Nieuws - 15 april 2013

Tension in North Korea

Who? Maarten Jongsma
What? Was interviewed for a Dutch TV current affairs programme, EenVandaag
Why? Works with North Korean potato breeders and is one of the few Dutch people to have visited North Korea several times

Did you get the chance to tell your story?
'They filmed for two hours in Wageningen, but on the programme there was only one minute to show for it. They mainly wanted me to talk about the North Koreans I know who don't want war. But the North Korean leader seems bent on establishing that the problem with the Americans that goes back to the Korean war in the early nineteen fifties is still there.'
What do you mean?
'You need to understand the conflict in its historic context, which makes a lot of things clear. The US does not maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea and still has a military presence in South Korea. North Korea's military response led to the boycott. Imagine if the US got out of South Korea in exchange for peace. It seems to me that all parties would stand to gain from that. Now a military exercise by the US creates anxiety and aggression on the North Korean side.'
Are you going again soon?
'I was supposed to be going in May to arrange for four North Korean researchers to come to Wageningen. The North Korean authorities agreed to it but that was before the conflict started. I might postpone the visit.'