The US and DPRK both maintain a firm stance. The US wants DPRK to dismantle its nukes before anything else will be addressed. The DPRK wants to protect the political survival of the regime and without nukes they don’t trust any guarantees of that priority. The DPRK wants to develop its economy but is often prevented by sanctions. DPRK cannot show signs of weakness in the face of the US hard line ‘divide and conquer’ stance. Afterall, they have experienced a history of colonization unlike that of any other nation. DPRK is a rational actor, but most diplomats and analysts in the US would disagree with that. They would also be poor statesmen to ignore historical facts; and the proof is in the lack of relations. The only form of true communication comes through signals. Some signals can be picked up in covariant policies with their allies, and other signals can be picked up in their tone and verbiage utilized in speeches and press releases. The best signals are seen in pictures and videos that are rarely released and hard to acquire. It takes an expert eye to extract these hidden signals. It takes someone with telepathy.
So-called American ‘experts’ look at the attack on Yangpyong Island and the Chon-anh Sub as unprovoked acts of aggression aimed at achieving some goal of acquiring resources. When in reality they missed the connection between Kim Jung Il’s stroke and the next succession and how legitimacy has to be acquired in dynastic change. Small and weak nations are always forced to resort to terrorism to sustain their existence. What’s worse is that there was a historical pattern to compare the succession to; as KJU’s was the 2nd to take place within the regime. When Kim Jung Il took power, there was an axe murder on the DMZ and a raid on the Blue House. Analysts missed those connections. Analysts fail to see a picture as being worth a thousand words with a long story to tell. By looking at the picture of the pall bearers who were escorting the casket of Kim Jung Il to the mausoleum; a real analyst would be able to conclude that succession had already taken place by identifying those who were there and where they were standing in formation. These skills are extremely important because failure to recognize these signals results have time and time again resulted in counterproductive policy.
There are very few people in the world who possess such skills, and the American government is a very large bureaucracy which is constructed of an iron triangle of Washingtonian elites who’ve been revolving in the door since they first stepped foot inside the district. So even though they are just doing their job, the least they could do is do it more counter intuitively if they are lacking in vital DPRK mind-reading skills. That is, at least, if the ultimate goal of statesmen is to achieve the objective of world peace (which is what it should be). So the first and most crucial step that needs to occur with US-DPRK relations is for the US to recognize the DPRK as a rational actor in light of its worldview and historical development. Through this recognition of the DPRK as a rational actor, normalization will be an easy process compared to the history of relations as they have historically been between the US and DPRK since 1953.
With complete lack of understanding of DPRK, and lack of communication, statesmen must apply general basic theories. It is well known that when kids or animals have been abused and traumatized they often behave in ways that people see as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, ‘crazy’, or ‘backwards’. But there is always an explanation for a traumatized kid fighting at school, or an abused animal lashing out at those who approach them, - even to bring food. Sometimes these sheltered dogs stay in their cage and starve to death out of sheer distrust and constant haunting of the cyclical abuse they’ve endured. That type of behavior can only be cured by understanding and compassion. There is no benefit in sanctioning a traumatized person or animal for reacting like a product of its environment. Sanctions will only reaffirm their continued bad behavior. This is a psychological fact. The same applies on a micro and macro level; whether with individual animals or entire states. Relations can only take place if the actor is respected as rational and understood as such. At that time, normalization will result in new behaviors and interactions. US-DPRK relations have never and will never progress out of the broken path they’ve been on since 1953 until the US learns how to understand these simple approaches to negotiating. DPRK doesn’t need constant reminders of how easily the world could invade and colonize them. They’ve experienced nothing but that - for thousands of years- which is why they still remain known as ‘The Hermit Kingdom’.