House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation Holds Teleconference on North Korea | Congressman Ami Bera

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation Holds Teleconference on North Korea

May 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation held a teleconference to discuss the risks and implications of a leadership crisis in North Korea. Experts on the call included Dr. Victor Cha, CSIS Korea Chair, and Professor, Georgetown University; Dr. Sue Mi Terry, CSIS Korea Chair; Dr. Jung H. Pak, Brookings Institute; and Mr. Bruce Klingner, Heritage Foundation.

“While it appears that the global community was spared a succession crisis in North Korea, it's frightening to think of the instability that would arise in North Korea and throughout the region without a clear plan,” said Chairman Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA). “The latest rumors around Kim Jong-un’s death prove that in order to responsibly address such upheaval, we must strengthen our alliances with South Korea and Japan, while maintaining dialogue with other regional actors to have a plan prepared before such crisis occurs.”

“The recent misinformation of Kim Jong-un’s death, while false, raises important questions of what should be done in the event North Korean leadership does change,” said Ranking Member Ted S. Yoho (R-FL), DVM. “North Korea’s dictatorship is a top-heavy power structure that harbors many unknowns for the line of succession. Whether it is Kim, his sister, or some unknown, we must be prepared for who comes next.  I want to thank our panel of experts for their time and insight into the inner workings of the North Korean regime and the potential crisis of leadership in the DPRK.”

“The committee's work today shows that the global focus on COVID-19 should not come at the expense of other continuing challenges in the Indo-Pacific and in the Korean peninsula,” said Dr. Victor Cha, CSIS Korea Chair, and Professor, Georgetown University.

“Unlike in the United States, where the vice president takes over if the president dies, it is not clear who will take over in North Korea,” said Dr. Sue Mi Terry, CSIS Korea Chair. “We need to start planning now for what will happen if all of these risk factors finally catch up with North Korea's leader--and that includes coordinating closely not only with allies such as South Korea and Japan but also with China, despite our increasingly antagonistic relationship.”

“The past three weeks of Kim Jong Un’s absence has underscored how much of global security depends on stability in North Korea. The discussion today is an important step forward in crafting a strategic approach to the regime in Pyongyang,” said Dr. Jung H. Pak, Brookings Institute.

“Kim Jong-un’s absence provided a dry-run of how we would respond to a North Korean leadership succession. The results weren’t impressive. But it could provide the catalyst for improving U.S. policy and better prepare for a future potential crisis,” said Mr. Bruce Klingner, Heritage Foundation.