to North Korea if it were effectively integrated into the international system.

By acquiescing only when pressured heavily on sensitive demands for North-South dialogue or North Korea’s return to the IAEA, North Korea has increased its negotiating strength–but sometimes at a cost to its own interests. North Korea’s strategy of creating leverage has been “tactically brilliant, but strategically stupid,” according to American negotiators who believe that North Korea has passed up deals in its own national interest, losing the potential benefits of employing a more flexible or cooperative stance at the negotiating table.(25)

Not only threats of strength (through military conflict or North Korea’s nuclear or missile development programs) but also the threat accompanying weakness (for instance, the chaos that would surround North Korea’s collapse) have been used by North Korean negotiators in attempts to extract concessions from negotiating counterparts. North Korean willingness to come to joint briefings on the Four Party Talks has been predicated on whether the West responds to North Korean appeals for massive amounts of food aid–a position that utilizes the threat of collapse or chaos as leverage to gain needed economic benefits from the international community.

Major tactical components of North Korea’s strategy of expanding leverage to the maximum extent possible include the following: blaming the other side for failure, showing kosaeng, or “suffering,” in the negotiation process, and manipulating the concept of face saving by playing the part of the innocent victim. Blaming the Other Side for Failure. If the negotiation process reaches an impasse or breaks down, North Korean public propaganda will routinely blame the other side’s “unreasonable position” for causing the breakdown. For instance, American negotiators found themselves blamed for attempting to “dupe” or “hoodwink” their North Korean counterparts by introducing the light-water reactor as a “Trojan horse.” This tactic may be useful as a means to put the negotiating counterpart on the psychological defensive. It may also reflect the highly centralized, tightly politically controlled environment of North Korea’s socialist system, in which to admit mistakes may invite harsh punishments or humiliation.

Due to the distortions of North Korea’s own socialist system, mistakes in the North Korean position may never be admitted; rather, North Korean mistakes disappear into a resounding silence and may be accompanied by newly aggressive positions designed to obscure or even deny that mistakes were made. Although North Korea was forced to issue an unusual statement of “deep regret” for the submarine incursion, following eleven rounds of negotiations between North Korea and the United States in December 1996, North Korean negotiators successfully avoided apologizing directly to South Korea or admitting that the submarine was sent to spy on South Korea. The sixty-six-word statement: was issued on a station that broadcasts internationally, but it was not carried in domestic news reports. The statement was also surrounded by a torrent of vituperative and hostile statements toward South Korea and President Kim Young Sam.

“Kosaeng”: Demonstrating Suffering in a Negotiation. For North Korean negotiators, a prerequisite for reaching a negotiated agreement may be the need to show kosaeng–“will,” “perseverance,” or “commitment”–until the last possible moment to ensure that the negotiator has extracted as many concessions as possible from the counterpart. For instance, it may be necessary for the lead negotiator to show that he has undergone pain or suffering before it is possible to move to a give-and-take negotiation process necessary to reach an agreement. The need to show kosaeng applies in two directions: the need to demonstrate perseverance to the negotiating counterpart to extract the most concessions possible, and the need to show to one’s higher-ups back home that the potential deal is the best one that can be achieved under the circumstances.

During the Geneva negotiations, the outlines of a deal appeared in the August 1994 Agreed Conclusions, but further consultations were necessary to settle the complex details that eventually became the basis for the Geneva Agreed Framework. By early October, most of those details had been settled, yet another two weeks of haggling was necessary before it was possible to sign the Agreed Framework. The review of these issues, the introduction of separate sessions between Kim Jong U and Gary Samore in Berlin, and even last-minute attempts by North Korean officials to renegotiate the most objectionable parts of the Agreed Framework were all part of the North Korean team’s demonstration that they had suffered in their efforts to gain as much as possible, from the United States. Likewise, subsequent negotiations between the United States and North Korea, in Kuala Lumpur in spring 1995, dragged on as part of the same need to test what in North Korea’s view was the most objectionable part of the Framework–the central role for South Korea in supplying light-water reactors. Although the outline of an agreement was clear after about ten days of negotiations in Kuala Lumpur, it took twenty-nine days before the issue was finally settled. The intervening period was necessary for Tom Hubbard’s counterpart, Minister Kim Gye Gwan, to show that he had the best deal possible (and for Hubbard to convince South Korean counterparts that the American side had also “suffered” in resisting North Korean entreaties for further concessions). Finally, the matter was settled with simultaneous announcements between the United States and North Korea in Kuala Lumpur and by the board of Korean Peninsula Energy Development (U.S., Japanese, and South Korean representatives meeting in Seoul) on 15 June.(26)

Saving Face. As with other Asian national styles, saving face is an important component of negotiating with North Korea. Congressman Gary Ackerman was told during a visit to Pyongyang at the height of the North Korean nuclear crisis in October 1993, “For us, saving face is as important as life itself,” an expression of the need to avoid the humiliation of having to admit weaknesses or failures in one’s own position.(27)

Face saving came to the fore as an element of negotiations as IAEA inspectors began to uncover evidence of cheating that contradicted North Korea’s records and statements. The dilemma was whether the humiliating loss of face associated with public exposure and condemnation of North Korea’s deception would wreck all prospects for a negotiated settlement, or whether the North Korean desire to conceal its earlier deceptions might be an attempt to save the face of Kim II Sung, whose statements denying the existence of a North Korean nuclear program would be proved as lies.(28)

Interestingly, face saving may also be used as a metaphor for confidence building, including the development of practical cooperation measures that are necessary to change the nature of U.S.-DPRK relations from wholly adversarial ones to one in which cooperation is possible. As one North Korean diplomat stated in a private conversation, “What we need is to find ways to save each other[‘s faces].” Only through the dramatic process of turning conflict into cooperation can the legacy of mistrust that characterizes U.S.-DPRK relations be fundamentally altered.(29)

Facilitating Tactics: Time Pressure, Emotion, Trial Balloons

Most of the negotiation tactics described thus far have been forms of pressure tactics or stalling tactics, but there are also instances in which North Korean negotiators seek to facilitate the progress of negotiations with American counterparts. The most common forms of facilitating tactics have involved the use of time pressure, “building heat” for a negotiation through a show of emotion at the negotiating table and testing “trial balloon” ideas for possible compromise at informal sessions.

Although North Korean negotiators often use deadlines and other forms of time pressure in attempts to extract concessions from counterparts, on other occasions time deadlines may reflect a genuinely urgent need for agreement. In particular, North Korean negotiators may need to show progress on anniversary dates of key events. The North Korean push in negotiations with KEDO for a supply contract seemed to be motivated by a need to demonstrate progress by the first anniversary of the Geneva Agreed Framework. And the focus on settling the type of reactor that would be delivered to North Korea by the six-month anniversary of the signing of the Agreed Framework may have had a dual motivation: to put pressure on American counterparts to compromise and to show progress by a target date that had been mentioned in the Geneva Agreed Framework itself.

A second way to move forward in case of deadlock in negotiations is by building heat to resolve issues. An emotional display by one side or the other as a result of frustration when an impasse is reached may also be an opportunity for forward movement because it reveals a negotiator’s core, bottom-line position on issues of significance. Emotional outbursts have occasionally helped negotiators move past stumbling blocks. For instance, reports that the United States had positioned an aircraft carrier off the North Korean coast during the third round of the Geneva negotiations caused Vice Foreign Minister Kang to “explode” at the plenary session. (He had actually let Ambassador Gallucci know in private conversation prior to the session that he would protest the positioning of the American aircraft carrier.) Kang’s visible anger and Gallucci’s vigorous response allowed them to deal with side issues without letting them become an obstacle to the substance of the negotiation.

Finally, North Korean negotiators are skilled at using informal conversations outside of negotiations to launch trial balloons, or possible compromises that might be introduced to facilitate formal negotiations. American counterparts have heard a variety of ideas expressed informally, which, if seen favorably, have subsequently made their way into official North Korean negotiating positions. Trial balloons that have not been met favorably have disappeared without ever making their way into formal positions. Given the extraordinary rigidity of North Korean public positions, the opportunity to launch informal trial balloons is a welcome means to test new ideas without necessarily seeming to be formally committed to them.

It is important to note that trial balloons or other business conducted in informal sessions doesn’t necessarily represent progress in a negotiation; any point on which apparent agreement has been reached may be retracted until it has been agreed to in a final, signed document. It is a mistake to assume that a point has been finally settled until all issues have been settled; North Korean negotiators may come back to any issue on which agreement might apparently have been reached in prior discussions. In the words of one American interlocutor, “If they don’t write it down, it’s never been said.”(30) Although a commonly used tactic of North Korean negotiators in North-South dialogue has been to accept generalized agreements in principle that can later be interpreted in different ways, American negotiators in the Military Armistice Commission and in the U.S.-North Korean negotiations say that the DPRK has a record of abiding by explicit agreements that are a part of the formal record.


