Pursued single-mindedly since the 1960s
North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un, have been called crazy, bizarre, schizophrenic, irrational and many other unflattering terms. While there is surely some truth to those harsh words, the “Hermit Kingdom” can also be described as rational, calculating and pragmatic about certain aspects of its behavior and national development. The most prominent example is Pyongyang’s single-minded pursuit of its nuclear program.
Kim Jong-un, the current leader of the 72-year Kim-family dynasty, is maintaining a decades-long pattern of provocation and brinksmanship, related to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. What motivates Kim's behavior is not always clear, but the state of development of the North Korean nuclear program and associated missile systems have become more evident in recent years. Though it may appear that Kim's regime has greatly accelerated these developments, since he became North Korea’s supreme leader in 2011, the reality is that North Korea has steadily and incrementally advanced a program it has been working on since the early 1960s.
On March 23, PebbleCreek’s very own Dave Hungerford will describe the decades-long development of North Korea’s nuclear program. He will also review how recent negotiations with the U.S. have increased optimism in some quarters that Pyongyang may be willing to scrap its nuclear program in exchange for a large assistance package and U.S. security guarantees. While that could occur under the right conditions, it is very unlikely, because a nuclear threat is the only viable card Kim Jong-un has available to play in negotiations. He will not settle for less than an end to the U.S.-South Korea alliance and withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South.
Hungerford spent more than 35 years in intelligence and security-assistance programs. He worked nearly 40 years in the Asia-Pacific region, including 15 years in Korea at United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea. The majority of his intelligence career was focused on aspects of North Korean politics, economics, nuclear issues and international crime. His career in the Department of Defense included 24 years on active duty in the Air Force and 21 years as a Department of Defense federal employee.
Hungerford has lived in PebbleCreek since 2017, where he is involved in several Lifelong Learning programs, including as a moderator of Great Decisions foreign policy discussions and as director of LLL's Special Programs.
“North Korea is a land of illusions. A social-control system that seeks to keep 23 million people isolated from the outside world . . . and a foreign policy based on the premise that, by threatening other nations, North Korea can become a respected member of the international community.” -- Kongdan Oh and Ralph Hassig, North Korea Through the Looking Glass (Washington. D.C.: Brookings Institute Press, 2000)
Tickets to all Monday Morning Lectures are $5 at the door of the Renaissance Theater.
For more information: