Year in Review: Korean Peninsula at a crossroads again
Updated 17:36, 03-Jan-2019
Wang Peng
Editor's note: 2018 was more dramatic than many other years in recent memory, and as we move into the new year, it's time to look at the major ups and downs of the past 12 months and consider how they will impact the future. Among them is the DPRK nuclear issue which has witnessed impressive progress in 2018. Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies under Renmin University of China and Charhar Institute, offers a pragmatic solution to untangle the complex on the Korean Peninsula. 
The Korean Peninsula issue took center stage globally during the first half of 2018. At the very beginning, the DPRK broke its long-term silence and seriously sought transformation at home and reconciliation abroad. 
However, now the nuclear issue remains unresolved. All involved parties including the Republic of Korea, China, the DPRK, Japan, Russia and the United States have the responsibility to work together.
The core problem
Some believe the key to solving the nuclear issues lies in economic cooperation. However, that misses the point.
In fact, the core problem lies in the field of strategy, or politics and security.
The ties between Washington and Pyongyang are determined by their interactions and perceptions, which also lay a foundation for solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula. As key players, the two also promote development in Northeast Asia.
In other words, the level of economic cooperation is directly tied to the political and strategic exchanges between the U.S and the DPRK.
The pragmatic solution
With that in mind, we may find pragmatic approaches to solving the problems.
First, we need to be aware of the role of great powers. Some believe the DPRK's rise is shifting the power balance in Northeast Asia. That is inaccurate. The DPRK's rising nuclear power provided it an avenue to pursue its own strategic goals. However, the ultimate players will always be the great powers, both regionally and globally.
As Hedley Bull discovered in his masterpiece "The Anarchical Society", the only chance for secondary powers, such as the DPRK, to break the law of "great power management" is to increase competition and suspicion between the global leaders. 
This disunity of great powers may benefit countries like the DPRK, but would negatively affect regional security governance.
In this regard, since the Korean Peninsula is once again at a crossroad, China and the U.S., as well as Russia, should shoulder their responsibilities as "leading powers" in the region. 
The term “leading” here not only refers to their unparalleled material strength and military influence in Northeast Asia, but also refers to their moral obligation and institutional role in regional peacekeeping and global governance, to pursue a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
Scriptwriter: Wang Peng 
Animation: Zhang Tao 
Video photographer: Wu Hao, Gan Siqi
Edited and designed by Liu Shuo, Du Shihan, Zhao Yuanzhen, Li Linxi
Cover photo: Liu Shaozhen
Producer: Bi Jianlu
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at