A comparison of U.S. and South Korean approaches suggests that differences between the United States and South Korea in dealing with North Korea are to a certain extent a product of similarities between North and South Korea and differences between the United States and Pyongyang. They are also a product of the differing structural positions in which the United States and South Korea find themselves in dealing with North Korea.(31) With the cold war over, North Korea remains a threat to U.S. interests in stability on the Korean peninsula but no longer has the ability to directly impinge on core American national interests. For South Korea, on the other hand, the cold war threat from the North remains as immediate and deep-seated as ever. These differing structural positions have shaped patterns of action and response that reinforce the use of differing approaches by the United States and South Korea to conflict management at both strategic and tactical levels.

For decades following the Korean War, the United States remained aloof from North Korea, preferring to interact with Pyongyang through South Korea. But the end of the cold war and the advent of the nuclear issue led for the first time to direct contact between Washington and Pyongyang in the late 1980s. The Soviet Union was removed as the major strategic threat on which the United States had been focused, revealing a fundamental structural asymmetry in perceptions of North Korea in Washington and Seoul. Many of the tensions between South Korea and the United States during the nuclear negotiations and in other dealings with North Korea since the end of the cold war have revolved around this asymmetry of priorities and perceptions in dealing with the security threat posed by the North.

The decision to negotiate directly with North Korea, as the nuclear crisis escalated in spring 1993, turned out to mark a profound change in the structure of relations among the United States and South and North Korea. The United States developed for the first time a direct relationship with Pyongyang unmediated by Seoul. These direct contacts have revealed tactical differences between the United States and South Korean governments in their policy approaches to North Korea–differences that emanate in part from differing cultural views and approaches to negotiation and conflict management, and in part from structural differences between the two relationships. For instance, the long-standing zero-sum competition for legitimacy has shaped the dynamic of North-South negotiations; there is a tendency to mirror tactics and strategies across the negotiating table in a contest of one-upmanship that pits North and South Koreans against each other. To a certain extent, this mirroring, or matching, behavior might be considered characteristic of the interaction between two societies; with similar collective-oriented styles. The inter-Korean negotiating dynamic contrasts with an extraordinarily different dynamic that has evolved in U.S.-DPRK negotiations, characterized by a problem-solving mode designed to achieve win-win outcomes–a classic characteristic of an individual-oriented negotiation style as described by Raymond Cohen.(32) Such differences are exacerbated by the North Korean response to these respective approaches–pursuing a win-or-die game of one-upmanship with the South while seeking a relationship of equivalency and reciprocity with the United States.

These strategic and tactical differences in approaches to North Korea have created new challenges in the relationship between the United States and the ROK, two allies who share the same strategic objectives but may have radically different understandings of the situational context and appropriate strategies for achieving a preferred outcome, particularly as the asymmetry in American and South Korean security threat perceptions began to emerge with the end of the cold war. Those differences may be magnified by North Korea’s dual strategy and response to each party, as well as by differing, culturally influenced preconceptions, interpretations, and misunderstandings between the United States and South Korea.

Another asymmetry in the South Korean and U.S. approaches to North Korea derives from differing strategic and tactical choices preferred in negotiation with the North. Sometimes this strategic asymmetry reinforces the structural asymmetry in security perceptions between the United States and South Korea, and at other times it contradicts conventional perceptions, further complicating the task of U.S.-South Korean coordination in negotiations with North Korea. The asymmetry is illuminated by a fundamental dilemma in negotiation theory: the toughness dilemma or the negotiator’s dilemma, which is, should a party in a negotiation use toughness or softness as a strategy to induce the most favorable agreement possible? An elaboration of this dilemma appears in Harold Nicolson’s description of two different negotiation ethics, that of the shopkeeper and that of the warrior. The shopkeeper always seeks to strike a deal through negotiation. The negotiating ethic of the shopkeeper projects a process in which softness yields softness and reciprocal concessions lead to eventual agreement on a mutually satisfactory basis. The warrior, on the other hand, seeks to settle conflicts with a winner-take-all approach, in which the only possible deal is on his own terms. The dilemma posed by Nicolson is “What happens when the shopkeeper meets the warrior?” A shopkeeper who chooses to negotiate with a warrior has no choice but to adopt a warrior’s tactics, but the shopkeeper who chooses not to negotiate is also employing tactics of toughness that will likely lead to stalemate. A further wrinkle in the toughness dilemma for the shopkeeper is that even in a negotiation in which both sides are willing to make concessions, toughness may either enhance the terms of a deal or lead to deadlock if the counterpart responds with toughness instead of softness.(33)

