Five University Conference
How to Deal with the North Korean Nuclear Conundrum

2017.12.08 09:30 - 11:30

The 9th Five University Conference was held on December 8-9, 2017 in partnership with Korea University Graduate School of International Studies (KUGSIS). Twenty-four international relations experts from Princeton University, Peking University, University of Tokyo, National University of Singapore, and Korea University were invited to give presentations and engage in discussions. Titled “Reshaping the Regional Order in the Asia-Pacific”, the conference provided an opportunity to hear eminent scholars’ valuable insights on some of the most pressing issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

On December 8, a public session on “How to Deal with the North Korean Nuclear Conundrum?” took place. Attended by an audience of over 200, the public session began with welcoming remarks delivered by Dean Kim Sung-han of Korea University Graduate School of International Studies and President Park In-kook of Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies. Moderated by President Park In-kook, the session consisted of presentations made by Prof. John Ikenberry of Princeton University, Prof. Jia Qingguo of Peking University, Prof. Kiichi Fujiwara of the University of Tokyo, Prof. Kishore Mahbubani of National University of Singapore, and Prof. Kim Sung-han of Korea University.

Prof. John Ikenberry pointed out that we seem to be coming to a turning point in terms of the North Korean nuclear conundrum. He argued that we need a longer term strategy of establishing greater understanding in the region through ‘strategic persistence.’ To be specific, he mentioned the need for countries like China to pursue sanctions more vigorously while also maintaining dialogue with North Korea. He said that we should push for a G-5 approach taking some risks on the side of diplomacy and lay the foundation for a wider settlement in the region.

Prof. Jia Qingguo underlined the need for an enhanced coordination on contingency plans to control North Korean nuclear weapons among China, South Korea and the United States through heightened dialogue. He also emphasized the need to get prepared for a military conflict as well as a change in the incentive structure in dealing with North Korea by adopting an enhanced carrot and stick approach.

Prof. Kiichi Fujiwara put emphasis on the role of China. He underscored the need to bring China into the orbit in terms of not only economic sanctions but also geopolitical framework. In addition, he stated that we should propose a scheme which North Korea can accept in order to end the continuous tension on the Korean peninsula.

Prof. Kishore Mahbubani suggested three fundamental points about the nuclear challenge. He asserted that there is no military solution as the cost of war would be too high. He argued that the multilateral sanctions such as United Nations Security Councils’ sanctions could be effective against North Korea if we can persuade China to carry out the strike against North Korea. He concluded by stating that we should not give up on diplomatic solutions.

Lastly, Prof. Kim Sung-han opened his remarks by examining North Korea’s game plan and the nuclear umbrella under attack. He said our mission is to transform the ‘tactical dialogue’ into a ‘strategic dialogue’ so that North Korea would not be able to move to the next stage of its game plan. He also highlighted that our policy should be aimed at ‘regime transformation’, if not regime change, which means changing the behavior of the North Korean regime.

After the public session, the Five University Conference 2017 culminated with closed sessions on various topics including major power relations, global challenges and regionalism. Since 2009, the Five University Conference has been playing a vital role in promoting academic exchange in the sphere of diplomatic security and political and economic agenda. Korea University (Graduate School of International Studies) and Princeton University (Woodrow Wilson Center) have played a leading role in organizing the Five Univer

John IKENBERRY, JIA Qingguo, FUJIWARA Kiichi, Kishore MAHBUBANI , KIM Sung-han


  • John IKENBERRY, Princeton University


    Video 1

  • JIA Qingguo, School of International Studies, Peking University


    Video 1

  • FUJIWARA Kiichi, University of Tokyo


    Video 1

  • Kishore MAHBUBANI , National University of Singapore


    Video 1

  • KIM Sung-han, GSIS, Korea University


    Video 1