Thus, the challenge of dealing with North Korea–a “warrior” or rogue state that is not constrained in its negotiating tactics and responses by international norms and yet is severely constrained by its isolated international position–is in determining negotiating tactics and strategy, particularly in the context of the consultative needs imposed by the U.S.-ROK alliance as well as structural asymmetry of perceptions and priorities in managing the threat from North Korea.(34) The dilemma is exacerbated by the approaches of two negotiating counterparts with opposing warrior and shopkeeper predilections that have been shaped by their own historical influences and cultural traditions. In this model, South Korea, with tactics shaped by cultural influences and a historical legacy that it shares with the North Korean warrior, might also be seen as a warrior. A South Korean warrior strategy, however, operates under the constraints imposed by international norms and an alliance structure with the United States.

On the other hand, the U.S. approach is that of a mighty but relatively disinterested shopkeeper, attempting to make deals and solve problems where possible, rarely admitting the possibility that there is no deal to be made, yet armed with unparalleled ability to enforce its own will if necessary. This hypothetical warrior-shopkeeper continuum of negotiation ethics is consistent with our exploration of cultural influences on negotiation and with the actual structure of the respective negotiating dynamics between Noah and South Korea and between the United States and North Korea. Noah and South Korea, with their collectivist negotiating styles, approach each other as two warriors, continually matching strategies in negotiation, which usually leads to stalemate (with occasional rare and path-breaking exceptions). The United States is a relatively disinterested shopkeeper (with an individualist-oriented negotiating style) that sporadically employs a mixed strategy of toughness and softness in dealing with a North Korea that has traditionally used warrior tactics to get its way, but which recognizes that its survival needs require it to make a deal with the often distracted shopkeeper—even if it is difficult for Pyongyang to fully embrace the shopkeeper’s strategy itself. The U.S.-South Korea dynamic might also show characteristics of a warrior versus shopkeeper negotiation. However, in the context of an alliance, where fundamental areas of agreement are greater than areas of disagreement, warrior behavior or shopkeeper behavior should be seen primarily as an attempt to use tactics of toughness for self-preservation–in other words, to get the best deal possible in a bet that tactics of toughness are more effective in protecting one’s position than tactics of softness.


It remains to be seen whether North and South Korea may finally be able to abandon their zero-sum policies toward each other, or whether the United States may be able to play a constructive facilitating role. With the inauguration of Kim Dae Jung as president of the ROK and the adoption of his “sunshine policy,” South Korea emphasized an improved relationship with Pyongyang, declaring that economic exchanges are considered separate from political issues in Noah-South relations. Does such a change in policy transform the future dynamic of North-South negotiations, or will an effort to reverse the zero-sum dynamic of Noah-South competition be resisted or undermined in either Pyongyang or Seoul?

The initiation by Kim Dae Jung of the sunshine policy, a more accommodative policy of reconciliation with the DPRK, at first glance might be expected to have major effects on the North-South negotiating dynamic. With the adoption of this policy, one of the two parties on the Korean peninsula has finally declared its intention to abandon tactics of confrontation in favor of a strategy in which gain for one side will not automatically be interpreted as loss for the other. However, the application of such a policy change in practical terms faces two key obstacles: (a) the traditional, habitually ingrained pattern of viewing the other side as the enemy, and (b) frustration that is likely to build if the other side responds in its usual manner, unwilling to acknowledge or respond to reconciliation measures.

Both of these patterns are illustrated in the first inter-Korean dialogue held under President Kim Dae Jung’s administration, in Beijing in April 1998. The resumption of inter-Korean dialogue in Beijing provided North Korea with a perfect opportunity to test whether and how the forward-leaning rhetoric of the Kim Dae Jung administration might be translated into reality. Despite the changes in South Korea’s declaratory policy, however, practical constraints included South Korea’s divided domestic politics and perhaps most importantly the legacy of past tactics in inter-Korean dialogue. The Kim Dae Jung administration, already perceived as progressive, could not be perceived as giving the North something for nothing, a deadly mistake that Kim Young Sam had already made in his initial rice negotiations with North Korea in June 1995.

South Korean authorities focused on exchanges of divided families as an issue on which progress would pay rich domestic political dividends and also further !inter-Korean relations. As a principle for moving forward on both divided family issues and fertilizer assistance, reciprocity has been an essential domestic political requirement for public support of North-South dialogue in South Korea; North Korea needed to respond in kind to South Korean generosity. However, the two sides were unable to “resolve in parallel” fertilizer and separated family issues.

The negotiating table was once again the venue for ritual competition between North and South Korea, and Seoul had no choice politically but to follow the same tactics of toughness that had led to breakdowns in prior negotiations. Despite the development of parallel agenda items on which quid pro quos might be struck, the legacy of past inter-Korean negotiations made it difficult to forge a new pattern of agreement. Predictably, the session ended in breakdown, but served to shape the terms of subsequent official dialogue between North and South Korean authorities. Until North Korea can identify a way of fully changing its relationship with the United States, South Korea, and other members of the international community from one of confrontation to one of compromise, North Korean negotiators will continue to be constrained by their own structural and organizational inefficiencies and will not easily escape its self-reinforcing tradition of negotiating on the edge.


(1.) Robert J. Janosik, “Rethinking the Culture-Negotiation Link,” in Negotiation Theory and Practice, ed. J. William Breslin and Jeffrey Z. Rubin (Cambridge, MA: Program on Negotiation, Harvard Law School, 1991).

(2.) I. William Zartman, “A Skeptic’s View,” in Culture and Negotiation, ed. Guy Olivier Faure and Jeffrey Z. Rubin (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993), 20.

(3.) Zartman, “A Skeptic’s View,” 21.

(4.) Guy Olivier Faure and Jeffrey Z. Rubin, “Lessons for Theory and Research,” in Culture and Negotiation, 223.

(5.) For instance, the shopkeeper-warrior paradigm could be criticized for being equally (or perhaps even more) deterministic and static than cross-culturally based analyses, but Zartman employs this approach in an analysis of factors in understanding the U.S.-North Korean negotiating process. See I. William Zartman and Narushige Michishita, “Two Koreas’ Negotiating Strategies Revisited: Focusing on the Nuclear Issue,” in Middle Powers in the Age of Globalization: Implications for Korean Political Economy and Univeication, ed. Byong Moo Hwang and Young-Kwan Yoon (Seoul: Korean Association of International Studies, 1996), 395-429.

(6.) Christopher Rob McCusker, “Individualism-Collectivism and Relationships in Distributive Negotiation: An Experimental Analysis” (Ph.D. diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994), 34-35.

(7.) Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Institute of Peace, 1991).

(8.) Raymond Cohen, “An Advocate’s View,” in Culture and Negotiation, 22.

(9.) Faure and Rubin, “Lessons for Theory and Research,” 216.

(10.) See Alistair Iain Johnston, Cultural Realism: Strategic Culture and Grand Strategy in Chinese History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995).

(11.) See Ken Booth and Russell Trood, ed., Strategic Cultures in the Asia-Pacific Region (London: Macmillan, 1999).

(12.) C. Turner Joy, How Communists Negotiate (Santa Monica, CA: Fidelis, 1970), 61. “Because of our American tendency to feel that a deadlocked issue should be solve by mutual concessions, the Communists are on favorable ground in applying their delaying tactics. By proposing that 2 plus 2 equal 6, and by then delaying an agreement interminably, the Communists hope to lead us to agree that 2 plus 2 equal 5.”

(13.) A recent study of North Korean negotiating behavior that reviews much of North Korea’s strategy and tactics during the cold war is Chuck Downs, Over the Line: North Korea’s Negotiating Strategy (Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute, 1999). Other American analysts who have provided analysis and review of North Korean negotiating tactics include William J. Taylor, Samuel Kim, Larry Niksch, and I. William Zartman and Narushige Michishita.

(14.) The three principles are that reunification should be achieved through “independent Korean efforts without being subject to external imposition or interference; through peaceful means, not through use of force against each other; and through pursuit of great national unity, transcending differences in ideas, ideologies, and systems.” South-North Joint Communique, 4 July 1972.

(15.) Song Jong-Hwan, “How the North Korean Communists Negotiate: A Case Study of the South North Korean Dialogue of the Early 1970s,” Korea and World Affairs 8, no. 3 (fall 1984): 610-64.

(16.) Ibid., 659.

(17.) The most comprehensive of these studies is by Kim Do-tae and Ch’a Jae-hoon, “Pukhan-ui Hyopsang Chon-sul Tuksong Yongu: Nam-buk Taehwa Salyetul Chungsimulo,” Minjok Tongil Yonguso (December 1995).

(18.) Kim Do-tae, “North Korea’s Consistent Negotiating Style,” Vantage Point (April 1995): 31-40. Many of these arguments are also presented in an article by Kim entitled “Change and Continuity in North Korea’s Negotiating Behavior in the Post-Cold War Era,” Social Science and Policy Research 17, no. 2 (1995): 277-300.

(19.) Kim Do-Tae, “North Korea’s Consistent Negotiating Style,” 32.

(20.) William Mark Habeeb, Power and Tactics in International Negotiation: How Weak Nations Bargain With Strong Nations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).

(21.) Yong Ho Kim, “A Comparison of Communist Countries’ Negotiation Styles: North Korea, People’s Republic of China, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” Social Science and Policy Research 17, no. 2 (1995): 321-43. Kim also reiterates many of the issues on North Korea’s list of tactics that appear in studies by Song Jong Hwan and Kim Do Tae, cited above.

(22.) In Young Chun, “North Korea’s Negotiating Behavior Toward the United States,” Social Science and Policy Research 17, no. 2 (1995): 301-20. Also included in the Seoul National University study is a comprehensive assessment of North Korea’s negotiating strategy by Yang Sang Chul, which examines near-, mid-, and long-term objectives and possible counterstrategies for South Korea based on scenarios for likely developments in North Korea. Yang Sang Chul, “North Korean Negotiating Strategy and South Korea’s Policy Responses,” in Social Science and Policy Research 17, no. 2 (1995): 345-70.

(23.) Dong Bok Lee, “Negotiating with North Korea: Strategy and Tactics” (paper presented at the American Enterprise Institute’s “Negotiating with the North after Kim II Sung” conference, Washington, D.C., August 1994), 17.

(24.) Kim Do-Tae, “North Korea’s Consistent Negotiating Style,” 35.

(25.) State Department official, interview with author, June 1995.

(26.) In addition, there were written assurances between President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young Sam regarding the significance of these announcements for South Korea’s involvement in the light-water reactor project envisioned under the Geneva Agreed Framework

(27.) See Don Oberdorfer, The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1997), 2’78.

(28.) The North Korean side had shown unyielding resistance to the concept of “special inspections” that might categorically remove all doubt that North Korea lied about its nuclear intentions.

(29.) North Korean diplomat, interview with author, June 1998.

(30.) State Department official, interview with author, August 1996.

(31.) See Victor Cha, “Realism, Liberalism, and the Durability of the U.S.-South Korea Alliance,” Asian Survey 37 (July 1997): 609-22.

(32.) Raymond Cohen, Negotiating Across Cultures.

(33.) This analysis was stimulated by the discussion found in Zartman and Michishita, “Two Korea’s Negotiating Strategies Revisited: Focusing on the Nuclear Issue,” 395-429. See also Harold Nicolson’s classic Diplomacy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).

(34.) Zartman and Michishita see North Korea as a warrior and South Korea as a shopkeeper. However, I contend that their application of these roles is erroneous and fails to shed light on the negotiator’s dilemma. A model in which North and South Korea negotiate as two warriors, while the United States, the strongest party, imposes a shopkeeper’s solution on each side, may more accurately reflect the dynamic of the negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program. Certainly, the analogy is incomplete, since the United States, by imposing a solution, exhibits warrior characteristics; indeed, there was strong pressure in 1994 for the United States to take a warrior approach to North Korea. Ultimately, however, the mutual decision to negotiate shows that both sides were willing to take a shopkeeper’s approach. This model also is consistent with the idea that negotiating styles are culturally influenced.

Scott Snyder is the Asia Foundation’s representative in Seoul, Korea. This paper was originally presented at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.

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